Study: People tweet more about church than beer
July 9th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Study: People tweet more about church than beer

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – In an effort to look at cultural differences across the United States, a data analysis company selected two words that it felt exemplified an American cultural divide and analyzed their usage on Twitter.

The words: “beer” and “church.”

And according to the study by Floatingsheep.org, Americans tweet more about church than beer, and there is a distinct regional divide between the tweets.

Church tweets were most common in the Southeast United States, while tweets about beer were most prevalent in the Northeast.

“We found out that there is a geography to what people tweet about, and there are some geographic differences to Twitter,” said Dr. Matthew Zook, a geography professor at the University of Kentucky and co-founder of Floating Sheep. “You have these offline cultural differences that are being replicated in information space like Twitter.”

The group went through roughly 10 million geotagged tweets from June 22 to June 29 and found that 17,686 tweets were sent with the word “church,” while 14,405 tweets were sent containing the word “beer.”

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Zook and his group selected the words because they believed religion and drinking have rich differences.

“We have been doing this for a while, and we have a set of favorite words that really capture regional differences,” Zook said.

According to the report, which was first reported by Britain's Guardian newspaper, San Francisco was the most beer-focused city in the country, while Dallas was the most focused on church.

“San Francisco has the largest margin in favor of ‘beer’ tweets (191 compared to 46 for ‘church’) with Boston (Suffolk County) running a close second,” the report says. “In contrast, Dallas, Texas wins the FloatingSheep award for most geotagged tweets about ‘church’ with 178 compared to only 83 about ‘beer.’ ”

The study also found that “counties with high numbers of church tweets are surrounded by counties with similar patterns and ... counties with many beer tweets are surrounded by like-tweeting counties.”

The social networking site Twitter allows users to note or highlight their locations with a service called geotagging, which utilizes the GPS feature on mobile phones or computers to precisely determine the location. Though the report cautions that geotagged tweets are rare on Twitter – they account for only 1% to 3% of tweets – that small percentage yields a large number of tweets to use, the analysts say.

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The results of the "church or beer "study validate past studies by Floatingsheep.org, the analysts say.

In 2010, the group found that there is a larger than normal concentration of bars in the Northeast United States.

And in 2009, a study titled “The Virtual ‘Bible Belt’” found a larger than normal concentration of churches in the American South and Midwest, especially compared with the Northeast United States.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Church

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Adventist Report

    ► Very interesting study... good post!!!

    ► http://www.adventistreport.com/2012/07/study-people-tweet-more-about-church.html

    July 9, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Adventist Dingbat


      July 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Unknown

      Checkout prolapsed.net, its very informative.

      July 9, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  2. tacobellninja

    Ill rep the Church in So-Cal

    July 9, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  3. crapburger

    Check out the comparison chart for the tweets at mudfall.com. Church is way better than beer. Beer is the devil spit!

    July 9, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Magic Alex

      Do you really care enough to waste your time doing that? Isn't twitter just the technological equivalent of a twinkie?

      July 9, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  4. Barry Wom

    I imagine that "beer would have done better is more twitter users were of legal age to drink, but a sizable proportion are not.

    July 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Nice point I hadn't thought of that.

      July 9, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Barry Wom

      You said, "I imagine that "beer would have done better is more twitter users were of legal age to drink, but a sizable proportion are not."
      Maybe we should raise the legal age for religion to 21.

      July 10, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  5. Bootyfunk

    beer and church are both drugs, so i can see the comparison. 14k to 17k tweets... not much difference.

    July 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Lying seems to be the drug of your choice Booty.

      July 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  6. Safaris

    People who use Twitter are sheep anyway.

    July 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Boo hoo, Safaris has no friends to tweet.

      July 9, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  7. Jay

    Who DAFUQ cares?!

    July 9, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • mathgeek

      y u read it

      July 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Should we care about this? I mean, didn't we already know?

    July 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  9. Alien Orifice

    Using undiscovered evidence, I have proven that more people tweet about:

    Football than Soccer
    V.agina than Pen.i.s
    Gossip than Science
    Catholics than Mormons
    Pe.eing than Po.oping
    N.udity than Non-N.udity
    Lakers than Celtics
    Steak than Chicken
    Kitties than Bunnies
    Cancer than Aids
    Cooking than Hoarding

    Back to work....

    July 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • M1k3el

      It's a Fact!

      July 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Real "Football" is Soccer! 🙂

      July 10, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  10. tim

    Doing simple logistics and math, way more people do not attend church than do attend church.

    I like beer. Don't like church.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually Tim, more people are reading the Bible than listening to man made lies. And you?

      July 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Lux

      What is the bible if not man-made lies?

      July 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  11. Beer Church


    July 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Chuckles

      You might also be interested to know that I believe in Poland they have a Beer Party as a part of government. It started out as sort of a joke but ended up acquiring enough votes to actually get a member into there who's sole duty is the promotion of beer and beer related products.

      July 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Chuckles, that's Germany, not Poland.

      July 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      In Italy, a porn star named La Cicciolina was elected to parlaiment, and even kept making films while she was in office, and even offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein if he would allow inspections for WMDs just before the Iraq War (which would also have saved his regime and his life, ironically).

      Life is wonderful at times, isn't it?

      July 10, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  12. Alien Orifice

    Beer good. Church bad.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • L

      atheism bad.like beer.

      July 9, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Barry Wom

      Exactly so, L! Atheism is bad like beer. However, since beer is for the most part a good thing, so much so that monks made and drank it, that means atheism iis for the most part a good thing too.

      Thanks for clarifying that!

      July 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  13. UK Dave & my fellow scientists

    You are forced to reduce your crimes!
    Perhaps the penalty is indeed DEATH!

    July 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • The Correctors

      BEAUTIFUL PENALTY! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      July 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  14. Patrick

    Beer is something you discuss, and for the most part it does not matter what kind you enjoy. Church is something you already have your mind closed about, and it is rarely discussed, but instead told. Twitter is about telling. Now get a church that gives free beer and twitter will light up! If it starts this Sunday in the North East the concept will find it's way to the South East within the next 10 years. Sad but true. Unless the Southern Baptist start it first as a means to get the young ones back! It appears shortly after age 18 most Southern Baptist kids fly the coup. You guys can start with beer and get the 21 y/o back! Moderation no over serving it will work.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Patrick has no friends to discuss anything.

      July 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  15. Renee Marie Jones

    I am not sure about bars, but when I lived in North Carolina there seemed to be more "gentleman's clubs" (i.e. strip joints) than I have ever seen anywhere else. Maybe they call it "going to church?"

    July 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Floating sheep did that analysis too:


      It appears there are more churches than strip clubs (or gun shops) in NC. What this data does not show is variance against a national average.

      July 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  16. drew

    thats because after a lot of beer, attempting to tweet something is harder than taking the MCATs.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Patrick

      You have to turn the iPhone sideways, and even if you miss up they know what's going on!

      July 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  17. Sue

    From my experience, the people who are tweeting about church are actually gossiping about the people in church, their pastor, or bit.ching about the service. A lot of it would be negative, and very un-church-like, I suspect. Probable a lot of it gets posted during services too. It just takes the place of whispering, which is what people use to do a few years ago.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Patrick

      Yup and most of them are just too stupid to know that when they tell on them they will have the proof in hand already! Pastor would you like to see what Mary really thinks about you?

      July 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  18. Moby Schtick

    In the South, "church" is merely a social club; that the word appears more often in tweets says nothing about spirituality or god belief–other than the most milquetoast confirmation possible.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Narry

      And beer is a social thing everywhere else, right?

      July 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      lol wut?! twitter IS a social mechanic; that's why my comment was insightful and yours was just "blah."

      July 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    If the South tweets more about church then why are there so many drunken drivers killing people in Texas. Remember people in the North, especially NY, ride subways or other means of public transportation.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      All this 'analysis' proves is that the south tweets more about church than beer. What would the results be if they incuded 'NASCAR' and 'football', or perhaps 'Bud' instead of 'beer', which I suspect are nearly synonymous terms in the south?

      July 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Patrick

      Notice Harris county is much more about beer than church. Look at the map, it shows it. It's very true about the south in general. Houston does not fit in that category!

      July 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  20. Bill

    I would prefer my 1-year-old daughter to ride in a car driven by someone more interested in church than beer.

    July 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Major Tom

      You'd think twice about making that statement if you had a 1-year old son instead.

      July 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      But hopefully not someone tweeting about church while driving?

      July 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Jimmy

      If your kid is older, and know they're gay, then the church-minded driver isn't so safe either. Some gay kids take rides and are never seen alive again.

      July 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • BananaSlug

      A driver who believes that their actions a mearly the work of God and not their own and that death is not the end is just as impared as someone who has been drinking. I'd rather the driver believe in the finality of death and the importance of their own actions.

      July 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
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