Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yes Virginia, There Really is a Bible Belt

In other news, the sun is really, really hot.

Al Mohler comments on new Barna research confirming the existence of the Bible Belt.
The poll data is straightforward. Over 350,000 persons were interviewed and asked this question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?"

The data reveal a wide disparity among the states. In Mississippi, 85% answered "yes," while in Vermont, only 42% did so. That is an incredible margin of difference.

According to the data, the most religious states include Mississippi (85%), Alabama (82%), South Carolina (80%), Tennessee (79%), Louisiana (78%), Arkansas (78%), Georgia (76%), North Carolina (76%), Oklahoma (75%), Kentucky (74%), and Texas (74%).

The states with the lowest responses were Connecticut (55%), Nevada (54%), Rhode Island (53%), Oregon (53%), Washington (52%), Alaska (51%), Massachusetts (48%), Maine (48%), New Hampshire (46%), and Vermont (42%).

That's not really the interesting part. The interesting part is when Mohler nevertheless confirms that the gospel is needed in all 50 states (as in all corners of the world, of course). I have lived in the Bible Belt most of my life, and while the "religion" is overwhelmingly "Christian," it is exactly what this survey is labeling it: religiosity.

Tim Keller, Christine Wicker, Michael Spencer, et.al. are predicting this religiosity will be collapsing any decade now. (And the widespread data is showing that while the number of megachurches is increasing, and the number of those attending megachurches is increasing, the number of professing Christians is decreasing. Figure that math out!)

In any event, this from Mohler is right and true:
[T]he radical difference between the 85% marked by Mississippi and the 42% of Vermont point to real and challenging distinctions in how we should conceive our Great Commission challenge in those states. In Mississippi, the challenge is to reach persons who think they are Christians with the reality of the genuine Gospel. In Vermont, reaching a secular population is the main challenge. Both represent important and vital Great Commission challenges.

When it comes to gospel wakefulness, Tennessee is just as much a spiritual wasteland as Vermont. Perhaps more so, given the "older brother" factor.

1 comment:

nhe said...

I think you're exactly right about the older brother factor. You and I (TN/GA) are in a larger wasteland than can be found in New England/Northeast or on the West Coast.

The predictions mentioned here are very interesting - is it wrong that there's a part of me that would welcome some New England based post-modern relativism to invade the south in the next decade?.....I'd exchange the nominalism we have here now for that in a heartbeat.