From its place in schools, to the public square, to people’s individual lives, the current and future role of the Bible in U.S. society is an often-debated topic. A new release from Barna Group shows how this debate plays out regionally and takes a look at how 96 of the largest cities in the nation view the Bible.
The report ranks the most and least “Bible-minded” cities by looking at how people in those cities view the Bible. The study is based on 42,855 interviews conducted nationwide and the analysis of Bible trends was commissioned by American Bible Society. Individuals who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded. This definition captures action and attitude—those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country’s largest markets.
Regionally, the South still qualifies as the most Bible-minded. The top ranking cities, where at least half of the population qualifies as Bible-minded, are all Southern cities. This includes the media markets for Knoxville, TN (52% of the population are Bible-minded), Shreveport, LA (52%), Chattanooga, TN (52%), Birmingham, AL (50%), and Jackson, MS (50%). Other markets in the top 10 include Springfield, MO (49%), Charlotte, NC (48%), Lynchburg, VA (48%), Huntsville-Decatur, AL (48%), and Charleston, WV (47%).
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Least Bible-Minded Cities
The least Bible-oriented markets include a mix of regions, but tend to be from the New England area. Easily the lowest Bible-minded scores came from Providence, RI (9%) and Albany, NY (10%). To put this in perspective, the most Bible-minded markets are five times more likely to have residents who qualify as Bible-minded than is true in these two Northeastern cities.
Though these two cities are the most extreme, none of the cities in the bottom 10 break 20%, where even one in five people could be considered Bible-minded. The New England area is home to most of the markets in the bottom 10 Bible-minded cities, including Burlington, VT (16%), Portland, ME (16%), Hartford, CT (16%), Boston, MA (16%), Buffalo, NY (18%) and New York, NY (18%).
The remaining markets in the bottom 10 are primarily in the West and include San Francisco, CA (16%), Phoenix, AZ (17%), and Las Vegas, NV (18%). Cedar Rapids, IA (18%) being something of an outlier.
See where your city ranks. See all 96 cities here.