Roy Exum: What ‘Most Biblical’ Means

Monday, January 27, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When I learned that Chattanooga had just been named as the No. 1 most “Bible-minded” city in the United States, I was naturally pleased because I know the people of this region have a long and still-strong Christian heritage, that we rely on Godly principles most of the time and the Bible – universally regarded as the greatest book ever written – still influences daily decisions in both our public and private sectors.

The Bible has been called “Life’s Rule Book” for centuries. Our country was founded on it and our Constitution was based on it. Being cited as No. 1 is a fine distinction for Chattanooga but, in all honesty, it would take a real long time to needlessly try and convince me we are any better than the Christians who read their Bibles in, say, No. 2 Birmingham or in the No. 3 area of Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.

In 2010 it was determined there are 247 million Christians in the United States and 2.18 billion in the world, making it the largest religious denomination on earth, with almost a third of the global population as adherents of some kind. I’m thrilled to be known as “Most Biblical,” it sure beats some other descriptions.

Faith, however, doesn’t come with a yardstick or a meter and, candidly, I don’t believe there is any human being who can say this Christian is greater than that one, or this city is more prayerful than the next. Here is a case in point…

James Peron, the President of the Moorfield Storey Institute, tried to analyze the difference in an article on the HuffPost Political site Saturday where he compared the ten most-Biblical cities in the survey that was done by the evangelical-oriented Barna Group and the American Bible Society with the ten cities that finished last.

Here are the 2014 Survey results:

THE TOP TEN BIBLE-MINDED CITIES -- 1. Chattanooga, Tenn.; 2. Birmingham, Ala.; 3. Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.; 4. Springfield, Mo.; 5. Shreveport, La.; 6. Charlotte, N.C.; 7. Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C.; 8. Little Rock, Ark.; 9. Jackson, Miss.; and 10. Knoxville, Tenn.

THE LEAST BIBLE-MINDED CITIES – 1. Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass.; 2. Albany, N.Y.; 3. Boston
4. San Francisco; 5. Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 6. Buffalo, N.Y.; 7. Hartford/New Haven, Conn.; 8. Phoenix; 9. Burlington, Vt.; and 10. Portland, Maine

You need to know The Moorfield Storey Institute is a California-based new libertarian organization that, according to its website, is “a non-profit educational and charitable organization dedicated to the expansion of social freedom, tolerance, and equality of rights before the law.”

For the record, Moorfield Storey, who lived from 1845 until 1929, was president of the Anti-Imperialist League, president of the American Bar Association, and the first president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Storey, one of the first Civil Rights activists, successfully fought a segregation law in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing the case on the basis of property rights and freedom of contract.

Peron writes, “I checked (the survey) out by comparing the top 10 cities to the bottom 10, and seeing how they did on practical concerns, such as murder, rape and burglary. If you are more likely to be killed in Bible-oriented cities than in more secular outposts, it is little consolation that your killer is ‘born again’ and headed to heaven.”

Here is what Peron discovered in his comparison:

“For every 100,000 people the Bible-minded cities had 1.2 murders. The least Bible-minded cities had 0.7 per 100,000. In other words, you are almost twice as likely to be murdered in the most Bible-minded cities than in the least Bible-minded ones.

“Rape seems to also be a problem for Bible-minded cities. The rape rate per 100,000 people was 5.4 in the ten most fundamentalist cities and 3.9 in the ten most secular cities.

“If you are worried about someone breaking into your house, it appears you need to head to a secular city to reduce your chances of being victimized. The top 10 Bible cities had 127.7 burglaries per 100,000 while the average was 109 in the top 10 secular cities.”

Peron wrote that the Barna Group has done research into how Bible-believing Christians perceive themselves, how secular people perceive Bible-believing Christians, and how the Bible-believing Christians actually live. Barna Group even has a book about their findings entitled “UnChristian,” which was published by Baker Books.

“What they found,” wrote Peron, “was more and more people have negative views of evangelicals, and "outsiders" to their sects view them as primarily anti-gay, judgmental, and hypocrites. Worse yet, for them at least, even ‘young adults who participate regularly in a Christian church’ often ‘share some of the same negative perceptions as outsiders.’ Eighty percent of these young church attendees say their church is anti-gay and half said it was judgmental and/or hypocritical.”

Peron’s point? “My experiences coming out of this tradition is that these are people who need to feel superior to others and use their "faith" as the excuse. It isn't meant to make them more moral in any sense, just to feel better about themselves. I think a lot of their anti-gay views come from the same inferiority complex.”

And Peron’s reason? The Moorfield-Storey chief then included politics only in his closing paragraph: “The odd thing is Republicans still seem to think this sort of reputation and hypocrisy will help them electorally -- even as Barna is showing this a major reason for the decline of evangelicalism in America.”

* * *

Like I stated earlier, no human being can tell who is a good Bible-believing Christian and who is not. Faith doesn’t come with a yardstick or a meter.

royexum@aol.com


Pam Fleenor Is Prepared To Serve As Chancellor

Pam Fleenor has demonstrated in both her legal experience and in her campaign that she’s prepared to serve as chancellor, Part 1, of Hamilton County.  Pam began her legal practice here in her hometown in 1986. Her experience in real estate, commercial and contractual cases fit the Chancery Court. But her work as a court-appointed guardian for seniors with dementia and with ... (click for more)

Supporting Ryan Epperson For Register Of Deeds

I have known Ryan Epperson for approximately nine years. He has served this county as a member of the Army National Guard, and has been serving the citizens of this county for years as a member of the Hamilton County Sheriff Office. He has the ability and knowledge to be a successful register of deeds. He has told me and others he that he would seek to better equip the office ... (click for more)

City Set To Move Ahead On Study For Light Rail System; But Some Council Members Skeptical

City officials are set to move ahead in applying for a grant to study setting up a light rail system in Chattanooga, though some City Council members are skeptical. Blythe Bailey, city transportation director, said it might cost $20 million to set up a system that would use the Missionary Ridge Tunnel to go from downtown to the Chattanooga Airport as well as the Enterprise South ... (click for more)

Funeral Arrangements Set For Renee Card Monroe, Killed Monday In ATV Accident

Funeral arrangements have been set for Renee Card Monroe, 60, who was killed, along with her two grandchildren, Reagan and Jaxson Cohen, in an ATV accident on Monday when their ATV toppled into a pond. A lifelong resident of Chattanooga, Ms. Monroe was an active member of Eastwood Baptist Church where she helped lead a small Bible study group. Ms. Monroe was an entrepreneur ... (click for more)

Donnie Tyndall Hired To Lead Tennessee Basketball Program

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- University of Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart announced Tuesday the hiring of Donnie Tyndall as the Volunteers’ 19 th  men’s basketball coach. Tyndall will be introduced at a press conference at 2 p.m. ET at Pratt Pavilion. The 43-year-old Tyndall joins Tennessee from Southern Mississippi, where he posted ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Thompson Knock Trojans Out Of Share Of 5-AAA Lead

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Cleveland right-hander Taylor Thompson sent Soddy-Daisy hitters a clear message early in Tuesday’s District 5-AAA baseball game – “I’m on tonight, boys.” Thompson threw a neat three-hitter and struck out 10 as the Blue Raiders defeated Soddy-Daisy, 6-1, at Raider Field to knock the Trojans out of a share of first place in the district. “If I get settled ... (click for more)