In Birmingham, Alabama, people are reading their Bibles. In San Francisco, they’re skipping church. And in West Palm Beach, Florida, many have never regularly gone to church in their lives.
American cities are markedly diverse in their relationships with church and the Bible, new studies from the American Bible Society and Barna Research Group show. Not surprisingly, cities in the South report more churchgoing and Bible reading than those on either coast.
More than half the people in Birmingham are “Bible-minded,” reading the Bible within the past week and asserting its accuracy, the research shows. It’s followed by two Tennessee areas: Chattanooga and the Tri-Cities. Roanoke, Virginia, and Shreveport, Louisiana, round out the top five.
At the opposite extreme, just 9 percent of the people in Providence, Rhode Island, are Bible-minded, ranking it 100th. Two other New England areas are next: Albany, New York and Boston. San Francisco and, perhaps surprisingly, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, finish out the five least Bible-minded cities.
Church is least popular in San Francisco, where 61 percent are “unchurched”—they haven’t attended in the past six months. In contrast, only 13 percent are unchurched in Augusta, Georgia.
And in West Palm Beach, 1 in 6 has never attended church regularly. That’s nearly double the national average.
Nationally, 9 percent never attended regularly and 29 percent have stopped, for a total of 38 percent who are unchurched, the Barna research found.
Source: American Bible Society