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Oh, So There's the Bible Belt

In my previous entry, I wrote:

What I find interesting about this map is how the Bible Belt doesn't seem to exist the way I would have thought it did. I suppose I imagined it as starting in Texas and Oklahoma, with a tip up in Missouri, down through all the Southeastern states. It isn't that at all.
This map is of leading church bodies, also by county:

US Religion: Church Bodies

Oh, so there's the Bible Belt -- the red area dominated by Baptists. It's mostly as I envisioned it, though I hadn't thought it would stop in mid-south Texas, in southern Louisiana, or at the Florida panhandle, nor had I thought it would extend so far into Kentucky, West Virginia (except for its panhandle), or Virginia -- but thinking about the cultures of these states, it all makes sense.

So what is the Bible Belt? Is it where Baptists predominate, as shown on this map? Is it where high percentages of the population belong to one church or another, as in the map from my previous entry? Or is it where the two intersect? A map of the latter would start in eastern New Mexico, be darkest red in western Texas and western Oklahoma, and extend through Arkansas and northern Louisiana to Mississippi and Alabama.

And the "buckle" of the Bible Belt? I would nominate two areas where not only do high percentages of the population belong to a church, and where the leading church is Baptist, but where the Baptists claim more than half the population (see the counties marked with diamonds on the full-size map): an area running from western Texas to western Oklahoma, and another running from southwestern Alabama through northeastern Louisiana and into southeastern Arkansas.


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