Tennessee Loses Top Spot Among America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities; Birmingham, Alabama, New No. 1

American Bible Society Announces Which Cities Rank—and Which Cities Tank—in Bible Mindedness

After three years of having the most Bible-minded city in America, Tennessee has relinquished the title to Alabama. Birmingham, Alabama, moved up from the second spot in 2014 to the top spot in 2015 in American Bible Society’s annual ranking of America’s Most Bible-Minded Cities.

As in past years, the Bible Belt performed strongly in the 2015 rankings, while East Coast cities once again brought up the rear of the list. Small cities also generally performed better than did large cities. Just one of the top 10 Bible-minded cities ranks in the top 25 media markets. American Bible Society’s Bible-Minded Cities survey, conducted by Barna Research, uses Nielsen media market rankings as a proxy for city size.

The 2013 list topper, Knoxville, Tennessee, dropped out of the top 10 for the first time. America’s largest city, New York, entered the bottom ten in 2015 for the first time, ranking 91st on the 2015 list. One surprise this year was Dallas’ dropping out of the top 25 most Bible-minded cities, coming in at No. 26.

The rankings are calculated using data collected by Barna Group. Each city’s Bible mindedness is determined by analyzing survey respondents’ Bible reading habits and beliefs about the Bible. The most Bible-minded respondents said they had read the Bible in the past seven days and 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, Alabama (2) 
2.     Chattanooga, Tennessee (1)
3.     Tri-Cities, Tennessee (n/a)
4.     Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginina (3)
5.     Shreveport, Louisiana (5) 
6.     Springfield, Missouri (4)
7.     Jackson, Mississippi(9)
8.     Charlotte, North Carolina (6)
9.     Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina/Asheville, North Carolina (7)
10.   Little Rock, Arkansas (8)
Least Bible-Minded Cities (previous year's ranking)
91.    New York (89)
92.    Phoenix (93)
93.    Buffalo, New York (95)
94.    Hartford/New Haven, Connecticut (94)
95.    Las Vegas (90)
96.    Cedar Rapids, Iowa (96)
97.    San Francisco (97)
98.    Boston, Massachusetts (98)
99.    Albany, New York (99)
100.  Providence, Rhode Island/New Bedford, Massachusetts (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.”   

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." To view the full list of city rankings, follow this link.

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.