Map of Religious Diversity in America

Yet another interesting map from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. This gets at how varied, or diverse, religious affiliation is in different regions of the country. As you can see, the areas with the most diversity also tend to have the lowest rates of adherence, which would seem counter-intuitive–at least from the perspective of Rational Choice theory. One might expect that more offerings, i.e., more types of religions, would promote greater involvement in religion.

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  • Pat Hastings

    I think you mean to say “the areas with the *most* diversity also tend to have the lowest rates of adherence…” At least, that’s what the picture seems to suggest and what would be counterintuitive from the religious marketplace perspective.

    • Bradley Wright

      Yes, thank you Pat!

  • Mike Hickerson

    It could be that the groupings are too broad for the level of “felt” diversity to appear on the map. If I’m reading the legend correctly, teligious adherants are grouped by fairly broad groupings – e.g. Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox. In many areas of the South, there may not be many Catholics or Orthodox, but the “competition” between different Protestant groups can be quite intense.

  • John

    I agree with Mike, church competition in the South is intense, but theological differences may be small.

    Also, I think race is playing some role in the map of religious diversity. For example, while there are plenty of Asian Christians, many Asians are still associated with Buddhism or other Eastern traditions when they migrate to the US. Same goes for other immigrants. So an area that attracts the most varied types of immigrants, such as California or New York City would have the most religious diversity by default even if the area is not active in religious participation.