Six of the top 10 most “post-Christian” cities in America, as calculated by The Barna Group, are located in what was once the bright “City on a Hill” of New England Puritanism.
Two of the top 10 cities are in New York, while the remaining two are on the West Coast, according to Barna.
In order to qualify as “post-Christian,” respondents had to meet at least nine of the following 16 characteristics. To be “highly post-Christian” required meeting 13 or more:
- 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
Barna describes its research as based “upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 21,378 adults conducted over a ten-year period, ending in April 2018. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is plus or minus 0.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the top 10 least post-Christian cities in the Barna compilation are in the American South and Midwest, including (in reverse order):
91. Corpus Christi, Texas
92. Kansas City, Ks-Mo.
93. Mobile, Ala.-Pensacola, Fla.-Walton Beach, Fla.
94 . Richmond-Petersburg, Va.
95. Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa.
96. Salt Lake City, Utah
97. Wichita-Hutchinson-Dodge City-Salina-Manhattan, Ks
98. Baton Rouge, La.
99. Knoxville, Tn.
100. Charleston-Huntington, W.Va.
Congressional staffers will, of course, note that all of the top 10 most post-Christian cities are located in deep blue states, while half of the least post-Christian cities are in deeply red states. Interestingly, there are several light red-to-purple states containing cities among the least post-Christian.
One wonders what John Winthrop, who described the Massachusetts Bay Colony of the Puritans as like a city on the hill, would say about Barna’s ratings today. Winthrop’s analogy came directly from Jesus’ words at Matthew 5:15-16.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (English Standard Version)