One in three Brits still accept Bible as their desert island text

A third of Brits would want to be given a Bible if they were about to be stranded on a desert island, despite claims we live in a secular country, according to new research.

But although the Bible is the best-selling book of all time, most said they would rather not be given the Christian holy book.

Around 31%of adults said they would like to be given a copy of the Bible if they were about to be stranded on a desert island, a question which is asked to guests on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, according to research commissioned by the Church & Media Network.

The poll of 2,042 people, carried out by ComRes, found that 56% would not want to be given a Bible while a further 13% did not know whether they would want to be given a Bible or not.

On the show, presented by Kirsty Young, well-known figures and celebrities are asked which eight pieces of music or songs they would take with them to a desert island. In addition to this, they are given two items: the Bible, and the complete works of Shakespeare, and they are also allowed to pick one ‘luxury’ item of their choice.

The Bible consistently comes out as the most widely read book of all time, with estimates at between four and five billion. The next most popular book by a significant margin is thought to be Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung at around 820 million copies, followed by The Harry Potter series at 400 million copies.[1]

The Church & Media Network commissioned the survey ahead of its 40th conference, which is taking place at the Royal Society of the Arts on Thursday, 20 October.

“Despite the claims we live in a secular country, it’s encouraging to see that a third of Brits still value the Bible as an important work,” said Steve Cox, chair of the Church & Media Network.

“Whether you are a Christian or not, the Bible is an amazing book that gives accounts of life, love and hope. It is wonderfully rich in texture, containing histories, letters, poetry and much more describing the human condition, family, and the wrestling with all that life has thrown at humankind throughout the centuries: triumph, despair, courage, grief, redemption and hope. As Christians we also happen to believe that it is not just a piece of literature, but God’s Word. I cannot think of a better book to take with me if I were to be stranded on a desert island.”

The poll also showed the Bible was significantly more popular among the over-65s than young people, with 39% wanting to be given a Bible compared to just 18% of 18 to 24-year-olds. This was, however, significantly higher (28%) among those aged 25-34.

More affluent respondents and those living in London or the north-west were more likely to want to be given a Bible, while those living in the north-east were less likely.

Steve Cox added: “We realise that over the past 40 years, the landscape of faith and belief in this country has changed. We know it is no longer expected for people to profess a Christian faith, but our hope is that people would at the very least value the Bible for what it is and consider reading it for themselves rather than mistakenly believing it no longer has any relevance.

“As a network interested in both faith and the media, we would encourage mainstream media outlets and broadcasters to see the importance of communicating the richness of the Bible as a key work in our nation’s past, present and future. We would love to see more people acknowledge the wonderful truths the Bible contains.”

The 40th Church & Media Conference takes place at the Royal Society of the Arts on Thursday, 20 October. For more information,

Notes to editors

For press enquiries, contact Chine McDonald, Tel: 07734 055 057

For the full results from ComRes, visit their website. 

About the research

ComRes interviewed 2,042 British adults online between 7th and 9th October 2016. Data were weighted by gender, age, region and socio-economic grade to be representative of the population as a whole. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available on the ComRes website (

The Church & Media Network runs the MediaNet which is a network that supports, encourages and inspires Christians who work in, and with, the UK media. Through local get togethers and a flourishing online network, we’re seeking to help Christians better understand how their faith and work interact, and to encourage and inspire each other to be disciples whilst meeting the demands of our industry.

[1] Guinness World Records