The research group Barna has just issued its list of the most “post-Christian” cities in America, with those in the Northeast region and particularly New England reaching the top. The top eight cities on the list are all in this region, reports Relevant magazine (June 7). The Springfield-Holyoke area of Massachusetts, the Portland-Auburn region of Maine, Providence, Rhode Island, Burlington, Vermont, and Boston make up the top five. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo in California and Washington’s Seattle-Tacoma were the only non-Northeast cities in the top 10. The criteria Barna used to determine whether cities fit into the “post-Christian” category included whether people in the city had read the Bible in the last week (87 percent of people in Springfield-Holyoke had not), attended church in the last week (65 percent in Springfield-Holyoke had not), ever made a commitment to Jesus (60 percent did not in Springfield-Holyoke), prayed to God in the last week (a no from 47 percent in Springfield-Holyoke), and disagreed that faith is important in their lives (41 percent of Springfield-Holyoke residents). “Interestingly, when asked if they ‘do not believe in God,’ the top city on the list (you guessed it, Springfield-Holyoke) only had 11 percent of those asked confirm they were atheist.”


Arabs are increasingly saying they are no longer religious, according to the largest and most in-depth survey undertaken of the Middle East and North Africa. The finding is one of several others on how Arabs feel about a wide range of issues, from women’s rights and migration to security and sexuality. The Arab Barometer research network interviewed more than 25,000 people for the survey across 10 countries and the Palestinian territories between late 2018 and spring 2019. A BBC report on this research (June 24) states that the number of people across the region identifying as “not religious” has risen from 8 percent to 13 percent since 2013, with the rise being greatest among those under 30, among whom 18 percent identify as not religious. While only Yemen saw a fall in this category, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco saw the highest increases, with Tunisia going from about 15 to 30 percent claiming to be non-religious. In Egypt, the percentage rose from about 2 to 10 percent. In Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq, the non-religious population remained stable.