Bible Belt: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The area roughly considered to be part of the Bible Belt.
Religious affiliation in the U.S., based on the American Religious Identification Survey. Red and pink colors indicate a predominance of Baptists.

"Bible Belt" is an informal term for an area of the United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a dominant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is extremely high.

Much of the Bible Belt consists of the Southern United States. During the colonial period (1607–1776), the South was a stronghold of the Anglican church. Its transition to a stronghold of non-Anglican Protestantism occurred gradually over the next century, as a series of religious revival movements, many associated with the Baptist denomination, gained great popularity in the region.

The region is usually contrasted with the mainline Protestantism and Catholicism of the northeastern United States, the religiously diverse Midwest and Great Lakes, the Mormon Corridor in Utah and southern Idaho, and the relatively secular western United States. The percentage of non-religious people is the highest in the northwestern state of Washington at 25%, compared to the Bible Belt state of Alabama, where it is 6%.[1] Mississippi has the highest number of Baptists, at 55%.[1]

The earliest known usage of the term "Bible Belt" was by American journalist and social commentator H.L. Mencken, who in 1924 wrote in the Chicago Daily Tribune: "The old game, I suspect, is beginning to play out in the Bible Belt."[2]



The name "Bible Belt" has been applied historically to the South and parts of the Midwest, but is more commonly identified with the South. In a 1961 study, Wilbur Zielinkski delineated the region as the area in which Baptist denominations are the predominant religious affiliation. The region thus defined included most of the Southern United States, including most of Texas and Oklahoma in the southwest, and in the states south of the Ohio River, and extending east to include central West Virginia, Virginia south of Northern Virginia, and parts of Maryland. In addition, the Bible Belt covers parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. A 1978 study by Charles Heatwole identified the Bible Belt as the region dominated by 24 fundamentalist Protestant denominations, corresponding to essentially the same area mapped by Zielinski.[3]

Tweedie (1978)[4] defines the Bible Belt in terms of the audience for religious television. He finds two belts: one more eastern that stretches from central Florida through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and into Virginia; and another that is more western, moving from central Texas to the Dakotas, and concentrated in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Mississippi.

Notably absent from this belt are the areas of:[citation needed]


Several locations are occasionally referred to as the "Buckle of the Bible Belt":

  • Knoxville, Tennessee, the only major metropolitan city in America with an over 60% practicing Christian populace [7]
  • Lubbock, Texas, which is said to have more churches per capita than anywhere else in the nation[8]

There are also several locations outside the Bible Belt that are centers of evangelical Christian activity, many of them are often called "exclaves of the Bible Belt". They include Prescott, Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wheaton, Illinois; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and parts of Southern California, particularly Orange County.

Political and cultural context

The term Bible Belt is used informally by journalists and by its detractors, who suggest that the region allows religion to influence politics, science, and education.

In 1950, President Harry Truman told Catholic leaders he wanted to send an ambassador to the Vatican. Truman said the leading Democrats in Congress approved, but they warned him, "it would defeat Democratic Senators and Congressmen in the Bible Belt."[9]

In presidential elections, the Bible Belt states of Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas have voted for the Republican candidate in all elections since 1980. Virginia and North Carolina had not voted Democratic since 1964 and 1976, respectively, when they went for Barack Obama in the 2008 election.[10] Prior to the 1960s the majority of these states generally voted for the Democratic candidate after the formation of the modern Democratic party.[11]

Outside the United States

In Australia, the term usually refers to tracts within individual cities, for example the north-western suburbs of Sydney focusing on Baulkham Hills and the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide focusing on Paradise, Modbury and Golden Grove, though there is also a section of south-eastern Queensland comprising the towns of Laidley, Gatton and Toowoomba which is referred to as the Bible Belt.[12]

In Canada, the term is also sometimes used to describe several disparate regions which have a higher than average level of church attendance. These include the majority of rural southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, parts of southern Manitoba, the rural and more traditional parts of the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and the Saint John River Valley of New Brunswick.[13]

In China, Nanjing City is regarded as the area with the country's highest number of Christians since 1949. Amity Publishing House, a Christian publisher, is based in this city.[14]

In Denmark, the area of northwestern Jutland is often mentioned as a Bible Belt. The region has a large number of members of the Lutheran movement called "Indre Mission" (English: "Inner Mission").

In Finland, the rural areas of Ostrobothnia and Southern Ostrobothnia are sometimes considered a Bible Belt.[15]

In India, the north eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and the hill districts of Manipur form a continuous Bible Belt. Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya are India's only Christian dominated states. In fact in Nagaland, Christians constitute 90.02% (2001 census) of the population, with 80% professing the Baptist faith and thereby earning the sobriquet of The most Baptist state in the world. The Bible belt has emerged as one of the major areas of the world that sends out missionaries, particularly to South Asia and South East Asia.[16]

In the Netherlands, De Bijbelgordel stretches from the provinces of Zeeland to Overijssel. Immigrants from this area to the U.S. formed the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

In New Zealand, Mount Roskill, Auckland, contains the highest number of churches per capita in the country, and is the home of several Christian political candidates.[17]

In Northern Ireland, the region centered on the northern part of County Antrim is often referred to as Northern Ireland's Bible Belt. This is because the area is heavily Protestant with a large evangelical community. The MP for this constituency is Ian Paisley, a Free Presbyterian Reverend well known for his theological fundamentalism. The town of Ballymena, is the largest town in the constituency, is often referred to as the "buckle" of the Bible Belt.[18]

The Bible Belt in Norway covers the southwestern coast

In Norway, the Bible Belt covers the south-western coast from Agder to Møre og Romsdal. In these areas the conservative branch of the Church of Norway has a stronghold and the members usually associate themselves to Indremisjonen (Inner Mission). There are also numerous Pentecostals and members of the Free Churches, but these movements are also strongly represented in the rest of the country. The Bible Belt in Norway traditionally reflects the support for the Christian Democratic Party. However, especially since the 2000s, conservative bible belt Christians unhappy with the more liberal development of the party have increasingly turned to the Progress Party.[19][20]

In Sweden, there is a Bible Belt covering the area between the cities of Jönköping and Gothenburg, with a particular high concentration of non-conformists (Protestant congregations not affiliated with the Church of Sweden), especially Pentecostals and Congregationalists - and strong support for the Christian Democrats.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b "American Religious Identification Survey". 
  2. ^ Fred R. Shapiro (ed.). Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press (2006). ISBN 978-0-300-10798-2.
  3. ^ Barry Vann (2008), In search of Ulster-Scots land: the birth and geotheological imagings of a transatlantic people, 1603-1703, Univ of South Carolina Press, ISBN 1570037086, ISBN 9781570037085. Pages 138-140.
  4. ^ Tweedie, S.W. (1978) Viewing the Bible Belt. Journal of Popular Culture 11; 865-76
  5. ^ Elizabeth Hayes Turner, Women, culture, and community: religion and reform in Galveston, 1880-1920
  6. ^ "Archdiocese of New Orleans Demographics". Retrieved 2006-07-27. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Ceci Connolly, Texas Teaches Abstinence, With Mixed Grades, The Washington Post, Jan 21, 2003
  9. ^ Amanda Smith, Hostage of Fortune (2001) p. 604
  10. ^ United States presidential election, 1980 - Encyclopedia, History, Geography and Biography
  11. ^ United States presidential election, 1828 - Encyclopedia, History, Geography and Biography
  12. ^ Bible Belt wants to tighten a grip on power - Election 2004 -
  13. ^
  14. ^ Concerned Women for America - China: Will It Become a Christian Nation?
  15. ^ FINNQUEER Civil Union Law Demonstration in Front of Finnish Parliament, September 27, 2001
  16. ^ The Soul Hunters of Central Asia - Christianity Today magazine -
  17. ^ New Zealand - Mt Roskill
  18. ^ Slugger O'Toole
  19. ^ Aalberg, Per Ole (16 September 2003). "KrF kraftig tilbake i bibelbeltet". DagenMagazinet. 
  20. ^ Horn, Anders (23 August 2008). "Stjeler fra Høyre". Klassekamoen. 
  21. ^ see Eva M. Hamberg and Thorleif Pettersson, "The Religious Market: Denominational Competition and Religious Participation in Contemporary Sweden," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Sep., 1994), pp. 205+

Further reading

  • Randall Balmer; Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism Baylor University Press, 2004  
  • Denman, Stan. "Political Playing for the Soul of the American South: Theater and the Maintenance of Cultural Hegemony in the American Bible Belt" Southern Quarterly (2004) v. 42, Spring, 64-72.
  • Heatwole, Charles A.  "The Bible Belt; a problem of regional definition" Journal of Geography (1978) 77; 50-5
  • Christine Leigh Heyrman, Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (Knopf, 1997)
  • Samuel S. Hill, Charles H. Lippy, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds. Encyclopedia Of Religion In The South (2005)
  • Charles H. Lippy, ed. "Religion in South Carolina" (1993)
  • George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 (1980).
  • Jeffrey P. Moran; "The Scopes Trial and Southern Fundamentalism in Black and White: Race, Region, and Religion" Journal of Southern History. Volume: 70. Issue: 1. 2004. pp 95+.
  • Chris C. Park; Sacred Worlds: An Introduction to Geography and Religion Routledge, 1994
  • Randy J. Sparks. Religion in Mississippi University Press of Mississippi for the Mississippi Historical Society, . 2001. ISBN 1-57806-361-2.
  • William A. Stacey and Anson Shupe; "Religious Values and Religiosity in the Textbook Adoption Controversy in Texas, 1981" Review of Religious Research, Vol. 25, 1984
  • Turner, Elizabeth Hayes; Women, Culture and Community: Religion and Reform in Galveston 1880-1920, 1997.
  • Tweedie, S.W. (1978) Viewing the Bible Belt. Journal of Popular Culture 11; 865-76


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

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Bible Belt


Bible Belt

  1. An area in America in which Evangelical Protestantism is a pervasive or dominant part of the culture.

Simple English

The Bible Belt is term for a part of the United States in which many people believe in conservative Evangelical Protestantism making it a dominant part of the culture.

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