TIME Religion

Actually, THESE Are the Most Godless Cities in America

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New study says Salt Lake City, not Providence, is least into the Bible

Updated 1:00p p.m., Jan. 30

A study from the American Bible Society purported to rank the “Bible-mindedness” of 100 American cities last week, and based on how often respondents read the Bible and how accurate they believe the good book to be, it found Providence, R.I., and Bedford, Mass., to be the two least “Bible-minded” cities in America. But that didn’t sit well with the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island—and he’s not alone.

(EARLIER: These are the most Godless cities in America)

In response to the ABS study, the popular Bible-searching website BibleGateway.com has released a study of its own with some striking findings. Based only on how often people in a given city use its Bible-searching software (and controlling for population size), Bible Gateway finds Atlanta, Ga. to be the most Bible-reading city in America, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth at No. 2. Chattanooga, Tenn., which bested the competition as America’s most “Bible-minded” city in the ABS survey, need not fret; the city weighs in at a respectable 8th place in the Bible Gateway rankings.

But Bible Gateway’s different methodology—which, perhaps most significantly, does not take into account whether or not a reader considers the Bible to be literally true—yields some remarkable differences from the ABS study. Washington, D.C., for example, was ranked a lowly 80 by ABS, but leaps up to third place for its Bible-reading habits.

Bringing up the rear as the least Bible-reading city in the country is not Providence, but Salt Lake City, Utah, whose heavily Mormon population would probably dispute any suggestion they aren’t doing a lot of Bible reading. Salt Lake’s position is likely due to the absence of the Book of Mormon in Bible Gateway’s searchable databases, though as the church pointed out on its website, there is plenty of data to indicate that Mormons tend to be well-versed in the Bible. An LDS representative wrote TIME to note that that Bible Gateway’s rankings probably vastly under-count Salt Lake City residents, “because Mormons access the Bible primarily through LDS.org, the Church’s Gospel Library mobile app, or their physical copy of the scriptures.”

With Salt Lake City bringing up the rear in the Bible Gateway data, Providence and New Bedford are no longer ranked dead last, but the good Bishop shouldn’t rejoice just yet. According to Bible Gateway, the city’s denizens still rank third to last in Bible Gateway searches.

But hey, maybe they’ve just got the thing memorized.

Bible Gateway’s full rankings list:

City Bible Gateway Rank ABS/Barna Rank Difference in Rank
Atlanta, GA 1 29 +28
Dallas / Fort Worth, TX 2 22 +20
Washington, DC / Hagerstown, MD 3 80 +77
Charlotte, NC 4 6 +2
Nashville, TN 5 13 +8
Raleigh / Durham / Fayetteville, NC 6 27 +21
Waco / Temple / Bryan, TX 7 43 +36
Chattanooga, TN 8 1 -7
San Antonio, TX 9 34 +25
Houston, TX 10 41 +31
Norfolk / Portsmouth / Newport News, VA 11 31 +20
Austin, TX 12 48 +36
Honolulu, HI 13 78 +65
Huntsville / Decatur, AL 14 12 -2
Birmingham / Anniston / Tuscaloosa, AL 15 2 -13
Colorado Springs-Pueblo CO 16 56 +40
Columbia, SC 17 24 +7
Roanoke / Lynchburg, VA 18 3 -15
Tulsa, OK 19 32 +13
Orlando / Daytona Beach / Melbourne, FL 20 65 +45
Springfield, MO 21 4 -17
Kansas City, KS-MO 22 42 +20
San Diego, CA 23 72 +49
Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo / Battle Creek, MI 24 30 +6
Greenville / Spartanburg / Anderson, SC / Asheville, NC 25 8 -17
Los Angeles, CA 26 73 +47
Indianapolis, IN 27 28 +1
Columbus, OH 28 47 +19
Jackson, MS 29 9 -20
Jacksonville, FL 30 18 -12
South Bend / Elkhart, IN 31 39 +8
Greensboro / High Point / Winston-Salem, NC 32 20 -12
Memphis, TN 33 26 -7
Chicago, IL 34 74 +40
Wichita / Huthinson, KS 35 15 -20
Seattle / Tacoma, WA 36 71 +35
Lexington, KY 37 14 -23
Oklahoma City, OK 38 16 -22
Baltimore, MD 39 68 +29
Knoxville, TN 40 10 -30
West Palm Beach / Fort Pierce, FL 41 59 +18
Charleston, SC 42 38 -4
Little Rock / Pine Bluff, AR 43 8 -35
San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose, CA 44 97 +53
Dayton, OH 45 37 -8
Richmond / Petersburg, VA 46 36 -10
Miami / Ft. Lauderdale, FL 47 64 +17
Harrisburg / Lancaster / Lebanon / York, PA 48 69 +21
Mobile, AL / Pensacola / Ft. Walton, FL 49 23 -26
Omaha, NE 50 55 +5
Louisville, KY 51 17 -34
Greenville / New Bern / Washington, NC 52 33 -19
Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN 53 75 +22
Detroit, MI 54 49 -5
Portland, OR 55 61 +6
Madison, WI 56 79 +23
Baton Rouge, LA 57 25 -32
Shreveport, LA 58 5 -53
Phoenix / Prescott, AZ 59 93 +34
St. Louis, MO 60 58 -2
Denver, CO 61 81 +20
Des Moines / Ames, IA 62 53 -9
Tampa / St. Petersburg / Sarasota, FL 63 63 +0
Cincinnati, OH 64 45 -19
Philadelphia, PA 65 57 -8
Spokane, WA 66 54 -12
Bakersfield, CA 67 21 -46
Sacramento / Stockton / Modesto, CA 68 66 -2
Champaign / Springfield / Decatur, IL 69 60 -9
Cleveland / Akron / Canton, OH 70 50 -20
Toledo, OH 71 88 +17
Charleston / Huntington, WV 72 11 -61
New Orleans, LA 73 35 -38
New York, NY 74 89 +15
Milwaukee, WI 75 76 +1
Paducah, KY / Cape Girardeau, MO / Harrisburg, IL / Mt Vernon, IL 76 19 -57
Tucson / Sierra Vista, AZ 77 82 +5
Cedar Rapids / Waterloo, IA 78 96 +18
Fresno / Visalia, CA 79 70 -9
Flint / Saginaw / Bay City, MI 80 52 -28
Harlingen / Weslaco / Brownsville / McAllen, TX 81 46 -35
Boston, MA / Manchester, NH 82 98 +16
Rochester, NY 83 83 +0
Johnstown / Altoona, PA 84 40 -44
Albuquerque / Santa Fe, NM 85 51 -34
Pittsburgh, PA 86 67 -19
Ft. Myers / Naples, FL 87 77 -10
El Paso, TX / Las Cruces, NM 88 62 -26
Davenport, IA / Rock Island / Moline, IL 89 44 -45
Hartford / New Haven, CT 90 94 +4
Green Bay / Appleton, WI 91 85 -6
Syracuse, NY 92 86 -6
Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, PA 93 84 -9
Las Vegas, NV 94 90 -4
Portland / Auburn, ME 95 91 -4
Buffalo, NY 96 95 -1
Albany / Schenectady / Troy, NY 97 99 +2
Providence, RI / New Bedford, MA 98 100 +2
Burlington, VT / Plattsburgh, NY 99 92 -7
Salt Lake City, UT 100 87 -13

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