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I travel often along what I call the-giant–light-up-white-cross-road to see my family. The drive to New Jersey from Birmingham takes me through Chattanooga, Tennessee, a town I know for its choo-choo and highway bedazzled with churches and billboards professing love for Jesus. I had thought of Chattanooga as Church-Alley, with main and back roads alike offering a house of worship for Christian denominations I had never heard of.
Chattanooga is the most “churched” state in 2017 according to the Barna research on church attendance country-wide. And it would seem, to me, the reason C-Town takes the cake is the foreboding presence of warehouse-style churches, sitting up on the hills near the interstate like eager bellhops, waiting to take you in as soon as you leave your car.
Birmingham ranked in at number 5 in this Barna study, along with Anniston and Tuscaloosa, with 56% of the population reporting themselves to be weekly churchgoers, not just for Christmas and Easter. Of course Birmingham has its megachurches like Briarwood and Hunter Street, and we do have some of the roadside churches that were once garages.
But Birmingham is a labyrinth of churches in every shape and size, every language, and theological adherence. As far as the most Bible-minded cities are concerned, Barna lists Birmingham as the 2nd most in the country, and the top most Bible-minded city in 2015. But what I want to know is how many other states have a sign as iconic as the “Go to church or the devil will get you” sign. Alabama certainly deserves some accolades for that one.