We live in an age when the Bible is read and understood very differently in cities across the country. So how exactly do Americans from each region interact with the Bible? In the annual Bible-Minded Cities report, in partnership with American Bible Society, Barna explores how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. The study, based on interviews with 76,505 adults over a 10-year period, shows how people in the nation’s 100-largest media markets view and use the Bible. Where does your city rank?
The Top Bible-Minded Cities in 2017
For the second year in a row, Chattanooga, TN (50%) is the most Bible-minded city in America. In fact, since 2013, Chattanooga has won every year with the exception of 2015, when it was runner up to Birmingham / Anniston / Tuscaloosa, AL. This year, those very same cities in Alabama take the second spot (49%), very close behind Chattanooga. Roanoke / Lynchburg, VA (48%) take the third spot, then it’s back to Tennessee again, with the Tri-Cities area (48%) coming in at fourth place. The South continues to represent well with Shreveport, LA (47%) taking fifth place. In fact, the next five are also located in the Southern “Bible belt.” Charlotte, NC: (46%), Springfield, MO (46%), Little Rock / Pine Bluff, AR (44%), Knoxville, TN (44%), Greenville / Spartanburg / Anderson, SC / Asheville, NC (44%) wrap up the top 10 most Bible-minded cities in 2017.
The Least Bible-Minded Cities in 2017
At the other end of the spectrum, Albany / Schenectady / Troy, NY (10%) is the least Bible-minded city in America—also for the second year in a row. The New England area takes second and third positions, with Boston, MA / Manchester, NH (11%) as the runner-up, and Providence, RI / New Bedford, MA (12%), a previous least Bible-minded city in America (2013, 2014, 2015), close behind. Cedar Rapids / Waterloo, IA (14%) is the only Midwest city in the top five, slightly ahead of another NY state contender, Buffalo (14%). The East coast and the West make up the remainder of the top 10 spots, including Las Vegas, NV (14%), San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose, CA (15%), Hartford / New Haven, CT (16%), Salt Lake City, UT (17%), then back to NY again with the biggest city in America, New York, NY (17%) sliding into tenth place.
What Is a Bible-Minded City?
Each year, Barna and American Bible Society rank the nation’s top media markets based on their level of Bible engagement. Individuals considered to be Bible-minded are those who report reading the Bible in the past week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches. 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 various U.S. cities. Nationally, only 25 percent of the population is considered Bible-minded.
About the Research
This study was sponsored by American Bible Society. The data were analyzed by DMA. The label “DMA” stands for Designated Market Area and represents a unique geographic area that also serves as a commonly accepted media market as defined by The Nielsen Company. DMAs have been configured so that the entire U.S. is assigned to one—and only one—of 210 DMAs in the country and are based on the television viewing habits of the residents in each county. While there are 210 DMAs, this table contains data for the top 100 markets. The data reported in this table are based upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 76,505 adults conducted over a 10-year period, ending in April 2016. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±0.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Respondents who report reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as “Bible-minded.”
Barna Group is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.