SALT LAKE CITY — Two new rankings of Bible-minded cities put Salt Lake City near or at the bottom of their lists.
Online articles by Time.com about each ranking prompted a response Thursday from the LDS Church's official website, which released a new edition of its "Getting it Right" series.
The MormonNewsroom.org blog pointed out that Utah's 1.95 million Mormons are spending an hour of their Sabbath worship each week this year in Sunday School classes studying the Old Testament. Next year, the same hour will be devoted to the New Testament.
The LDS Church's blog post also questioned the methodology of the rankings produced by BibleGateway.com, which had Salt Lake City 100th on its list — dead last. Time.com inferred that made Salt Lake America's "Most Godless City." But BibleGateway's rankings were based solely on how often people in a region used its own Bible-searching software.
The Mormon Newsroom blog, which is operated by LDS Church Public Affairs, pointed out that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as LDS or Mormons, search the Bible using LDS.org, the church's Gospel Library mobile app or their own personal scriptures.
Time.com appeared to anticipate the LDS response.
"Bringing up the rear as the least Bible-reading city in the country is ... Salt Lake City, Utah," one Time piece said, "whose heavily Mormon population would probably dispute any suggestion they aren’t doing a lot of Bible reading. Salt Lake’s position is likely due to the absence of the Book of Mormon in Bible Gateway’s searchable databases."
The other study, by the American Bible Society, ranked regions based on how many people said they read the Bible in the past seven days and how accurate they consider it to be. Salt Lake City ranked 87th.
The ABS website didn't release any details about the study.
The LDS blog post lists several reasons the LDS Church might deserve a stronger Bible-study reputation.
"The National Bible Association chose Salt Lake City as National Bible City and the location for its National Bible Week in November 2013," the post reported.
The LDS Church built a 3-acre replica of ancient Jerusalem 56 miles south of Salt Lake City in 2010. The site is a working set where 67 Bible videos about the life of Jesus Christ and other New Testament scenes have been shot. The videos have been viewed millions of times online.
To read the full post, visit www.mormonnewsroom.org/blog/.