The Barna Group has released the latest 2015 version of its annual study on the most Bible-minded cities in the country, and this year, the top spot is given to Birmingham, Alabama.
"This study provides us with a great starting point to understand where people are interacting with Scripture and what their views are of the Bible," explained Andrew Hood, managing director of communications at American Bible Society, a partner in the study. "We want to help people continue to grow their engagement with the Bible. Ultimately, we want people to know that, whether they live in one of the most or least Bible-minded cities, the Bible can speak to their needs and challenges and help them make sense of life."
In the annual report, Barna Group takes a look at how Bible engagement works in the 100 largest metropolitan areas of the United States. The study is done through phone and online interviews with 62,896 adults with those who say they read the Bible weekly and wholeheartedly believe its message as the best example of being Bible-minded.
"This definition captures action and attitude-those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures," the study says. "The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in various cities of the nation."
It's no surprise that the country's "Bible Belt" across the Deep South would be where the biggest concentration of Bible-minded folks live as Chattanooga, TN, the northeastern "Tri-Cities" area of Tennessee (which includes Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol), as well as Roanoke, VA, and Shreveport, LA round out the top five metro areas.
Chattanooga took the top spot last year, but 2013's winner, Knoxville, TN, was bumped all the way down to number 11 this year. In fact, the southern state dominance of the list stretches all the way down to number 21 where Wichita, KS enters in at number 22.
But on the other end of the spectrum, the bottom of the list is comprised of large metropolitan areas (including the country's largest media market) across the east and west coast. New York City entered the bottom 10 for the first time at number 91 with only 17% of its residents being Bible-minded.
The bottom five on the list consists of Cedar Rapids, IA, San Francisco, CA, Boston, MA, Albany, NY, and Providence, RI with others in the bottom ten including Phoenix, AZ (#92), Buffalo, NY (#93), Hartford, CT (#94), and Las Vegas, NV (#95).
The Barna Group says that this survey is part of a larger 10-year study that measures and tracks the country's faith by city and state.
"Online rankings consider only one data point-Bible search behavior-while American Bible Society's Bible-Minded Cities survey examines both behavior and attitudes about the Bible to harvest a more authentic survey of each city's population," Andrew Hood continued. "This provides a more three dimensional view of a city's Bible mindedness."
If you'd like to learn more about the demographics and breakdown of faith association per metropolitan area, you can purchase the complete study through the group's website.