July 27, 2014

Sunday Soundbite: What are the runner-up religions of America?

Without a doubt, America identifies primarily as Christian. 77% of Americans in a 2012 Gallup poll identified as some type of Christian--three out of four. That's a whopping majority right there.

But what about the other religions of our nation?

A recent work by the Associate of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies shines some light on that question. Here's a map:


For a larger version, visit this link.

I found the NPR analysis of the "runner up religion" in my own state fascinating. We're there in the green. Here's what they had to say, for your Sunday Soundbite:
Faith And Race In South Carolina 
Louis E. Venters, an assistant professor of history at Francis Marion University and author of the forthcoming book Most Great Reconstruction: The Baha'i Faith and Interracial Community in Jim Crow South Carolina, makes an observation similar to Hillary's. "To put the map in context," he says, "let's acknowledge at the outset that it doesn't take very much to be the second-largest religion in South Carolina. It is a solidly Christian, and particularly Protestant, state, and all the minority religions combined comprise only a tiny fraction of the population." 
But, Louis says, "whatever the size of the Baha'i faith in South Carolina — relative to other minority religions — I think its history is quite compelling and worthy of attention in itself." 
From as far back as 1910, Louis says, "the Baha'is were virtually unique in Jim Crow South Carolina in attempting to create an interracial religious community — for which they suffered harassment and violence." 
By the 1960s, he says, there were local Baha'i organizations in many towns in north Georgia and South Carolina. The tradition spread. "The Louis G. Gregory Baha'i Institute in Georgetown County, founded in 1972 and named for the black Charleston native who first brought the religion to South Carolina," says Louis, "became a cultural and educational hub for the South Carolina movement. And Radio Baha'i WLGI — broadcasting from the same site beginning in 1985 — has brought its teachings and ethos to a large section of the state." 
He adds: "Although the map may have come as a surprise to those who aren't familiar with this history, to me — and I think to most Baha'is in South Carolina — it makes pretty good sense. And if it brings to light one of the South's oldest and most successful experiments in interracial community-building, so much the better."
 Interesting, right?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this picture of the religious freedom of our nation. Have a happy Sunday!

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