Iowa 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…]