Chattanooga ranked first on the list for the second year in a row, followed by Birmingham/Anniston/Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in second and Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia, in third.
Bible-mindedness is calculated from combined levels of regular Bible reading and belief in the Bible’s accuracy, according to a press release from the American Bible Society.
The study analyzes the Bible-mindedness of the top 100 Nielsen media markets in the U.S. Data was gathered from phone and online interviews with a random sample of individuals throughout the country, the press release states.
Other regions that made the top 10 include Shreveport, Louisiana, fifth; Charlotte, North Carolina, sixth; Springfield, Missouri, seventh; Little Rock/Pine Bluff, Arkansas, eighth; Knoxville, Tennessee, ninth; and Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson, South Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina, 10th.
Springfield is the only city outside the Southeast to make the top 10.
Joe Green, lead pastor at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, said he has always strived to keep the Bible at the forefront of his teachings.
“In my preaching, you’ll find that I’m very much into the scripture, and that’s where I pull my messages,” Green said. “So it’s very much a part of who I am as a pastor, as a speaker and as a preacher.”
Green added that he regularly provides outlines of his sermons to his congregation, which encourages them to follow along and become more familiar with their Bibles.
“I’ve just found that it makes a huge difference in people’s lifestyle,” Green said. “I encourage them to take the outlines home and use them as an outline for their Bible study. I get a lot of response from that.”
Marvin Cameron, pastor at First Baptist Church in Kingsport, said he believes the Tri-Cities’ high ranking speaks to this region’s heritage.
“I think that’s just a part of who we are,” Cameron said. “It’s part of who we’ve been growing up, and it’s something that stays with us for a lifetime.”
To encourage Bible-mindedness at First Baptist, Cameron said he prepares a daily devotional that is sent to the congregation by email. The devotional includes a daily scripture reading and a few paragraphs of reflection.
“You get up in the morning at 6 o’clock, and you’ve got an email from the church,” Cameron said. “It’s just a simple little chapter or several verses from the Bible and then some thoughts about it, just to encourage people to stay Biblically aware.”
For many years, Tennessee has had the largest number of high-ranking cities on the list, the release states. Nationally, only 25 percent of the population is considered Bible-minded.