Fact Sheet: American Bible Society

Founded in 1816, American Bible Society makes the Bible available to people across the U.S. and around the globe—including those in the most difficult circumstances. American Bible Society also equips churches and mission organizations with Bibles, Bible study resources and educational materials to help teach others about the Bible's life-changing message.

American Bible Society Quick Facts

  • AmericanBible.org
  • Founded in 1816 and celebrated its bicentennial in 2016
  • Nonprofit focused on helping people engage with the Bible
  • Provides Bible and Bible resources in the U.S. and around the world through ministry partners
  • Published the Good News Translation
  • Published the Contemporary English Version
  • Has distributed more than 6 billion Bibles
  • 235 employees

American Bible Society works closely with partner organizations to reach people in the U.S. and around the world who might otherwise not have access to Bibles. Through these partnerships, Bibles are distributed to:

  • U.S. military (domestically and abroad)
  • U.S. veterans
  • Military families
  • Victims of natural disasters
  • Inmates
  • At-risk youth
  • Orphans

The message of the Bible is unchanging, but how American Bible Society delivers that message is constantly changing. Following its original mission to make the Bible available in a variety of formats, American Bible Society provides interactive, high- and low-tech resources, enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time.

A charter member of the United Bible Societies—an organization composed of more than 140 Bible societies on six continents—American Bible Society's influence extends beyond U.S. borders. American Bible Society demonstrates the practical love of the Bible through partnerships with organizations and ministries such as Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and Feed the Children to meet the needs of suffering people worldwide.

In the next 10 years, American Bible Society will lead the way to begin translation for 100 percent of languages around the world and equip 100 million people in the U.S. to actively engage with the Bible. The organization calls this its 100/100 vision. There are currently more than 1 billion people around the world lacking a complete Bible in their language, and research has shown that fewer Americans have been engaging with the Bible in recent years.

Bible Statistics

Each year, American Bible Society commissions research via Barna Group to assess how Americans view the Bible and ways their behaviors are changing over time. This data helps inform how American Bible Society pursues its 100/100 vision in the U.S.

The 2017 State of the Bible research revealed:

  • After several years of downward trends in the number of Americans reading the Bible, the numbers leveled off in 2017.
    • Nineteen percent of Americans are now considered skeptics, returning to levels last seen in 2014.
    • Further up the engagement spectrum are:
      • Bible neutral at 23 percent;
      • Bible friendly at 38 percent; and
      • Bible engaged at 20 percent.
  • Americans have a positive view of people who read the Bible daily. The top three attributes ascribed to daily Bible readers are: humble (39 percent), loving (38 percent) and accepting (34 percent).

History of Firsts

American Bible Society was the first to:

  • Distribute Bibles by placing them in hotels, serving the needs of weary travelers.
  • Provide pocket Bibles to combat soldiers (Civil War).
  • Present a Bible for the blind (1835).
  • Offer a gift annuities program (1843).
  • Provide Bibles to Pony Express Riders travelling across the U.S. (1860).
  • Develop Bible-based TV and radio programming in (1948).
  • Produce audio recordings of the Bible—by vinyl record in 1957—in 44 languages.
  • Translate the Bible into "today's English"—producing the Good News Translation (1966), which sold more than 7.7 million copies in its first year of release.
  • Launch a Bible-based top level domain in .Bible (2013).

History of Notable Leadership

American Bible Society has been influenced by esteemed American presidents, politicians and lawmakers, including:

  • John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president of the United States
  • Benjamin Harrison, 23rd president of the United States
  • Elias Boudinot, 10th president of the Continental Congress
  • John Jay, first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court