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Jedi is not the 2nd most popular religion in any state? How disapointing
June 5, 2014 1:30 PM   Subscribe

The second-largest religion in each state
Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about 2 percent as Mormon. But what about the rest of us?
posted by davidstandaford (104 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I had no idea there were so many Jewish brethren in Tennessee.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:33 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have any idea what the one county that's not plurality Christian is? Any guesses I have would be based on pretty crude stereotyping.
posted by Copronymus at 1:38 PM on June 5


I'm surprised that Judaism isn't the next biggest religion in more states, given the relative size of the Jewish population in the United States. It's all down to clumping, I guess.
posted by Thing at 1:38 PM on June 5


The county map seems to confirm that my surprise that California's 2nd isn't Judaism is an artifact of my time in LA.
posted by weston at 1:39 PM on June 5


Baha'is in South Carolina? I don't understand.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:39 PM on June 5


Here's the link for the full 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study (RCMS), from which the charts in the article are taken.
posted by Perplexity at 1:41 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


It's not that there are a lot of Baha'i in South Carolina, it's just that there are damn few of anybody else (besides Christians).
posted by Justinian at 1:42 PM on June 5


So, a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar in New York. The bartender says, "Where do I have to go to celebrate the Martyrdom of the Báb, St. Lawrence County?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:42 PM on June 5 [17 favorites]


Kansas is quite the patchwork on that last map.
posted by desjardins at 1:42 PM on June 5


I expected to see more pagans than Baha'is in South Carolina. Maybe they didn't count them though.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:44 PM on June 5


Does anyone have any idea what the one county that's not plurality Christian is?

Exactly what I came to ask. My guess is Rockland County, NY. But that's just a guess.

As far as Judaism being a larger population, actually, it's only about 1.7-1.8% of the U.S.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:44 PM on June 5


how many sith?
posted by bruce at 1:45 PM on June 5


I'm surprised that Judaism isn't the next biggest religion in more states, given the relative size of the Jewish population in the United States. It's all down to clumping, I guess.

Until I left for college, I could count the number of Jewish people I had met on one hand and still have a finger a left over. It's remarkable how clustered that population is.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:45 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Yes, but that's still almost triple the next largest non-Christian population in the United States.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on June 5


(re: Sophie1's comment about Jews making up 1.8% of the US population)
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on June 5


Those maps are fascinating. The thing which strikes me is the regions of dominance. All the Judaism in the northeast, all the Buddhism in the west, all the Islam in southeast and midwest. Another thing which I found interesting was the California north south split on the county map. The north Buddhist and the south Islam.

Anybody know details on S. Carolina Baha'i?
posted by bukvich at 1:47 PM on June 5


Hindus in Delaware? I spent a lot of time in and around Wilmington, and unless something dramatic has changed very recently, color me surprised.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:48 PM on June 5


Does anyone have any idea what the one county that's not plurality Christian is?

Exactly what I came to ask. My guess is Rockland County, NY. But that's just a guess.


I was thinking the same thing, but Rockland is 37.9% Jewish and 53.0% Catholic.
posted by Etrigan at 1:49 PM on June 5


It would be interesting to have a way to visualize both the largest denomination groups AND the percent of people claiming an adherence to any religion at the same time. Here's where that latter data comes from, and it's also a really interesting store of information.
posted by selfnoise at 1:49 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I'm a little surprised they included LDS in Christian. I know it would have massively screwed with the results, but most of Christianity in the U.S. still doesn't accept Mormonism as a Christian denomination.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:50 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


how many sith?

Always there are two...
posted by The Tensor at 1:51 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


Where are people seeing a non-Christian plurality county? I can't find it!
posted by Justinian at 1:52 PM on June 5


Only 23% Catholic? That's a surprise. I knew we were in the minority but not by that much.
posted by jonmc at 1:52 PM on June 5


Sophie1: I was just about to comment on this. I would say that most non-Mormons don't consider Mormons to be christian.

That being said, many many protestants don't consider Catholics to be Christians either.
posted by el io at 1:53 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


I had no idea there were so many Jewish brethren in Tennessee.

Oh, they're there- see Memphis-- and they, at one time, included Elvis's maternal grandmother. He's ours, thanks to matrilineal descent!
posted by damayanti at 1:54 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we're 'papists.'
posted by jonmc at 1:54 PM on June 5


Where are people seeing a non-Christian plurality county? I can't find it!

Neither can we, but the county-by-county map says that Christianity is only the majority in 3,142 out of 3.143 US counties.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:56 PM on June 5


Does anyone have any idea what the one county that's not plurality Christian is? Any guesses I have would be based on pretty crude stereotyping.

Some of the rural/mountain/west counties seem to have very low numbers. Maybe there's a county where the number of data points was zero, or like one Christians and two Jews?
posted by The Tensor at 1:56 PM on June 5


At the top of the religion by county map it states that 3142 of 3143 counties are majority Christian.

(What Holy ZSF said)
posted by Sophie1 at 1:57 PM on June 5


I've met a fair number of Indian people around Wilmington. There's a Hindu temple in Hockessin.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:03 PM on June 5


Baha'is in South Carolina? I don't understand.

Anybody know details on S. Carolina Baha'i?

Louis Gregory -- there's a museum dedicated to him in Charleston and an institute named after him in Hemingway.

Here's a thesis that explores the topic very extensively (warning, 420-page PDF): "Most Great Reconstruction": The Baha'i Faith in Jim Crow South Carolina.
The religion owed much of its strength in the state to a series of campaigns from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, in which some twenty thousand people from all walks of life—from young white college students to elderly black former sharecroppers—had become Bahá’ís. However, the origins of South Carolina’s robust Bahá’í movement lay not in the social upheavals of the 1960s, but in painstaking efforts to build an interracial faith community during the long decades of segregation and disfranchisement. In contrast to every other religious organization in early-twentieth century South Carolina, the Bahá’ís developed an explicit policy of promoting racial integration at the local level.
posted by divined by radio at 2:08 PM on June 5 [14 favorites]


It's not that there are a lot of Baha'i in South Carolina, it's just that there are damn few of anybody else (besides Christians).
This. I know exactly as many Jews from SC as I know Baha'i from SC, one of each.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:09 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Dudeism is definitely the second largest in California.
posted by telstar at 2:09 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]




I want to slap the editors who think releasing these data as ordinal variables (e.g., this recent Slate piece on language fluency by state) without characterizing the proportions is totally valid.
posted by clockzero at 2:15 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


Whoa! The #2 religion in Indiana is Islam??? I would have assumed Judaism. Islam? That's mind-boggling, for some reason. Probably because of the general bass-akwards, 19th-century political climate around here.

Though, come to think of it, I do see a lot of women, even here in corn-pone Muncie, wearing hijabs.

Wow.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:15 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Jedi is not the 2nd most popular religion in any state? How disappointing.

I find their lack of faith disturbing.
posted by The Bellman at 2:16 PM on June 5 [13 favorites]


I don't understand what the yellow stuff means in the second map..
posted by bleep at 2:17 PM on June 5


I wonder how different it would look if atheism was included. I bet the west would look a lot less Buddhist, for starters. Although it's possible I'm vastly underestimating the number of people who consider themselves Buddhists, which would be a happy surprise.
posted by dialetheia at 2:19 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Only 23% Catholic? That's a surprise. I knew we were in the minority but not by that much.

Dude, you're still the largest denomination by far. Chill.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:22 PM on June 5


(Oh, wait. Southern Baptists clobber you down there. You may continue being non-chill.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:24 PM on June 5


~Only 23% Catholic? That's a surprise. I knew we were in the minority but not by that much.
~Dude, you're still the largest denomination by far. Chill.


FWIW, there was a time, not that long ago, when Catholicism would have been counted as separate from Christianity in many parts of this country. There are still some fundamentalist groups that view Catholicism as not-Christian, or only begrudgingly so.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:27 PM on June 5


Well, yeah. That's kind of the whole point of Protestantism.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:29 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Yes, but that's still almost triple the next largest non-Christian population in the United States.
I think you're talking about Judaism? If so, no, not true; not even close. At least according to data sourced to Pew on Wikipedia's Religion in the United States page, "Nothing in Particular"/"Agnostic"/"Atheism" is almost 20%, beating out (for example) both Evangelical Protestant (19%) and Mainline Protestant (15%). And even if you break them up into "Nothing", "Agnostic", and "Atheist", they still all significantly outpopulate Judaism individually (and "Nothing" does so by a huge margin - a lot of people don't like saying they're atheists).
posted by Flunkie at 2:30 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Trying to find that one non-majority-christian county. I think it might be Loving, TX, the census has the count listed as 6 Evangelical Protestant, 76 Unclaimed.
posted by troika at 2:39 PM on June 5


LOL, and I'm guessing many of the current atheists could be double-counted as Jews, likewise Buddhists.
posted by Dreidl at 2:43 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Ugh, nevermind, "unclaimed" is the largest group for a variety of counties. Hmmm.
posted by troika at 2:43 PM on June 5


bleep: "I don't understand what the yellow stuff means in the second map.."
Adherents reported* (1,597)

*Bahá'í and Zoroastrian maintain adherent lists by mailing address rather than by congregation. In two counties without congregations, Zoroastrians reported the most adherents. In two others, Zoroastrians and Bahá'í reported the same number of adherents. In all others, Bahá'í reported the most.
Bahá'í is the largest non-Christian Tradition in 1,566 (or 1,563 depending on how you count ties) counties. Most of these are low-population/rural counties. So while Bahá'í is the largest non-Christian Tradition in the most counties, by population it's only the largest non-Christian Tradition in one state.
posted by zinon at 2:44 PM on June 5


Yeah, that one non-Christian county is bugging me, too. I've been going through the counties with the least adherents one by one (and I did all of AK and HI in lumps)...so far the closest candidate is Hawaii County, HI, with 30,616 Catholic to 27,069 Buddhist. But that's obviously not close enough to be suspect.
posted by wending my way at 2:56 PM on June 5


Of course, had they bothered to count the non-religious, that'd likely be the answer across the board. But then they couldn't make an infographic. Between 10 and 20% of the country reports themselves as non-religious, depending on the survey. If you lump the Christians, that's the second-largest group by a large margin. If you split the Christians (as Catholics/Protestants/Orthodox/LDS or by denomination), that's third.
posted by hoyland at 3:00 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I was probably unclear...I went through all of the counties in AK and HI at one time, rather than sticking strictly to order of least adherents, as "lumps" in my own personal search. I didn't do any religious lumping. (Through AL and AZ now, as well.)
posted by wending my way at 3:07 PM on June 5


wending my way, you're doing the Lord's work trying to figure the 1-in-3143 non-Christian county for us

(I typed without even realizing my word choice, but if you think I'm going to change that out of some sort of potential embarrassment, you don't know me at all.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:15 PM on June 5


Time for the old Emo Philips joke:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!"

He said, "Nobody loves me."
I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
He said, "Yes."
I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"
He said, "A Christian."
I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?"
He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me, too! What franchise?"
He said, "Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region."
I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."
I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.
posted by Xoc at 3:17 PM on June 5 [13 favorites]


Florida is more Muslim than Jewish? Whoa.
posted by Daily Alice at 3:22 PM on June 5


The county with plurality non christian must be Deerfield.
posted by jpe at 3:26 PM on June 5


Dearborn, not Deerfield. And it's only 8% Muslim. So.....no.
posted by jpe at 3:34 PM on June 5


yep, that's what I was thinking too, but I haven't looked at the data.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 3:34 PM on June 5


Florida is more Muslim than Jewish? Whoa

That's highly suspect to say the least. Most data I've seen has Jews outnumbering Muslims in Florida by something like 3-1. I wonder if it's a problem with not counting non-religious Jews. I'm guessing the proportion of non-observant Jews is higher in Florida than in many other Jewish communities.
posted by Justinian at 3:40 PM on June 5


To put it another way, it's possible observant Muslims outnumber observant Jews in Florida because the majority of Jews in Florida are non-observant.
posted by Justinian at 3:41 PM on June 5


Bahá'í is the largest non-Christian Tradition in 1,566 (or 1,563 depending on how you count ties) counties. Most of these are low-population/rural counties. So while Bahá'í is the largest non-Christian Tradition in the most counties, by population it's only the largest non-Christian Tradition in one state.

Parke county, Indiana shows up yellow on the first map and green (other) on the second. But looking at the statistics, we find that it got other on the map because the majority donmination was Amish undifferentiated. What I'm guessing it actually means is any of the various groups listed in the footnote from the data source page (though just a guess off checking a few counties):

"In an effort to better match the ASARB standards for adherents, a few religious bodies changed the way their adherents were reported in 2010, including the Catholic Church, Amish groups, Friends groups, Jewish groups, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Non-denominational Christian Churches, and the United Methodist Church. This change does not affect any of the data in the newly released 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study. In fact, the data for these groups are now more comparable to that of other bodies than it was in previous decadal reports."
posted by kigpig at 3:46 PM on June 5


It's rather striking how closely the Southern Baptist dominance is constrained by certain state lines. Do you suppose the neighbors put a line of salt along the border?
posted by localroger at 3:51 PM on June 5


Well that is bizarre, my dinky little Midwestern county is labeled buddhist. I never met any. There's no temple here or anything. At least I feel represented for once. Around here, I see a lot of those stupid Coexist bumper stickers, which appear to be distributed locally by Quakers. FFS it has a wiccan symbol on it but no buddhist symbol.

Parke county, Indiana shows up yellow on the first map and green (other) on the second. But looking at the statistics, we find that it got other on the map because the majority donmination was Amish undifferentiated. What I'm guessing it actually means is any of the various groups listed in the footnote from the data source page (though just a guess off checking a few counties)

The Amish are an offshoot of the Anabaptists. They are Christians. So are the Quakers.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:04 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I'm a little surprised they included LDS in Christian. I know it would have massively screwed with the results, but most of Christianity in the U.S. still doesn't accept Mormonism as a Christian denomination.

I was surprised by that as well.

But until I moved to Utah, I assumed the LDS Church was just another branch of Christianity - after all, the official name of the church has "Jesus Christ" in it.

Boy, was I wrong.
posted by JeffL at 4:28 PM on June 5


re: the one county that's not Christian. I think I vaguely remember a very little town in remote Montana or Idaho or someplace like that where a large group centered around a guru from India bought a ranch, moved in and, because the majority of the sect were American citizens, in the next election voted themselves into the local government and sort of took over the town. I was wondering if that could account for the mystery county. Does anyone remember where or what or who I'm thinking of?
posted by marsha56 at 4:29 PM on June 5


Growing up Jewish, I found the slicing-and-dicing of Christianity utterly inexplicable. The main "branches" of Judaism are (mostly) a matter of degree, rather than difference, in faith and practice. I don't think I had any real understanding, until my early 20s, of just how important the Protestant-vs-Catholic thing was to so many people. I mean, you're all Christians! You all follow Jesus Christ! It's right there in the name!

All of which is to say, speaking as someone entirely outside the debate without a dog in the fight, it wouldn't occur to me not to count Mormons as Christians.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:35 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


marsha56, that was the Rajneeshee Community in Eastern Oregon.
posted by blob at 4:37 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Thanks blob! That looks like a fascinating story. I had no idea of how it all shook out.
posted by marsha56 at 4:52 PM on June 5


more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians... But what about the rest of us?

The rest of you, yankee. The rest of you...

It's a fascinating map. I had no idea Judaism would prove to be second in so many places. It'd be really great to see how the numbers compare in other countries. I'm jealous.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:56 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


And then there are a number of buddhists who say that what they are is not a religion but a way of life...godless to begin with.
posted by Postroad at 4:57 PM on June 5


I give up. At least for now.

I went through the 144 counties with the least adherents, figuring that lower numbers would let something non-Christian be a majority more easily (like Loving, TX, with its whopping 82 participants, most of whom didn't pick a religion), as well as every county in AK, AL, AZ, CO, HI, ID, MT, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, OR, SC, and VT. I picked those states partially because some of them had a lower number of counties so I could cross off the whole state quickly (and feel accomplished), and partly because some of them showed up on this map with one or two weird little "other" counties I thought might be worth finding.

There are a few little "other" counties left to check-on, but my brain is done for now. I'm going outside to take a long walk.

(Edited to fix the link I forgot.)
posted by wending my way at 4:57 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


And then there are a number of buddhists who say that what they are is not a religion but a way of life...godless to begin with.

I sometimes hear that from ersatz buddhists. It's ridiculous. Buddhism is a religion.

I often tell christians that I am a heathen atheist. We have gods but we don't worship them because they are merely symbols for concepts. I personally am more of a pantheist. It makes no sense to pick out part of the univers and say that bit is god and this stuff over here isn't.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:12 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


It's rather striking how closely the Southern Baptist dominance is constrained by certain state lines. Do you suppose the neighbors put a line of salt along the border?

Nope. Baptists said in 1845 that you couldn't be ordained if you owned slaves. That didn't sit too well with Baptists in southern states.
posted by vorpal bunny at 5:32 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Though, come to think of it, I do see a lot of women, even here in corn-pone Muncie, wearing hijabs.

One of those little ironies is that conservative Muslims have a lot in common culturally with conservative Christians.

Anyway, one of the things that's in play here is that Islam in the US is heavily immigrant. Fully one-quarter of all U.S. Muslim adults (25%) have arrived in this country since 2000.
posted by dhartung at 5:42 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, lower ranked religions were correlated with higher probabilities of purchasing and wearing Nikes and eating applesauce.
posted by isopraxis at 5:43 PM on June 5


Judaism is the second-most populous religion in Missouri? Really? Alls that tells me is that Missouri is really really really Chrisitian.

I mean, how many Jews do you think there are in MO? 10,000 maybe?

Also, Tennessee. I mean, really. Tennessee.
posted by evil otto at 5:44 PM on June 5


Hmm, my off-the-cuff guess for the non-Christian plurality county was going to be Dearborn, MI but it appears to be in the same county as Detroit proper which makes that seem much less realistic.
posted by threeants at 6:50 PM on June 5


To people surprised that there are more Muslims than Jews in the US: there are over 114 times more Muslims than Jews in the world (that number actually seemed crazy lowball to me when I calculated it). And about 40% of the world's Jews already live in the US right now, while countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Somalia are all major origin countries for the US immigrant population (not that all Muslim-Americans are recent immigrants).
posted by threeants at 7:05 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Are they lumping in the African American Moslems with the Middle Eastern Moslems? Those are two very different populations...
posted by Renoroc at 7:11 PM on June 5


My new guess for the county (this is a fun game!) is an area dominated by Asian immigrants of diverse origins, such that two or three of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam are the top religions. If I recall correctly there are some suburban counties in California that have shifted dramatically in the last few decades to look demographically very much like this?
posted by threeants at 7:11 PM on June 5


Metafilter: that's what I was thinking too, but I haven't looked at the data.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:05 PM on June 5


Are they lumping in the African American Moslems with the Middle Eastern Moslems? Those are two very different populations...

Sure, but so are Salt Lake City Mormons and Boston Catholics.
posted by Justinian at 8:13 PM on June 5


Here's some data from the Jewish Virtual Library about the Jewish population by state in the US in 2012.

For example, 59,175 Jews in Missouri (1.0 percent of the population), 19,575 Jews in Tennessee (0.3 percent of the population).
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 8:23 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Maybe there's some county that's more or less owned by a particular religion? Like maybe wherever Scientology has its headquarters and/or dungeon?
posted by Flunkie at 8:37 PM on June 5


No Native belief system seems to have made the list, which surprises me.
posted by rosswald at 9:37 PM on June 5


Are they lumping in the African American Moslems with the Middle Eastern Moslems? Those are two very different populations...

Yes and no. Yes, Nation of Islam is pretty whackadoodle (moreso now than ever, since Farrakhan has recently embraced Dianetics and effectively turned the whole NOI into a front for Scientology), but many who joined up back in the Malcolm X days (including Malcolm X himself) realized what a crock it was fairly early on and converted to the real thing soon thereafter. There are plenty of non-NOI African-American Muslims.

No Native belief system seems to have made the list, which surprises me.


Why? The cultural (and actual) genocides were unfortunately really, really effective. The vast majority of Native people are Christian, and hardcore Christian at that. Even if they weren't, there just aren't enough Native people to even show up on a map like this.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:51 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Ya, it was a naive hope that there was some pocket, somewhere.
posted by rosswald at 10:11 PM on June 5


It's rather striking how closely the Southern Baptist dominance is constrained by certain state lines.

With one exception in Oregon, the northern limit of Southern Baptist majority counties is EXACTLY the Mason-Dixon line. Even when it runs halfway through a state!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:40 AM on June 6


Are they lumping in the African American Moslems with the Middle Eastern Moslems? Those are two very different populations...
posted by Renoroc at 10:11 AM on June 6 [+] [!]


African-American muslims make up between a quarter and third of the American muslim population and are overwhelmingly Sunni or "orthodox" muslims. The Nation of Islam is quite small by comparison.
posted by BinGregory at 12:47 AM on June 6


Are "Christian Churches and Churches of Christ" the crazy Pentecostals?
posted by PenDevil at 1:03 AM on June 6


partially - pentecostals aren't real well organized as a denomination and have many independent churches
posted by pyramid termite at 4:07 AM on June 6


The Arizona Hindus is the name of my new band.
posted by Decani at 4:15 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


With one exception in Oregon, the northern limit of Southern Baptist majority counties is EXACTLY the Mason-Dixon line. Even when it runs halfway through a state!

Yes, well, there was this one issue that kind of divided the Baptist Church...
posted by Atreides at 6:59 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


it wouldn't occur to me not to count Mormons as Christians.

The thing is, Mormons actually have an entirely different theology and a whole extra set of scripture and prophets. Part of the claim that they aren't Christian comes from fear and closed-mindedness, but it's not totally wrong.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:53 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I used the RCMS contact form to ask about the missing county, here's what they had to say:

The map the Washington Post used was one we sent about a week before our press conference in May 2012. In the week between sending this map and the official data release there were some corrections made to the data. (In fact, the Catholics, Methodists, and Southern Baptists have all made some corrections to their data since the official release. All affected datasets and maps on our website have been updated.) Unfortunately, there was a correction to the Muslim data after this map was sent to the Post. Christianity is in fact the largest single group in all 3,143 US counties and county equivalents. The county in question (Emporia city, Virginia) originally had Muslim as the dominant religion. Once the Muslim adherent totals were corrected it turned out that Christianity was still the largest group.


Kind of a disappointing solution! But sorta thrilling, in that using a website contact form actually got a response.
posted by troika at 7:54 AM on June 6 [14 favorites]


Kind of a disappointing solution! But sorta thrilling, in that using a website contact form actually got a response.

It doesn't count because it was based on bad data, but the outlier being one of the independent-city-counties of Virginia would not have been in my first thousand guesses.
posted by Copronymus at 7:58 AM on June 6


No kidding. I was putting off Virginia because there were so many counties and so many of them were solidly Southern Baptist I didn't consider it in the running. Cool. Thanks!
posted by wending my way at 8:07 AM on June 6


I would of liked to have lived in a world where the home of the Virginia Pork Festival was in a majority Muslim county.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:09 AM on June 6


I can say from the thousand something counties I've looked through, that to be as heavily Muslim as Emporia currently is is already quite an outlier, even if it's not the majority.
posted by wending my way at 8:12 AM on June 6


Fascinating! Thanks troika!
posted by Sophie1 at 8:37 AM on June 6


I can say from the thousand something counties I've looked through, that to be as heavily Muslim as Emporia currently is is already quite an outlier, even if it's not the majority.

Yeah, wow. That's a higher percentage of the population than the most Jewish county (Rockland, NY) or even just the city of Dearborn. I'd say it's likely to be the most non-Christian-religious county in the US.
posted by Copronymus at 8:38 AM on June 6


Here's some data from the Jewish Virtual Library about the Jewish population by state in the US in 2012.

The Dakotas always crack me up. Imagine trying to find a bagel.
posted by elizardbits at 11:05 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


The Dakotas always crack me up. Imagine trying to find a bagel.

I'm sure the Chabad in Fargo could hook you up.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on June 6


The Dakotas always crack me up. Imagine trying to find a bagel.

I grew up loving bagels because of Bodo's, a non-Jewish bagel bakery in my home town. I got my future wife hooked on them while she was in Virginia before we drove back to Arkansas for school. I have but only once encountered bigotry in the Natural State (granted, I'm a male, Caucasian between the ages of 18 and 40), and it had to do with an attempt to find a bagel for my wife.

We were driving back on I-40 and not very long ago crossed the Mississippi and were beginning the trek across Arkansas. We pulled off at Forrest City and turned into the first gas station. I walked in and up to the man behind the counter and asked, "Excuse me, but do you know where I can find some bagels around here?"

The fellow's face flickered with slight bewilderment and he responded, "Bagels? Only Jews eat bagels." This was followed by an awkward silence as I wondered if he was expecting me to suddenly exclaim "Mazel tov!" and confess to being Jewish or if he was just sharing some friendly neighborhood bigotry.

I later recounted the story to my Arkansas neighbors and they simply shook their head, "Forrest City, it's a dump!"

So friendly reminder, just keep driving if you're on I-40 and see the exit. They don't have bagels there. They also have visible swarms of mosquitoes, but that's another story.
posted by Atreides at 1:29 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


@PenDevil: Christian Churches are Restorationist. To everyone asking to include the non-religious, that's like including small children who babble in the linguistic map: that's not what's being measured. If you lack a religious adherence, then why include you in a map of religious adherents? And—as always—there are plenty of religious atheists and non-religious theists, so asking that there be some catch-all like that would be worse data.
posted by koavf at 8:54 AM on June 7


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