A Barna research team recently interviewed people from various areas of the nation to see which cities and/or areas were the most and least biblically minded. That is to say, they were seeing which areas held a high view of Scripture. The study evaluated each city’s “Bible-reading habits and beliefs” (Zylstra 2016, ChristianityToday.com). The study interviewed over 65,000 adults in the 100 most populous areas.
The research noted that Tennessee “is home to more megachurches per capita (67) than any other state” (Zylstra 2016, ChristianityToday.com). As previous studies have indicated, “the South remains the most Bible-minded region of the country, with all of the top 10 cities located below the Mason-Dixon line,” (Zylstra 2016, ChristianityToday.com) said Barna. According to the Barna research, the following represents the 10 most Bible-minded cities in the United States:
10. Lexington, Kentucky (44%)
9. Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson, South Carolina/Asheville, North Carolina(44%)
8. Knoxville, Tennessee (45%)
7. Little Rock/Pine Bluff, Arkansas (45%)
6. Charlotte, North Carolina (46%)
5. Tri-Cities, Tennessee (47%)
4. Shreveport, Louisiana (47%)
3. Roanoake/Lynchburg, Virginia (48%)
2. Birmingham, Alabama (51%)
1. Chattanooga, Tennessee (52%)
In contrast, the top 10 least Bible-minded cities are found in the Northeast and West. They are the following (note, this was a top 100 list):
- Salt Lake City, Utah (17%)
- Phoenix/Prescott, Arizona (16%)
- Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut (16%)
- San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, California (15%)
- Las Vegas, Nevada (14%)
- Buffalo, New York (13%)
- Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, Iowa (13%)
- Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts (12%)
- Boston, Massachusetts/Manchester, New Hampshire (11%)
- Albany/Schenectady/Troy, New York (10%)
It is interesting to note that Lynchburg (#3) is home to Liberty University, whereas Charlotte (#6) is home to Southern Evangelical Seminary, the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary extension in Charlotte, and a host of other Bible schools. Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute is found between Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC (#9). North Greenville University, a university with a large Christian component, is also found in the area. There are a couple of principles that stand out to me.
First, discipleship works! That is, those who have held a strong biblical mindset are using good discipleship methods in many areas of biblical training, while promoting the Christian worldview. If one considers the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God, then discipleship is mandatory. Not only should one desire to grow with God, but one should also desire to grow others.
Second, evangelism is necessary. Some may be tempted to stay away from areas with a populace possessing a lower Bible-mindset. But, how does that help? Perhaps, we need more emphasis on the Christians and the churches located in the more hostile areas of the nation. The following map, from Christianity Today (taken from Barna), provides the full top-100 list.
© January 26, 2016. Brian Chilton.
Zylstra, Sarah Eekhoff. “The Bible is Still Buckled: America’s 100 Most Bible-Minded Cities of 2016.” Christianity Today.com (January 21, 2016). Accessed January 26, 2016. http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/january/bible-belt-buckled-100-most-bible-minded-cities-2016-barna.html