The Godless West
USA Today has a great map up where you can track the religious affiliation of Americans by state (hat tip to Michael for sending me the link). It’s interesting to see the geographical differences, Lutherans in the North, Baptists in the South, Catholics in the Northeast and a bunch of non-religious folks out West. What I found most interesting though is that no-religion places in the top three in just about every state while Evangelicals, if they rank at all, top out at 2%. How is it that such a small minority has so much influence on our government?
No-religion tops the list in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho (I know, that one surprised me too) and came in a close second in, California, Montana and Nevada. Out west it seems that God is losing ground, most notably in Washington state, perhaps that’s why I feel so at home out here. No-religion also came in second in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, North Carolina (tied for second actually) and New Jersey, and ranks third in Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Delaware and Maryland. The least amount of people that consider themselves non-religious are found in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. Shocking, I know.
I guess none of this is really surprising but it does put the marginalization of non-believers into perspective. Sure, we only make up 10% of the population of this country, but unless you lump all the religions together, Christians and Evangelicals combined make up even less of the population according to this map. No wonder the Religious Right is constantly trying to pull Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists under their “Christian” umbrella, it boosts their numbers significantly.
So what do I take away from looking at this map? That the Religious Right is in trouble. I mean really, Ralph Reed, the face of the Christian Coalition, couldn’t even win a Republican Primary race in Georgia last week! And while The Rapturites get a lot of play from traditional media, the truth is that they are far less politically significant than those of us that don’t subscribe to any religion at all. The power of the Religious Right is nothing but hype purchased with large sums of money that was raised from delusional theocrats, but now that their money is running out, even the ill-gotten-Abramoff-tainted-swindled-from-Native-American-tribe money, their ability to purchase political influence will dwindle as well. Thank goodness for that.
Now if we can just get rid of the product of their bloated influence, the idiot in the White House, America can start to re-build its reputation as a nation of thinking people. Yes, we have a long way to go, but I’m trying to believe it’s still possible.