Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Religion in the Land of None

Having grown up in Northern California and Oregon, I have a good sense of the religious proclivities of the people of the region.  Catholics, Mormons, and Pentecostals (of the 4 Square variety), do well but the rest of us, not so well.  But even there, they make up a small percentage of the population.  Oregon, Washington, and Alaska make up a section of the country where the non-religious have always thrived.  It's a land of individualism.

Keith Watkins, who has guest posted several times here, has written a post that invites conversation.  Keith is a religious historian, expert in the area of Christian worship, and father of the General Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  He notes a presentation awhile back, at which a presenter noted the demographics of the region.

In Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, 37.2% of the population can be called adherents; they claim connections with a church and participate enough to be counted. A slightly higher percentage, 37.8%, are identifiers who claim to belong but do not participate. The rest are nones: people who make no claim at all to religious affiliation. A high percentage of them, however, affirm that they are interested in spiritual matters.

Note the numbers -- nearly 40% identify but don't participate and then 20% don't belong to anything.  And yet, this doesn't mean that they're secularists or rejecting the spiritual, they simply don't desire to do so in conventionally communal ways.  This, has, of course always been the way of the West, but the question is:  to what degree is the rest of the nation following this path? 

To read more of this, click here and join the conversation at Keith Watkins Historian

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