And the Most (and Least) Bible-Loving Cities in America Are…
A newly-released study by the American Bible Society (ABS) has ranked 100 leading US metropolitan areas according to ‘Bible-mindedness.’
In order to “conduct effective ministry,” ABS annually lists what it has determined to be the most and least ‘Bible-minded’ US cities.
Chattanooga, Tennessee was named the city where residents most embrace the best-selling book of all time, unseating nearby Knoxville, last year’s most Bible-loving burg. Knoxville slipped to 10th place this year. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 were:
Birmingham, Alabama; Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia; Springfield, Missouri; Shreveport, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina/Asheville, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas and Jackson, Mississippi.
On the ‘sinful’ side of the list, Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts was named least ‘Bible-minded,’ followed by:
Albany, New York; Boston; San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Buffalo, New York; Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut; Phoenix; Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine.
With the exception of Springfield, Missouri, all of this year’s 10 most ‘Bible-minded’ cities are in the South. Six of the 10 least ‘Bible-minded’ metropolises are in the Northeast and New England.
The ABS study found an inverse correlation between population size and Bible-friendliness. Only three of the 25 most ‘Bible-minded’ cities are home to more than a million residents– Charlotte, Nashville and Dallas.
Robby Gallaty, senior pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, which boasts one of Tennessee’s biggest congregations, told Moral Low Ground editor Brett Wilkins that he has “mixed feelings” about his city being named the nation’s most ‘Bible-minded.’
“On one hand, a biblical worldview affects every decision a person makes, from choosing a spouse, to raising your children, or spending your finances,” said Gallaty. “On the other hand, ‘easy-believism’ is contagious in a community that knows the Bible well. For example, the Pharisees of the first century were well-versed in the Old Testament, however Jesus confronted them more than any other sect.”
Gallaty continued: “What excites me about the ranking is the potential for disciple-making, something I am passionate about, in a community saturated with the Scriptures.”
“Through coaching and accountability, disciples of Christ can be mobilized to live out the commands of Christ in communities where the Bible is minimized, or worse, perverted.”
On the other end of the spiritual spectrum, Zachary Bos, Massachusetts state director of the freethought group American Atheists, told Moral Low Ground that Boston placing 98th out of 100 US metro areas in ‘Bible-mindedness’ is “something to take pride in.”
“Boston is a young town, and a college-going town, in a state that is progressive and inclusive,” said Bos. “I think all of these factors tie in to our low score… I actually wish these results would be reported in the opposite manner. Actually, we are among the top communities in the country in terms of having the positive qualities of open-mindedness, skepticism and forms of community support that embrace secular ways of living.”
Dave Kong, co-founder of San Francisco Atheists, told Moral Low Ground he and members of his group are also proud that their city ranks 97th out of 100 in ‘Bible-mindedness,’ but that he was “dismayed” that it did not finish 100th.
“We must try harder,” said Kong.
Tagged american atheists, American Bible Society, atheism, Boston Atheists, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Chattanooga most Bible-minded city, Dave Kong, most Bible-minded cities, Providence least Bible-minded, Providence Rhode Island, Robby Gallaty, San Francisco Atheists, the bible, Zachary Bos