The U.S. cities with the most “post-Christian” residents are primarily located on the U.S. coasts, according to Barna Group research published June 5.
Barna defines “post-Christian” as persons meeting nine of the following 16 criteria:
- Do not believe in God
- Identify as atheist or agnostic
- Disagree that faith is important in their lives
- Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
- Have never made a commitment to Jesus
- Disagree the Bible is accurate
- Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
- Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
- Agree that Jesus committed sins
- Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
- Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
- Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
- Have not attended Sunday School (in the last week)
- Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
- Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
- Not born again
Cities were ranked based on the percentage of residents who qualify as “post-Christian” based on responses to these categories, with two or more cities or metro areas being combined into one “city” listing.
The top eight “post-Christian” cities are located on the East Coast, with the top two being Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts (66% post-Christian residents) and Portland-Auburn, Maine (60%).
There was a tie for third between Providence-Rhode Island-New Bedford, Massachusetts; and Burlington, Vermont (both at 59%).
The ninth and 10th spots were cities or areas on the West Coast: Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, California; and Seattle-Tacoma, Washington (both at 54%).
Five cities were tied at 32% for least number of “post-Christian” residents: Salt Lake City, Utah; Wichita-Hitchinson-Dodge City-Salina-Manhattan, Kansas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia.
Middling cities / areas included Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas; Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin; and Johnstown-Altoona-St. College, Pennsylvania, all with 43% of “post-Christian” residents.
The disparity in responses between the top and bottom cities or areas was significant for many criteria.
For example, 60% of residents in Springfield-Holyoke “have never made a commitment to Jesus,” compared to 37% of Waco-Temple-Bryan and 22% of Charleston-Huntington.
However, the difference in belief in God was minimal, with 11% of Springfield-Holyoke residents saying they don’t believe in God, compared to 6% of Waco-Temple-Bryan and Charleston-Huntington residents.
The full report is available here.