NASHVILLE – The South is home to the top 10 most “Bible-minded” cities in the United States, according to new Barna Group research.
Defining Bible-minded as a person who reads the Bible in a typical week and strongly asserts the accuracy of its teaching, researchers determined that Knoxville, Tenn., is the most Bible-minded city in the United States, with 52 percent of the city’s population fitting that category.
Other cities in the top five are Shreveport, La., with 52 percent of its population deemed Bible-minded; Chattanooga, Tenn., 52 percent; Birmingham, Ala., 50 percent; and Jackson, Miss., 50 percent.
At the bottom of the scale are Providence R.I./Bedford, Mass., 9 percent; Albany/Schenectady/Troy, N.Y., 10 percent; Burlington, Vt./Plattsburgh, N.Y., 16 percent; Portland/Auburn, Maine, 16 percent; Hartford/New Haven, Conn., 16 percent; and Boston, Mass./Manchester, N.H., 16 percent.
Where does North Carolina rank?
Charlotte comes in at No. 7 with Asheville tying with three S.C. cities for No. 11. Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem ranks No. 19 with Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville at No. 22. Greenville/New Bern/Washington rank No. 31.
Researchers advised Christian leaders to view the news optimistically.
“In this analysis, 83 out of 96 cities in the U.S. have at least 20 percent of their residents qualifying as Bible-minded,” Barna Group President David Kinnaman said. “Christian leaders should recognize that most of the major cities in the nation continue to have basis for biblical engagement among a significant share of the population.”
Study results indicate a diversity of Bible-minded scores among population markets across the United States, ranging from the high of 52 percent and the low of 9 percent, Barna reported.
“As ministry leaders in particular, it’s important to keep both vantage points in tension,” Kinnaman said. “Whether you live in a city ranked in the top half of Bible-minded cities or in the bottom half of Bible-minded cities, there are still tens of thousands of people to reach regarding both the message of the Scriptures and their importance.
“The key is to not merely preach to those insiders,” Kinnaman said, “but instead to equip and empower those who do believe with a strong and relevant message to take out into their communities, vocations and spheres of influence.”
Researchers drew results from telephone and online interviews with random samples of 42,855 adults nationwide. Interviews were conducted over seven years, ending last May, according to Barna. Full results are available at barna.org.
Barna markets itself as a private, nonpartisan organization that has been conducting and analyzing primary research since 1984 to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.