Hollywood has been betting big money that America still loves the Bible. From Noah to Exodus to the forthcoming Last Days in the Desert, a fictional look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert, Scripture has returned to the screen. But what is America’s relationship with the Bible?
In the annual “Bible-Minded” cities report, Barna Group explores how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. The study, based on interviews with 62,896 adults over a 10-year period, shows how people in the nation’s 100 largest media markets view and use the Bible.
What Is a Bible-Minded City?
Each year, in partnership with American Bible Society, Barna Group ranks the nation’s top media markets based on their level of Bible engagement. 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 various cities of the nation.
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The Top Bible-Minded Cities in 2015
As in past years, the South—the “Bible Belt” of America—still has the most Bible-minded cities in the country. All of the cities in the top 10—where at least 46% of the population qualifies as Bible-minded—are southern cities. However, after three years of having the most Bible-minded city in America, Tennessee has ceded the top spot to Alabama. The most Bible-minded city in 2015 is Birmingham, AL, with 51% of its population qualifying as Bible-minded.
Tennessee still holds the second and third spots with Chattanooga (50%) and the Tri-Cities (50%). Knoxville, TN—the most Bible-minded city in 2013—dropped out of the top 10 list altogether in 2015 and is now ranked eleventh with 42% of its population qualifying as Bible-minded. Other cities in the top ten include Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA (48%), Shreveport, LA (46%), Springfield, MO (46%), Jackson, MS (46%), Charlotte, NC (46%), the Greenville SC and Asheville, NC area (46%) and Little Rock, AR (46%).
The Least Bible-Minded Cities in 2015
The bottom 10 cities are primarily divided between the northeast and the west. New York City—the country’s largest media market—entered the bottom ten for the first time this year. The Big Apple is ranked 91st on the 2015 list, with only 17% of its residents being Bible-minded. The least Bible-minded city in 2015 is once again Providence, RI, where only 9% of residents are Bible-minded.
Other cities in the bottom ten include the Albany, NY area (10%), Boston, MA (14%), the San Francisco, CA area (15%), Cedar Rapids, IA (15%), Las Vegas, NV (15%), Hartford, CT (16%), Buffalo, NY (16%), Phoenix, AZ (17%) and Salt Lake City, UT (17%).
Where does your city rank?
About the Research
The data reported is based upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 62,896 adults conducted over a 10-year period, ending in August 2014. The top 100 cities were determined based on the 100 largest media markets in the continental United States as ranked by Nielsen. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±0.4 percentage points at the 95 percent 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.”\
This study is part of a larger initiative of Barna Group to measure and track the nation’s faith by city and by state. More information about the Barna: Cities effort is available here.
The Bible-minded rankings have been commissioned by American Bible Society, the go-to source for all things Bible.
To read more about the faith views, demographics and general market trends in U.S. cities and states, order a copy of your city or state report.
Find out more about the survey and methodology.