In an era of shifting populations and values, the notion of America's Bible Belt can be a slippery concept. But a new study gives us an idea of which cities can be considered to be part of that tradition — and which cities aren't.
Chattanooga, Tenn., was named America's most Bible-minded city, followed by Birmingham, Ala., and Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.
And despite its name, Providence, R.I., was named the least Bible-minded city. It tied New Bedford, Mass., in that slot, followed by Albany, N.Y., and Boston.
Las Vegas, the town often called Sin City, ranked 90th. Another city known for debauchery, New Orleans, came in at No. 35.
That's according to the American Bible Society, which ranked the cities after conducting interviews by phone and online over a period of seven years.
The group says it asked a random sample of more than 46,000 people nationwide if they had read the Bible in the past seven days. If they had, and if they "agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible," they were deemed "Bible Minded," according to the study's authors.
You can see the complete list at the American Bible Society website. We'll note that the society is based in New York City — 89th on the list.
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.
- Springfield, Mo.
- Shreveport, La.
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C.
- Little Rock, Ark.
- Jackson, Miss.
- Knoxville, Tenn.
- Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass.
- Albany, N.Y.
- San Francisco
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- Hartford/New Haven, Conn.
- Burlington, Vt.
- Portland, Maine
Several trends emerged from the study, the American Bible Society says. For instance, it "found that an inverse relationship exists between population size and Bible friendliness."
In the 25 most Bible-minded areas, the group says, only three cities had populations of more than 1 million households: Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Dallas. (The study uses cities' metropolitan markets as the basis for its comparisons.)
And in terms of geography, while cities in the South and Midwest claimed many of the most Bible-minded spots, several in the Northeast and New England were in the opposite category, along with two outliers: the San Francisco Bay Area and Phoenix.