The South is one of the most Bible-centric areas of the country

From the Shine of the Miraculous Medal to the Bald Knob Cross, religious symbols are sprinkled across the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States.

And according to a new study, the southeast Missouri is one of the most Bible-centric places in the country.

That's something that doesn't surprise Father Tom Kiefer of St. Mary Cathedral Parish in Cape Girardeau.

"People here are so responsive. Our diocese in the southern part of Missouri is so responsive when it comes to catastrophes like we saw after the tornado in Joplin," Fr. Kiefer said.

The study, commissioned by the American Bible Society, tallied the percentage of people who are Bible-minded, or those who claim to read the Bible once a week and strongly agree with it's teachings.

The study showed 40% of people in the south fall into that category, which ranked 24th among the 96 media markets surveyed.

"It's discouraging that 40% of people read it just once a week," said Jeff Moran of Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape.

Moran says while the ranking is high, the Heartland still has a lot of work to do to raise that 40% figure.

He says it starts with parents making the Bible the focus of the home.

"If it's relied upon by the church to make that number grow, I don't think it's going to grow," he said.

But Father Kiefer says he already thinks that number is too low and doesn't accurately describe just how Bible-centric the Heartland is.

"There's a lot of good people out there that may not have anything against the Bible, but may have no real reason to read it," he said.  "It doesn't mean they're bad people. It doesn't mean anything other than in the survey they weren't Bible readers."

You can view the complete study here.

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