Least Churched Cities in America

Question: “how would I find a listing of the least churched cities in America?

Answer: In casual conversations, I’ve heard the following cities mentioned as being among the least churched cities, aka most unchurched cities, in the United States: Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, New York City, Salt Lake City, Portland[2], Philadelphia, even Reno. Curiously, a comprehensive list wasn’t easy to find using a search phrase like “least churched cities“; a few more results did show using a search on “most unchurched cities“. Here’s what relevant data I could find about the least churched cities and the unchurched:

The 1000s of church leaders gathering at the Exponential Conference – National New Church Conference (Orlando, April 2010) probably have the answer, the lists, and more data than you can imagine. Until then, we’ll keep on the search.

Can you help? Add a comment and make the the definitive list of the top unchurched cities more available to the masses!

[update 10/17/10] On the Learnings @ Leadership Network blog, Most and Least Unchurched Cities, Dr. Warren Bird listed findings from a Barna report:

Cities with the largest share of unchurched adults (polled as: had not been to a religious worship service in the last 6 months):

  • San Francisco (44%)
  • Portland, Maine (43%)
  • Portland, Oregon (42%)
  • Albany (42%)
  • Boston (40%)
  • Sacramento (40%)
  • Seattle (40%)
  • Spokane (39%)
  • New York (38%)
  • Phoenix (38%)
  • Tucson (37%)
  • West Palm Beach (37%)

Cities with lowest share of self-identified Christians:

  • San Francisco (68%)
  • Portland, Oregon (71%)
  • Portland, Maine (72%)
  • Seattle (73%)
  • Sacramento (73%)
  • New York (73%)
  • San Diego (75%)
  • Los Angeles (75%)
  • Boston (76%)
  • Phoenix (78%)
  • Miami (78%)
  • Las Vegas (78%)
  • Denver (78%)

[cf. February 2010 Gallup Poll results for church attendance by state. 10 states with lowest church attendance: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington]

[update May 2011] Using a number of sources (U.S. Census, the yellow pages, the number of volunteers, the amount of money donated to religious organizations and spent on religious books), Men’s Health Metrogrades identified these 10 (out of 100) cities as the least religious:

  • Miami, FL
  • Newark, NJ
  • Manchester, NH
  • Fargo, ND
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Portland, ME
  • Hartford, CT
  • Boston, MA
  • Providence, RI
  • Burlington, VT

// [Update April 2015: via Barna Group’s What Are the Least Churched Cities in the U.S.?]


Barna’s definition of churchless and unchurched = Respondents who say they have not attended church within the past six months are classified as “Churchless.” //


38 responses to “Least Churched Cities in America”

  1. Also can use http://www.perceptgroup.com/ for more demographics … I’ve used them for unchurched and studies …to help data

  2. I noticed Salt Lake City made the list. Did this take into account the Mormon church? Meaning…if was the Mormon church included or removed? If included, I’d venture to say Salt Lake City is the most unchurched city in the country if you exclude the Mormon Church.

  3. Thank you for the share appreciate the efforts.


  4. i didn’t see this link – not neccessarily by city, but it’s definitely helpful. [see the whole series and the associate ppt with it too]


  5. Nice list. I have linked to this post on my own blog:

    http://beyondoutreach.blogspot.com/2011/05/reading-roundup.html What are the least church cities in America? DJ Chuang: Least Churched Cities in America http://goo.gl/Ysb0k

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