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San Francisco Bay Area Least 'Church Going' Metro In America

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Bay Area has the least church-going population of any place in America.

Maybe it's the abundance of amazing Sunday restaurant brunches, or the beautiful Bay views, the coastal hikes or the fact that people just can't find a parking spot that keep the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose metro Bay Area away from the pews on Sunday morning, but whatever the cause, Barna Research Group reports attendance is lowest in the nation.

While 38 percent of the U.S. doesn't go to church, in the greater San Francisco area, that number skyrockets to 61 percent.

Barna defines "unchurched" as, "adults who have not attended a church service, except for a holiday or special occasion, at any time within the past six months."


  1. San Francisco / Oakland / San Jose: 61%
  2. Burlington / Plattsburgh, VT 55%
  3. Boston, MA / Manchester, NH 53%
  4. Portland / Auburn, ME 52%
  5. Chico  / Redding 52%


The most "churched" in the nation were in the south, mainly metro areas in Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas.

RELATED: Bay Area Religion Is "Unaffiliated"

Barna looked at designated television market areas as defined by Nielsen in a landmark study of nearly 63,000 people over 10 years. The Bay Area's market area includes 11 counties from Santa Clara County clear up to Mendocino County.

Just because the Bay Area doesn't go to church doesn't mean the population has never been.  The research found people in the Bay Area have been exposed to church, but consciously chose to stop attending. Researchers described that as "De-Churched," with the Bay Area again leading this list, with nearly half the population leaving a church environment.


  1. Bay Area (48%)
  2. Seattle-Tacoma, WA (44%)
  3. Portland-Auburn, ME (43%)
  4. Boston-Manchester, MA (42%)
  5. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY (41%)

For those who have actually never attended church, West Palm Beach tops the list, followed by the central coast region, and New York City.  The Bay Area ranks sixth on that list.


  1. West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, FL (17%)
  2. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, CA (16%)
  3. New York, NY (15%)
  4. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, TX (15%)
  5. Chico-Redding, CA (15%)
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