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The Second-Largest Religion By State

Religion Map

Reid Wilson takes a look at the map above (click to enlarge), which shows the second-largest religion in each state:

In the Western U.S., Buddhists represent the largest non-Christian religious bloc in most states. In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity. Hindus come in second place in Arizona and Delaware, and there are more practitioners of the Baha’i faith in South Carolina than anyone else.

Not entirely surprising, I suppose. Although one wonders how South Carolina became an outpost for the Bahai’.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    Although one wonders how South Carolina became an outpost for the Bahai’.

    Baha’i have been active in South Carolina for over 100 years:

    http://www.pluralism.org/profiles/view/72389

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I think there are two problems with the map. First, I strongly suspect that “no affiliation/atheist” is the second largest religion in many if not most states.

    Second, it distorts reality. I don’t know about the other states and I don’t have the data for 2010 readily at hand but in 2000 in Illinois there were about 3.5 million Catholics, considerably more than the sum of all other religions and denominations. There were about 360,000 Methodists and about 350,000 Jews. In other words, not only were Christians the most numerous religious adherents, the second largest denomination out-numbered the second largest religion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  3. PD Shaw says:

    I would have thought Mormonism would have been the second largest religion in places like Utah. Oh, no he didn’t go there, did he?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I drink religiously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Matt Bernius says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    Correct on all point (though I’d separate out “no affiliation” from “atheist”).

    @PD Shaw:
    #OhNoYouDidGoThere!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. James Pearce says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    First, I strongly suspect that “no affiliation/atheist” is the second largest religion in many if not most states.

    Well, to be fair, that’s probably the second largest religious affiliation, but “no affiliation/atheist” is not actually a religion.

    I do agree, though, that the map distorts reality. It doesn’t show a significant “second” so much as it shows the complete dominance of the primary faith.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. PD Shaw says:

    I think any potential distortion in the map is it doesn’t reflect important distinctions for comparing the states. For example, the Muslim population of Michigan and Louisiana are not comparable, as Michigan has one of the largest Muslim communities in the country. Also, Oregon and Oklahoma are very different because Oregon is the one of the least religious states in the country and Oklahoma is in the Bible belt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I would have thought Mormonism would have been the second largest religion in places like Utah.

    Actually, I would have thought Christianity would be the second largest religion in Utah, with Mormonism being the first largest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  9. PD Shaw says:

    @Rafer Janders: touché

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    Buddhism in it’s pure form is not really a religion because it requires no deity but a way of looking at the world. It’s teachings are easily incorporated into other religions however which it has been.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Pinky says:

    Baha’i really surprised me.

    I would have expected Hinduism to beat out Islam more often, but I was thinking about it wrong – maybe because we’ve had some maps about immigration recently. I hadn’t taken into account the native African-American Muslims.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. al-Ameda says:

    Arizona, Hinduism second?
    Now THAT surprised me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. PJ says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Although one wonders how South Carolina became an outpost for the Bahai’.

    I wouldn’t call 0.7% an outpost for the Bahá’í Faith…

    One should always take a look at the data used instead of a simple map.

    In South Carolina, there are 16 varieties of Christianity with a larger number of adherents than the Bahá’í Faith. Those 16 varieties have a total of 2,245,249 adherents, the Bahá’í Faith has 17,559…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. ernieyeball says:

    At least one dictionary states Buddhism as an example of religion.
    Per Dictionary.com

    religion (noun)
    1.a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2.a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    3.the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
    4.the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
    5.the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

    Some claim secular humanism is a religion (see the Case Law section in the Secular humanism entry on WikiP) despite the word secular is defined: denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis in my New Oxford American Dictionary.
    Go figure…
    I’m still undecided about the Green religion. Should I worship Mother Gaia or Father Gelt?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkRIbUT6u7Q

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. PJ says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Arizona, Hinduism second?
    Now THAT surprised me.

    1.4% gets you the silver in Arizona…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. PJ says:

    Also, about the data:

    Congregational adherents include all full members, their children, and others who regularly attend services. The 2010 reports contain incomplete counts of congregations and adherents belonging to the eight largest historically African-American denominations. These denominations are not included in the 2000 reports and are largely missing from the 1990 and 1980 reports.

    So, for example, South Carolina has 2,245,249 adherents listed and 2,211,921 unclaimed….
    And the number Muslim adherents are estimated rather than reported…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @PJ:

    @al-Ameda:
    Arizona, Hinduism second?
    Now THAT surprised me.

    1.4% gets you the silver in Arizona…

    I would have guessed Mormonism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  18. ernieyeball says:

    @PJ: I wouldn’t call 0.7% an outpost for the Bahá’í Faith…

    Why not?

    outpost |ˈoutˌpōst| (noun)
    1 a small military camp or position at some distance from the main force, used esp. as a guard against surprise attack.
    2 a remote part of a country or empire.
    something regarded as an isolated or remote branch of something: the community is the last outpost of civilization in the far north.
    New Oxford American Dictionary

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  19. Pinky says:

    @PJ: I just reviewed the data by state. Catholicism is #1 in most states. Southern Baptists are #1 where you’d expect – and also, this was interesting, Missouri and Oklahoma. This might affect our recent “what states do you think of as Southern” debate. (Catholicism still wins in Louisiana – but I wonder, is that “still” or “again”?) Mormonism was #1 in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Poor jilted Methodism: a top contender regularly in the South, but only #1 in WV.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. DrDaveT says:

    Clearly, “worship of Mammon” was not a survey option.

    I agree with everyone who is pointing out that you need to careful in drawing any inferences from which tiny minority is the largest tiny minority in each state. One thing you might be able to get from this, though, is “what flavor of paranoia might be driving the legislative agenda of the minority in various states?”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Same with me. Unless this poll is lumping Mormonism in with Christianity, which I think is a mistake (though a very common one, and one that is actively encouraged by the Mormon church), Mormonism should really be the second most popular religion in Nevada, Arizona and Idaho.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “what flavor of paranoia might be driving the legislative agenda of the minority in various states?”.

    D’oh, I meant majority there. Though I guess both are interesting…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Pinky says:

    It looks like the number of Mormons in the US is about 6 million, roughly equal to the number of Jews, and maybe equal to the number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Baha’is combined.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. gVOR08 says:

    @Dave Schuler: Going down a couple links, yes, “no affiliation” (15.6% nationally) would have been second almost everywhere had they scored us as a “religion”. Of course it’s true that we’re not a religion, and not at all uniform, but still, seems like we should be accounted for somehow.

    These things always make me curious about one point that no one ever seems to bring up. How many “Muslims” are or derive from immigrants and how many are home grown Black Muslims?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Pinky says:

    @gVOR08: The point that no one ever brings up?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Matt Bernius says:

    @gVOR08 & @Pinky:
    Relatively recent stats on American Muslims via Pew:
    http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/section-1-a-demographic-portrait-of-muslim-americans/

    Among native born Muslims, demographics break out as such:
    40% – Af American
    21% – Mixed race
    18% – White
    10% – Asian
    10% – Hispanic

    Among Foreign Born, American Muslims, the Black/White numbers are the near opposites.

    As to Native-Born vs Immigrants, here’s what Pew found:

    Muslim Americans are a heavily immigrant population. Of those age 18 and older, more than six-in-ten (63%) were born abroad, and many are relative newcomers to the United States: Fully one-quarter of all U.S. Muslim adults (25%) have arrived in this country since 2000.
    [...]
    More than a third of Muslim American adults (37%) were born in the United States. But more than three-quarters are either first-generation immigrants (63%) or second-generation Americans (15%), with one or both parents born outside of the country. About one-in-five (22%) belong to a third, fourth or a later generation of Americans.

    Foreign-born Muslim Americans are very diverse in their origins. They have come from at least 77 different countries, with no single country accounting for more than one-in-six Muslim immigrants.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. ernieyeball says:

    @DrDaveT: Clearly, “worship of Mammon” was not a survey option.

    Tell that to these guys…
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/19/best-paid-pastors_n_1214043.html?ncid=dynaldusaolp00000255&ref=religion

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Dave Schuler says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Something of which many Americans aren’t aware is how the Arab-American population has changed over the years. We’ve had a sizeable Arab-American population for some time but, unlike the experience in Europe, most of the Arabs who here until relatively recently were Christians.

    For a while I attended a Maronite church (Lebanese Uniate Roman Catholic). They conducted their services in Aramaic, had a slightly different liturgy, and had a married clergy. They had great church picnics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. DrDaveT says:

    @PJ:

    One should always take a look at the data

    Words of wisdom, to be sure.

    Here’s one that jumped out at me in the data: whoever did the categorizations decided to segregate (ahem) not just by denomination/affiliation, but also by “Tradition”. Thus, “Black Protestant” is a separate Tradition from “Evangelical Protestant”. That’s about 250,000 mostly evangelical protestants who aren’t classified as “Evangelical Protestant”.

    In the various groupings by Family and Tradition, there are quite a few other weirdnesses. I think the Churches of Christ would be pretty stunned to learn that they are Baptists of any sort, and the Conservative Mennonites would be equally surprised to be labeled Evangelical.

    (Like both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, I am proudly descended from men and women of the Seventh Day Baptist schism of 1671, who were too weird for the Rhode Island baptists of Roger Williams, who were too weird for the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, who were too weird for Europe.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Pinky says:

    @Dave Schuler: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Arabic Christian numbers increasing again, post-Arab Spring.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    I think that the more important element of the survey is, as other people have noted, this is essentially defining the “second largest” as largest non-Christian religion among groups that practice their religion by joining in organized ritual–which leaves out atheist, non-affiliated, agnostic, flying spaghetti monster, etc. And while I might agree that Mormonism isn’t a “Christian” religion, one would be hard pressed to make that assertion based on the official name of the sect.

    More interesting to me on these issues is that some in anthropology and sociology define Jehovah’s Witness and Christian Scientist as “Christian” religions based on the history of it being offshoots from the rise of American Evangelicalism.

    But, the most interesting thing is the idea (that we see a little in the thread–a lot in American Christendom) that any denomination that isn’t my denomination also probably shouldn’t be considered “Christian.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  32. Rafer Janders says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    And while I might agree that Mormonism isn’t a “Christian” religion, one would be hard pressed to make that assertion based on the official name of the sect.

    The German Democratic Republic was neither democratic nor a republic.

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  33. Tyrell says:

    @Dave Schuler: A recent news article here (Saturday papers here always have articles about religion and churches) was about a study of the “nones” group. It seems they do believe in God and want to learn more about God, but do not prefer the church as it is today: heavy on bureaucracy, too judgmental, and too wishy-washy on beliefs: they say what they mean and mean what they say . Many of them are finding a church home at an independent church, many of which do not keep formal records and membership numbers.

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