Thursday, January 24, 2013

Top Most and Least Bible-Minded Cities in America

This article on ChristianityToday caught my attention today. It is a Top Ten listing of the most "Bible-Minded" cities as well as the least "Bible-Minded" cities. According to Barna statistics, 96 of the largest cities in America are considered in the survey. It generally confirms what is nowadays common knowledge. New England states are secular and least Bible minded. Bible belt states remain strongly Bible-minded. Many states comprise a mixture. According to David Kinnaman, President of Barna, the study reveals the growing diversity of beliefs from city to city. The interpretation of data is also very subjective. For example, the different levels of interpreting "Bible-mindedness" also affects the final results. The way to use the statistics is to look at "tipping points." Say if 20% of the population is the tipping point. It will lead to a positive "Bible-mindedness" to the rest of the city. If less, it will lead to a negative "Bible-mindedness." Bible-mindedness can also be described in terms of ease and casual use of biblical terms in everyday usage. The more "Bible-minded," the more readily acceptable in social conversations. This does not mean that all Bible conversations are attempts at proselytizing. It is basically just the level of acceptance of Bible lingo for that city.

Credit: American Bible Society (larger view)

It is interesting to note the term being used, "Bible-minded" rather than to say 'evangelical,' 'Christian,' 'Protestant,' etc. It is less restrictive in terms of profession of faith, and more reflective of how well-known the Bible is in each city. One does not need to be a Christian in order to know parts of the Bible, or Bible stories. Atheists do know parts of the Bible as well. As long as there is a "Bible-minded" situation, it means at least three advantages:

  1. There is a shared story
  2. There is an opportunity to build on what people already know
  3. There is no pressure to force anyone to believe or not believe. After all, whether one knows the Bible or not, is not proselytizing. It is simply Bible knowledge.
Statistics can be fun to look at. It is also intriguing. Safe to say, we need to remember that all statistics are a snapshot in time, influenced by both the population size, as well as the process in collecting the data. Then there is the interpretation. For me, statistics like these are nice to know, but do not diminish the need to share the gospel more widely. It simply gives an indication of what kinds of strategies we can adopt. 


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