The Bible-minded Capital district

Jesus.poorThere have been a couple polls recently that suggest that the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY area is more godless or less godly, than most parts of the country, if you read the headlines:

These Are The Most Godless Cities In America. The subtitle reads: “A new survey ranks U.S. cities in terms of ‘bible-mindedness'” By ‘bible-mindedness’, the study means “a combination of how often respondents read the Bible and how accurate they think the Bible is.” As bible-minded, we’re #99, or second from the bottom.

The TIME poll seems too simplistic. I’ve read the Bible over time, though not as often recently as some think I ought to. But the concept of the Bible’s “accuracy” is a rather muddled notion to me. If it’s that it’s “true”, that there are fundamental truths to be found therein, I tend to believe that. If the question is whether it is literally, six days from ignition to humans, historically accurate, then I’d suggest that it was never meant to be regarded that way.

I submit that that the press seems to see religion as an either/or. EITHER one believes that every single word of the Bible was handed down by God as history and theology (a tricky thing, that) OR one is an atheist, who would hate God if he or she believed god existed. And press coverage of the so-called evangelical movement, especially by ABC News, seemed to solidify this simplistic duality.

I submit that there’s a great middle who find inspiration in some parts of the Bible, who believe that other sections were meant for a different, earlier audience, and that that’s OK.

Seen another way, in a different poll by Barna, the Capital District is #1 in Post-Christian Metrics.

The Barna scale was more interesting:

1. do not believe in God
2. identify as atheist or agnostic
3. disagree that faith is important in their lives
4. have not prayed to God (in the last year)
5. have never made a commitment to Jesus
6. disagree the Bible is accurate
7. have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
8. have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
9. agree that Jesus committed sins
10. do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
11. have not read the Bible (in the last week)
12. have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
13. have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
14. have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
15. do not participate in a house church (in the last year)

#6 is as problematic for me as it was in the TIME poll. #10 I feel that the way I live my life is sharing my faith, so wouldn’t know how to answer that one. I don’t attend Sunday school because it clashes with church choir.

Bottom line: I reject the notion that if one does not take the Bible literally, one is godless, whatever THAT means. But, at some fundamental level, I appreciate the glee our high (or low) ranking has generated; I DO get it.

4 thoughts on “The Bible-minded Capital district”

  1. I consider Iself to be “spiritual,” which I think is a natural phenomenon, but am generally anti-religious, because I don’t think spiritual matters live in particular “boxes.” I value the HUMANE teaching of Chairman Jesus as found in the four Gospels, but consider the supernatural exhortations bunk. Christianism would do better to ignore the hoary and barbaric Old Testament except for the occasional bits of poetry (“To everything there is a Season…”). IMO, of course.
    The “Tao Teh Ching” of Lao-Tsu inspires me as to how to live in the impersonal universe; the Teachings of Jesus guide me as to how to live well among other humans.


  2. Why are we so fascinated with polls and surveys when they can be skewed however the pollsters want them to be? Anyone who has actually read the bible knows it’s a mixture of allegory, poetry, metaphor, Hellenistic biography and history. To state that every singe word is literal and think it’s a linear book misses the mark on so many levels. Is it all God-breathed? I believe it is…both the Old and New Testaments working together to give a complete picture of the Big God Story.


  3. *twitches*

    I am reminded of the time I got into an argument with a non-majors bio student, who insisted that because I accept that biological evolution happened, I MUST be an atheist (I’m not) and therefore I was amoral (I don’t think I am) and am doomed to Hell (Not my call on that one, but if the way I’m interpreting things is correct, probably not).

    I agree #6 is problematic; there’s a lot of stuff in the Bible that reflects a non-scientific worldview (which is what existed at the time) that does not mesh with what we have evidence for now. (I refuse to believe, as some literalists have proposed, that God made the world “look old” as a test of faith. That seems far to trickster-ish to me, and far too cruel.)

    I don’t know. The whole thing makes me so tired. I tend to see my faith as more informing me on how **I** am to live **my** life, rather than using it as a brickbat to go after other people with, or to condemn individuals who are somehow different from me.


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