Why is Cedar Rapids so Godless?

Cedar_Rapids_skylineIowa defines the American heartland, with its staunch Midwestern values and rural American virtues.  Though its prairie populism sometimes elects Democrats, today its elected officials are most Republican.  The candidate favored by Christian conservatives usually wins the Iowa caucuses.

A recent study ranked Iowa as the 19th most religious state in the union.  Except for one mysterious outlier:  Cedar Rapids.

The second largest city in the state, with a population of only 130,000, is an island of secularism in an ocean of religion.  By virtually ever standard–Bible reading, Bible believing, church attendance–Cedar Rapids scores closer to the big coastal cities than any of its midwestern neighbors.  Nearly half (47%) of its adults are “nones,” holding to no particular religion at all.  That’s the same percentage as Los Angeles county.

So why is this?  People are trying to figure that out.  One perhaps counter-intuitive reason:  Cedar Rapids is overwhelmingly white.  So are the vast majority of “nones.” Black people, in contrast, score extremely high on the religious indexes (Bible reading, Bible believing, church attendance).  A large black population tends to increase a city’s religion score, while a large white population decreases it.  At least that’s what the post says, quoted and linked after the jump, which also lists other possible factors.

Still, the mystery remains.  Iowans, can any of you explain? [Read more…]

Britain now has more “nones” than Christians

Great Britain now has more people who say they have “no religion” (48%) than say they are Christians (44%).  (Other religions such as Islam constitute 8%.)  And this happened fast.  Fifteen years ago, around 75% said they were Christians.  Five years ago, only 25% said they have “no religion.”  After the jump, a story about this from the London Spectator.

For a long time, most Brits still considered themselves Christians, while hardly ever attending services.  Staying Christian requires going to church.  Then again, when the churches themselves, as a whole, become so theologically liberal they stop teaching anything that could be recognized as Christianity, then of course Christianity will, apart from divine intervention, be extinguished.

Could such a religious shift happen in the USA?  Or is it already happening? [Read more…]

Bernie Sanders is a “none”

Bernie Sanders finally said where he stood on religion.  He is Jewish by birth, but, more precisely, he is a “none,” claiming no involvement with organized religion.  He told an interviewer that he believes in God in the sense that “all of us are connected.” [Read more…]

“Nones” are fine with denominations

Contrary to the common assumption, “Nones”–people with no religious preference–have positive feelings about most Christian denominations and denominations in general, according to a LifeWay study.

The most favorable impressions among non-believers are Baptists and Catholics.  Baptists scored 61% favorable, 19% unfavorable, and 20% not familiar enough to have an opinion.  Catholics scored 57% favorable, 23% unfavorable, and 20% not familiar enough.

Lutherans (46% favorable, 22% unfavorable, 33% not familiar enough) were down on the list, third from the bottom, with Pentecostals (38% favorable, 27% unfavorable, 35% not familiar enough) coming in with the lowest numbers.

See details after the jump and go to the link for another interesting category:  “not for me.” [Read more…]

Christian “decline” is just Nominals becoming Nones

The headlines about the Pew Report, including at this blog, say that Christianity is declining in America.  But if you look closer, says Christianity Today’s Ed Stetzer, the data shows that the decline is in “nominal Christians”–those in name only–who are becoming open about their unbelief and calling themselves “Nones.”  The number of “convictional” Christians–those who really believe all that stuff–is holding steady.  See his analysis of the data after the jump.

There was a time when church membership was a cultural advantage.  Belonging to a church was good for business and a sign of fitting into the community.  So church membership rolls were filled with “pewsitters” or “Christmas/Easter” members.  Today, belonging to a church can be a cultural disadvantage.  So there is no reason for nominal Christians to bother with it.

This exit of the nominals can be a good thing, on one level, but I want to make two important caveats. [Read more…]

Why the percentage of the non-religious is declining

We blogged about the Pew study of global religious affiliation, which included the rather surprising fact that the percentage of “nones,” or people with no religion, is declining world-wide.  An article at the Pew website explains why. [Read more…]