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  1. Life & Culture

Glenn Beck ranks St. Petersburg among the top 15 cities to avoid like the plague

ST. PETERSBURG — Tough luck, St. Pete.

Looks like Florida's Sunshine City is one of the worst places to be when a crisis strikes, or so says conservative TV and radio personality Glenn Beck.

He says it's because St. Petersburg needs more religion. It falls sixth on his list of the least religious cities in the United States.

"Sorry to break it to you," he said about St. Petersburg's ranking on his radio show "The Glenn Beck Program.''

He announced the compilation, which lists Portland, Oregon as No. 1, on Tuesday.

"These are the cities to avoid like the plague," he said. "And if you look at that list, these are the cities that are already having trouble. We haven't even hit the road bump."

They are among the most progressive cities in America, Beck said during his show, but clarified that's not what landed them on his list. They are also the 15 cities with the least religious faith, Beck said.

But there are a few things he didn't mention.

The data he used for his ranking came from a Public Religion Research Institute study that analyzed the top religious traditions in the U.S. Catholicism, unaffiliated and white Protestant came out on top.

Beck's ranking came from cities with the most residents who claimed no particular religious affiliation. That category includes anyone who identified as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular, said Betsy Cooper, research associate with the Public Religion Research Institute.

Here's the full list, which actually lumps Tampa and St. Petersburg together:

1. Portland, Oregon (42 percent)

2. San Francisco (33 percent)

3. Seattle (33 percent)

4. Denver (32 percent)

5. Phoenix (26 percent)

6. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida (25 percent)

7. Columbus, Ohio (24 percent)

8. Detroit (24 percent)

9. Boston (24 percent)

10. Los Angeles (24 percent)

11. Milwaukee (23 percent)

12. Las Vegas (23 percent)

13. Minneapolis-St. Paul (23 percent)

14. Washington, D.C. (23 percent)

15. St. Louis (22 percent)

During his show, Beck implied this ranking wasn't meant to be particularly flattering. It seems St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, however, was okay with the distinction.

Woke up, sun shining, & @glennbeck lumping #StPete in w/ Portland-San Fran-Seattle-Denver-Phoenix as cities to avoid. An honor! #ThanksGlenn

For more information on the religious make-up of the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area, visit this American Values Atlas database from the Public Religion Research Institute.

News researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.

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