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The Belt Is Still Buckled: America's 100 Most Bible-Minded Cities of 2016

Chattanooga reclaims crown, while five cities are less engaged with Scripture than Las Vegas.
The Belt Is Still Buckled: America's 100 Most Bible-Minded Cities of 2016 Image: Jeff Gunn / Flickr
Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Bible Belt is still firmly buckled.

Southern cities top the list of the most "Bible-minded cities" in the United States, calculated each year by the American Bible Society (ABS) and Barna Group.

The rankings, based on each city’s Bible-reading habits and beliefs, come from a decade of interviews with more than 65,000 adults in the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas.

As Chattanooga, Tennessee, regained its top spot from Birmingham, Alabama, many demographic trends held firm.

“As in previous years, the South remains the most Bible-minded region of the country, with all of the top 10 cities located below the Mason-Dixon line,” stated Barna.

More than half of Chattanooga’s population (52%) of about 173,000 is Bible-minded, which Barna defines by both action and attitude. In other words, individuals “who report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.”

Tennessee is home to more megachurches per capita (67) than any other state, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. The state has more than one megachurch for every 100,000 people.

Chatanooga's Bible-minded citizens, though, are likely going to smaller churches. The city has just three megachurches, tied with the much-smaller Cordova (population less than 35,000). Nashville and Memphis each have 11 megachurches, Knoxville has 9, and the Nashville suburb of Brentwood has 4.

Chattanooga traded places with the Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa market, which dropped down to No. 2 after placing first in 2015. More than half of Birmingham’s population (51%) is also Bible-minded. Before that, Chattanooga spent three years on top.

The No. 3 spot went to Lynchburg, Virginia—where Liberty University is located.

Here's the full 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%)

CT noted the top cities of 2015, 2014, and 2013, as well as contrasting lists like the cities that search the Bible the most.

The complete ranking of all 100 cities is below.

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Related Topics:Bible; Bible Literacy; Tennessee
Posted:January 21, 2016 at 11:01AM
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