By Gary Berg-Cross
It is perhaps not surprising to find studies measuring various religious qualities in the United States. One from 2010 is aptly called the, “2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS)”. The report was the work of Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB). It provides detailed county by county information on congregations, members, adherents and attendance for 236 different faiths groups.
Perhaps most interesting are the summaries of which are the most “religious” city/metropolitan areas. And the results aren’t that surprising. Salt Lake City comes out as the most religious city ( of 52 with populations > 1 million) based on what the study called its 74 percent population identifying as a religious adherent (73,487 religious adherents per 100,000 persons). Most of the other top cities (or states) were in the South as one might expect. A slightly different study, focusing on Bible belief and including smaller cities finds Knoxville TN as what they called the most Bible-Minded city.
Where are the more secular cities and states? Again not surprising the research found them in the West and Northeast. The greater area of Portland, OR-WA was the least religious/most secular city with about 32 percent identifying as a religious adherent. States like NY and Rhode Island are about the same level. That’s less than half of Salt Lake or Mississippi which is the most religious state. DC came in as the 3rd most secular city.
It is a bit interesting that the surveys of religious observance provides an inverse look at secularity. It will be more interesting when we have funded surveys of the various forms of secularity and non-belief. Just as some surveys covers a wealth of religious sects, it would be interesting to see a bigger spectrum on non-belief. We might need a comparable large secular/humanist organization to fund such a detailed look, but it might be an important barometer to measure trends. We might just need a secular angel to fund it. Perhaps the next Reason Rally will generate enough interest to pull that off.
See a HuPo article for more on this topic.
Secular City: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1396331.The_Secular_City