The second-largest religion in each state

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about  2 percent as Mormon.

But what about the rest of us? 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.

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All these data come from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which conducts a U.S. Religion Census every 10 years. Here’s what their map of the second-most-practiced religions looks like:


Source: 2010 U.S. Religion Census, sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies

And here’s the county-level map of second-largest religions after Christianity:


Source: 2010 U.S. Religion Census, sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies

The data the ASARB release every 10 years are revealing: Adherents to any religious faith — that is, those who actually attend religious services — make up more than half the population in 28 states. Utah has the highest percentage of adherents, at 79 percent of the population, while just over a quarter of Mainers are adherents. North Dakota, Alabama and Louisiana are near the top of the list, while Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, Nevada and Washington sit near the bottom of the rankings.

Here’s their map of the largest religious denomination by county:


Source: 2010 U.S. Religion Census, sponsored by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies

Catholicism dominates the Northeast and the Southwest, and Southern Baptists have a strong foothold in the South. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dominates Utah and surrounding counties in Idaho, Wyoming and parts of Nevada. Lutheranism has a strong following in Minnesota and the Dakotas, while Methodists make their presence felt in parts of West Virginia, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.

RELATED: 25 maps and charts that help explain America today 

 

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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