Godless Hollywood? Lost Angeles? These and other stereotypes were put to the test in a recent study conducted by a Calif.-based Christian research and media organization.
And the results may surprise some.
Based on a national sample of interviews with more than 24,000 adults, the recent report by the Barna Group examined faith in the 86 largest metropolitan areas and 27 most populous states, and found that U.S. mobility is changing the locations of faith-based populations.
For example, while the World Christian Database attributes New York as being the city with the most Christians, the Barna Group’s Faith By Market report found Los Angeles to be the city with the most evangelicals.
According to Barna, Los Angeles – the city that produces the media often criticized or boycotted by evangelicals – is home to nearly one million of these deeply devout Christians and is home to more evangelical adults than the New York, Chicago, and Boston metropolitan areas combined.
Though the World Christian Database is the world’s leading authority on Christian populations throughout the world, Douglas A. Sweeney claims in his new book, The American Evangelical Story, that the Barna Group specializes in evangelicals.
Noting the surprising emergence of The City of Angels (Los Angeles) with so many born again Christians, Barna Group Founder George Barna stressed that LA’s high figure is due to the enormous population of the area.
"Keep in mind that the metropolitan LA market is huge. It contains more than 10 million adults. Even though its percentage of Christians is 13 percent below the national average, its population is so massive that it emerged as the largest accumulation of believers," Barna said.
"It is not exactly a Christian commune," he added, "but like many metropolitan areas, Los Angeles has a significant remnant of believers who can exert tremendous, positive influence on their culture if they so choose."
In terms of percentage however, much of Lost Angeles is still as it’s nickname implies: lost. Its percentage is significantly lower than the other markets that the Barna Group found to have the fewest percent of evangelicals – five of which were in the Northeast. These include Boston and Providence, tied at 21 percent, and New York, where researchers found 22 percent of the population to be born again.
Another interesting result Barna’s Faith By Market report found was that the ten cities where at least 60 percent of the population was born again were all in the South.
According to Barna, the new report will be available on Sept. 6, 2005. Commenting on the high cost of the report ($3,500 for the first copy, and $200 for each additional copy), Barna stated, "A typical national survey of 1000 adults would cost a minimum of $25,000. This study contains interviews with over 24,000 adults. That places the market value of the research at more than $600,000."
Because tens of millions are spent on marketing ministries, resources, and services to the faith community, the study was done with the hope of helping "Christian organizations become better stewards of their money," said Barna.