As the stereotype goes, Southerners are the most active churchgoers and adherents to Christianity while Americans living on the West Coast or Northeast are the least so. New survey data released by the Barna Group confirms this to some degree, while also pointing out a wide swath of Americans self-identify as Christians with widely varying level of commitment.
The data comes from an in-depth seven-year survey of about 40,000 Americans as part of the organization’s Markets 2011 and States 2011 reports.
For example, the highest percentage of self-identified Christians is in Shreveport, La. (98%) and church attendance is highest in Birmingham, Ala, at 96 percent. Conversely, 19 percent of residents in Portland, Maine, and Seattle consider themselves atheists or agnostic, while San Francisco has the largest number of unchurched adults (44 percent).
Perhaps the most interesting statistic, though, is that three out of (75 percent) of adults said they had Christian beliefs on some level.
Barna Group president David Kinnaman, who directed the research, said, “…one of the underlying stories is the remarkably resilient and mainstream nature of Christianity in America. Nearly three out of four people call themselves Christians, even among the least ‘Christianized’ cities.
‘Furthermore, a majority of U.S. residents, regardless of location, engage in a church at some level in a typical six-month period. The real differences spiritually between various regions are not so much what they call themselves; the faith gaps are more likely to be issues of belief, practice, politics and spiritual emphasis – how people think about, prioritize and express their faith.”