Birmingham, Ala. Tops the List as America’s Most Bible-Minded City

American Bible Society Announces Which Cities Rank—and Which Cities Tank—In Bible Friendliness

When it comes to U.S. cities that embrace the Bible, Birmingham, Alabama, tops the list. A newly released ranking from American Bible Society finds Birmingham residents have the highest combined levels of regular Bible reading and expressed belief in the Bible’s accuracy. Another Alabama city ranking high on the list of America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities was Huntsville, coming in at No. 12.

The news was not quite so positive for some American cities. Topping the list of America’s least Bible-minded cities is Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts for the third consecutive year.

American Bible Society’s Bible-Minded Cities survey, conducted by Barna Group, uses Nielsen media market rankings as a proxy for city size.

American Bible Society’s third annual study of America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities found that, while the Bible Belt and smaller cities continue to perform strongly in Bible friendliness, East Coast cities and large cities continue to bring up the rear. While ranked No. 1 in Bible mindedness, Birmingham is the 44th largest media market in America. Just one of the top 10 Bible-minded cities ranks among the top 25 cities by media market. Knoxville—which ranked No. 1 in the 2013 Bible-Minded Cities' list—dropped out of the top 10 in 2015, coming in at No. 11. This year, the largest city in America, New York, entered the list’s bottom 10 for the first time at No. 91.

To be considered Bible minded, respondents must state that they had read the Bible in the past seven days and that they believe strongly in the accuracy of the Bible. Nationally, only 27 percent of the population was considered Bible minded.

This year’s rankings from the America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities study show many differences from usage statistics for American Bible Society’s Bible search engine, Bibles.org. Louisville, Kentucky registered the largest number of searches on Bibles.org while Syracuse, New York, registered the fewest searches of any of the top 100 markets.

“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. This provides a more three dimensional view of a city’s Bible mindedness,” said Andrew Hood, managing director of communications at American Bible Society.


Most Bible-Minded Cities (previous year’s ranking)
1.     Birmingham, Ala. (2) 
2.     Chattanooga, Tenn. (1)
3.     Tri-Cities, Tenn. (n/a)
4.     Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va. (3)
5.     Shreveport, La. (5) 
6.     Springfield, Mo. (4)
7.     Jackson, Miss. (9)
8.     Charlotte, N.C. (6)
9.     Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./ Asheville, N.C. (7)
10.    Little Rock, Ark. (8)
Least Bible-Minded Cities (previous year’s ranking)
91.    New York (89)
92.    Phoenix (93)
93.    Buffalo, .Y. (95)
94.    Hartford/New Haven, Conn.  (94)
95.    Las Vegas (90)
96.    Cedar Rapids, Iowa (96)
97.    San Francisco (97)
98.    Boston, Mass. (98)
99.    Albany, N.Y. (99)
100.   Providence, Rhode Island/ New Bedford, Mass. (100)

“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,” said Hood. “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.” 

Conducted by Barna Group, the study analyzes the Bible mindedness of the top 100 cities by Nielsen media markets across the U.S. Bible mindedness is calculated based on combined levels of regular Bible reading and residents’ belief in the Bible’s accuracy. To view the full list of city rankings, follow this link.

Methodology:
The data reported is based upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 62,896 adults conducted over a 10-year period, ending in August 2014. The top 100 cities were determined based on the 100 largest media markets in the continental United States as ranked by Nielsen. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±0.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Respondents who report reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as "Bible-minded."

About American Bible Society:
Founded in 1816, American Bible Society works to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message. One of the nation's oldest nonprofit organizations, today's American Bible Society provides resources across a variety of platforms enabling first-time readers and seasoned theologians alike to engage with the best-selling book of all time. For more information, visit AmericanBible.org.

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