The American Bible Society has released its third annual list of the "Most and Least Bible-Minded Cities in the United States," based on each city's Bible reading habits and beliefs.
The study, conducted in partnership with the Barna Group, is based on interviews with 65,064 adults over a 10-year period and is intended to explore overall openness or resistance to the Bible in various U.S. cities.
"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," the report explains. "This definition captures action and attitude-those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures."
Unsurprisingly, the South --appropriately dubbed the "Bible Belt" of the United States -- remains the most Bible-minded region of the country, with all of the top 10 cities "located below the Mason-Dixon line," the study found.
Chattanooga, Tennessee ranked first this year, with more than half of the Scenic City's population (52%) of about 173,000 identifying as Bible-minded. Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the 2015 top city, ranked second, followed by Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia, and Shreveport, Louisiana.
Lexington, Kentucky, came up from No. 15 last year to claim the No. 10 spot, while Springfield, Missouri, dropped out of the top ten for the first time. Jackson, Mississippi, dropped from seventh to fifteenth.
"We've seen the same five cities dominate the top five spots consistently," said Andrew Hood, managing director of communications at American Bible Society. "We continually seek opportunities to support local churches across America by equipping leaders to help people encounter the life-changing message of the Bible. We commend local pastors who encourage congregants to read the Bible regularly."
In contrast, the least Bible-minded cities were predominantly in the Northeast. Albany, N.Y., Schenectady, N.Y., and Troy, N.Y., earned the lowest spots with 10 percent of residents who met the criteria.
Boston, Massachusetts (11%), moved from third to second place while Providence, Rhode Island (12%)-the least Bible-minded city in 2015-dropped two spots to third place.
Other cities in the bottom 10 include Las Vegas, Nevada (14%), the San Francisco, California, area (15%), Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut (16%), Phoenix/Prescott, Arizona (16%), and Salt Lake City, Utah (17%).
During a recent interview with The Gospel Herald, Nancy Ortberg, CEO of Transforming the Bay with Christ, said San Francisco's low ranking is due in part to the city's mindset of exploration and innovation, spurred in recent years by the rise of Silicon Valley.
"While I think that's really exciting, it can also be a really interesting soil for people to disregard God, and to believe that is in their own efforts that caused them to be where they are instead of having the mentality of having stepped deeper into the mind of God, who is creative and innovative and the author of all the things that we're discovering," she said, "With success, it is easy to initially crowd God out."
To counter this growing issue, Ortberg urged churches to reach out to the local community: "People aren't starting their faith journeys through a church, which they used to do in the 1940s or 1950s," she said. "Instead, they are looking around to see if there is anybody around their communities who are doing things that resonate with them."
Here is the complete list of the top 10 most Bible-minded cities:
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. Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia (48%)
2. Birmingham, Alabama (51%)
1. Chattanooga, Tennessee (52%)
And the 10 least Bible-minded cities:
91. Salt Lake City, Utah (17%)
92. Phoenix/Prescott, Arizona (16%)
93. Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut (16%)
94. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, California (15%)
95. Las Vegas, Nevada (14%)
96. Buffalo, New York (13%)
97. Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, Iowa (13%)
98. Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts (12%)
99. Boston, Massachusetts/Manchester, New Hampshire (11%)
100. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, New York (10%)