Prov., New Bedford, least Bible-minded cities

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — New England is known for its embracing of Christianity — especially Catholicism — but according to one new national survey of a hundred cities, the Providence-New Bedford metro area might just as well take away the name “Sin City” from Las Vegas.

Providence and New Bedford have been named the least Bible-minded cities in the country.

The American Bible Society asked two questions of 46,000 people in the hundred largest metro areas around the United States: have you read the Bible in the last week? And do you think the Bible is accurate?

“I know many people in this area who read the Bible regularly and value it,” said the Rev. Canon Jonathan Huyck, the rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Providence. Providence’s ranking in the survey shocked him.

“Certainly, there are others who read it hardly at all, or never, so like many cities, it’s diverse.”

The most Bible-minded city in the survey was Chattanooga, Tenn., followed by Birmingham, Ala. Boston was two behind Providence at number 98. And Las Vegas was number 90.

Going down the list, the first city to extend outside the Bible Belt was a portion of the metro area of Paducah, Ky., which extends into Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Harrisburg and Mount Vernon, Ill. Then, Bakersfield, Calif.

Grace Episcopal’s Rector Huyck says there’s plenty of room for improvement in our area.

“It’s incumbent upon churches in the town where people seem to be reading the bible less — to encourage it that much more, for sure.”

Bishop Nicholas Knisely, of the Episcopal Diocese of Providence, told the area will rise in the ranks of Bible-minded cities in the years to come. And, he said on Facebook: “Being ‘biblically-minded’ isn’t a matter of memorizing verses or dipping into scripture at random. It’s living a life that shows forth the Gospel values.

“Love, kindness, hospitality, prophetic witness, and working for the relief of the poor are the signs of a real biblically minded person,” said Bishop Knisely.

The American Bible Society, a non-profit organization, publishes and distributes Bibles, and bills itself as “a Christian ministry that has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for nearly 200 years.”

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