The American Bible Society has released its second annual list ranking 100 American cities by their embrace of the Bible. An overwhelming number of the top cities are located in the South.
“What we do is we take down all 100 cities in the U.S. and we take the top, take the bottom and everything in between,” Geof Morin, Chief Communications Officer for the American Bible Society, said. “It’s a combination of not just readership … but engagement, which is a language term for does the Bible get its fair shake in folks’ lives?”
“In the southeast, you have a strong penetration of the Bible in churches, as you would imagine, but in these cities — the ones that made the top 5 in particular — if you look at them, it’s not just church attendance that stacks up here. It’s personal engagement with the scriptures, it’s small groups of people who gather together and, in some cases, some community-wide efforts to invite people to engage, to read and live out the Bible,” Morin told Fox News Chief Religion Correspondent Lauren Green.
The top five cities on the survey are Chattanooga, TN, Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston, AL, Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA, Springfield, MO, and Shreveport, LA. Among the top 25 cities, only three – Charlotte, Nashville, and Dallas – have populations of one million or more households. Conversely, many of the cities on the bottom of the list are located in the Northeast.
“There’s churches and lots of folks involved in religious activity, but the penetration of the Bible, the means by which people can personally engage it and find ways to live it out are encouraged to do so, has dropped, which puts these folks at the bottom of the list,” Morin said.
The American Bible Society doesn’t just aim to rank the cities and point fingers. They also want to raise the bar of Bible reading and scripture memorization and application nationwide.
“We want to raise up a sense of the scores, but we want to raise up more importantly the champions, the people that are doing some great things based on their hopes found in God’s word,” Morin said.