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.

Why Oscar Brock Cares About Our Children

I have known Oscar Brock since I was one of the first females to join the Jaycees. Chattanooga is very lucky to have him as a concerned citizen. When I first joined the Jaycees, I wanted to do more for the community.  Oscar has taken that desire and surpassed anything I could ever imagine. He continues to strive for the underdog and do what is right. He is always willing to ... (click for more)

Backing Vince Dean For Criminal Court Clerk

I have known Vince Dean for over 30 years and served with him throughout his exemplary career with the Chattanooga Police Department. In all of my commands, he was an invaluable asset, not only to me as a trusted and extremely competent subordinate but to the department and the City as a true professional. His public service also extended to the City of East Ridge and the State ... (click for more)

County Commission Chairmanship Up For Grabs After Exit Of Henry, Skillern

The chairmanship of the County Commission is up for grabs after the exit of two commissioners who have held the post in recent years. Larry Henry is moving on to serve as Circuit Court clerk. Fred Skillern was upset by Randy Fairbanks in the Republican primary. Most of the returning commissioners have their eye on the possibility of taking over as chairman, or at least getting ... (click for more)

PAST Act On Horse Abuse Stalls Out In U.S. House Despite 70% Support

Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, issued the following statement today regarding the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518:   “I regret to inform you that Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses  to bring the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to the floor for a vote.  His decision ... (click for more)

Jones, Vols Meet The Press A Day Before Fall Football Begins

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- What did  Butch Jones  have to say about Tennessee’s 2014 football team on the eve of the Vols' first practice? Find out in this transcript of Thursday’s press conference:  HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES (Opening Statement) "It's great to see everyone, and I hope everyone had a great summer. We will hold an open practice on Saturday ... (click for more)

Jane Webb Is A Fun-Loving Runner At Heart

Jane Webb isn’t one of those people who started running when she was a kid, but she loves the benefits since she restarted her running career about four years ago. She’s all about being active and doing things that are good for you,   but long-distance running never really captured her attention and she’s found that she can receive the same payoff by covering ... (click for more)