Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Dakotas: right in the middle of America when it comes to religion

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released its latest survey results on Dec. 21.

The national percentage of respondents who say that "religion is very important in their lives" is 56%... and that's right where North and South Dakota (lumped together, of course) come in.

The survey used three other measures:
  • + Weekly attendance at religious services: 39% National avg.; 42% Dakotas
  • - Pray at least once a day: 58% National avg.; 56% Dakotas
  • + Believe in God with absolute certainty: 71% National avg.; 79% Dakotas

The higher belief in God figure might be influenced by Native Americans, many of whom believe in God but who value ceremonies more for key occassions than as a weekly event.

h/t Minnesota neighbor Anglicat.


The Archer of the Forest said...

I see my home state is in the top 5. Can't say as I am surprised.

TLF+ said...

Yep, the Southern states tend to be higher, the NE and NW lower, and the middle in the middle, with many anomalies of course.

I once served a church where the socioeconmics followed the countours of local geography - public housing and urban working poor down the hill, middle income professionals on the slope, and affluent who-knows-what-they-do-for-all-that-money atop the hill.

Scott said...

These pew surveys provide a huge amount of data. I just wonder, what good is/are any denominations making of all of this information? Seems like the survey points to a huge potential.

TLF+ said...

Good question, Scott. Go to Anglicat's link and you will see that Minnesota scores high for church attendance but pretty low for the other measures - in many places we are like the Roman Empire, with a religion in which few believe but with high devotion to ritual observance for the perceived good of the social order.

People who are serious about the Christian faith are gravitating toward larger churches where there are plenty of resources and opportunities or, alternatively, to smaller house-church type fellowships that have plenty of intimacy. In both settings, there are means to explore the faith in depth and apply it in a supportive fellowship.

A few days ago, I posted on the small church - that's America's dinosaur right now. It is generally made up of a diminishing circle of members, comfy w/ one another and inwardly focused, but increasingly unable to afford a Pastor, building, and all the other traditional resources and unwilling to look at the changes needed to reach new people for Christ.

In that context, the rising percentage of "no religion" is good news - people are thinking things through and nominalism is less and less attractive. Those who seek Christ will have to be hardier and more sincere disciples. Really convicting and humiliating for a mainline pastor like myself.