By Christina Sturgis
The American Bible Society believes the holy book is “losing ground” in the United States, but not Kentucky, where three cities are listed in the top 20 of the American Bible Society’s list of 100 most Bible-minded cities. Lexington ranks 14th, Louisville ranks 17th and Paducah ranks 19th.
The list, part of a report titled the “State of the Bible 2013,” was conducted by Barna Group, a marketing research firm that specializes in faith and culture and serves religious and non-profit clients. The information was collected from 1,005 telephone interviews with adults in the continental United States and 1,078 online surveys using a national representative panel.
The report states the Bible “is losing ground” in American society. For example, the percentage of respondents who said it “contains everything a person needs to live a meaningful life” has steadily declined. Seventy-five percent agreed in 2011; followed by 69 percent in 2012 and 66 percent in 2013.
Another finding in the report is that “the middle ground is disappearing,” meaning that two groups of respondents are increasing in percentage: those who said they read the Bible at least four times weekly and those who said they rarely or never read the Bible.
The five most Bible-minded cities are Chattanooga, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Roanoke, Va.; Springfield, Mo.; Shreveport, La. The least Bible-minded cities are Cedar Rapids, Iowa; San Francisco; Boston; Albany, N.Y.; and Providence, R.I.
The American Bible Society’s findings mirror those by the Pew Research Religion Project. Pew found Kentucky to be 49 percent Evangelical Protestant, 17 percent Mainline Protestant, 5 percent Historically Black Protestant and 14 percent Catholic and 12 percent unaffiliated with a religion, with the remaining 3 percent divided among many traditions.
San Francisco, however, one of ABS’ five least Bible-minded cities, has a starkly different religious and ethnic mix than Kentucky, according to the Los Angeles Based Center for Religion and Civic Culture. For example, 55.7 percent of adherents are Roman Catholic, 15.2 percent are Jewish and 7 percent are Muslim. Only 1 percent of adherents follow the tradition that emphasizes the Bible the most, the Southern Baptist Convention.