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A study by the American Bible Society has found that individuals that are “Scripture-engaged” are more capable of forgiving others than those who are “Scripture disengaged.” The study listed an individual as “Scripture engaged” when they believe the Bible impacts their daily lives, believe it helps guide their relationships with God and others, and say they regularly read/listen to the Bible. According to the study, 94% of Scripture Engaged individuals “somewhat” or “strongly agree” with the statement, “I am able to sincerely forgive whatever someone else has done to me, regardless of whether they ever ask for forgiveness or not.” Only 11% of “Scripture Disengaged” individuals strongly agreed with that statement, with 48% somewhat agreeing. The poll also found that 92% of Bible users agreed that “the message of the Bible has transformed my life” and even 38% of non-users agreed.

Forgiveness can be very hard for Americans, especially when the offender doesn’t ask for forgiveness. However, faith appears to make that simpler, with a 2001 Gallup poll of people of faith, including Christians, Muslims, and Jews, finding that 57% strongly agreed with the statement, “Because of my faith, I have forgiven people who have hurt me deeply.” The American Bible Society study also found that older people, women, and Protestants tended to be more forgiving than other groups. The topic of forgiveness and Americans comes from more than just this study. The LA Times surveyed several faith leaders’ opinions about Americans’ capacity for forgiveness in 2018 after Roseanne Barr was outed from her show after saying what some believed to be a racial slur. “Forgiveness is unnatural,” wrote Pastor Jon Barta of Burbank. “That is, it is unnatural to fallen people living in a fallen world — us, if the truth be admitted. Our knee-jerk reaction, and often the counsel of those around us, is to punish the offender, take retaliation against the person who hurt us, remove and prevent the perpetrator from further operation. This is common to humanity across the world, America included. I’m not convinced we’re a forgiving nation, or even persuaded that we are, but I believe at the least we’re a forgetting nation, soon distracted from older controversies to obsess about the latest.”

Forgiveness, however, is mandated in the Bible, such as in Matthew 6:15, which says, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Rick Warren wrote about the difficulties of forgiveness in his online devotional, writing, “It’s not easy. In fact, I have no doubt that for some reading this, your marriage is about to self-destruct — not because of the hurt but because of the unforgiveness. It’s not the hurt but the refusal to forgive that destroys a marriage. You may say, ‘I don’t feel like forgiving.’ Who does? Nobody ever feels like forgiving. You do it because it’s the right thing to do, and you do it to get on with your life. These steps are not easy, but with God’s power, you can do it.”

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