A recent story on HuffingtonPost.com looked at the most and least Christian states. The website showed studies from two groups, and Louisiana ranked fourth in each.
Using numbers from the recently released “2010 U.S. Religious Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study,” the top five are:
1. UTAH: 78,438 Christians per 100,000 people.
2. NORTH DAKOTA: 66,950 per 100,000 people.
3. ALABAMA: 62,467 per 100,000 people.
4. LOUISIANA: 59,598 per 100,000 people.
5. OKLAHOMA: 58,598 per 100,000 people.
Using numbers from Gallup, the top six are:
1. MISSISSIPPI: 59 percent of the population.
2. UTAH: 57 percent of the population.
3. ALABAMA: 56 percent of the population.
4. LOUISIANA: 54 percent of the population.
5. ARKANSAS: 54 percent of the population.
6. SOUTH CAROLINA: 54 percent of the population.
Study the numbers
The 2010 census mentioned above is done every 10 years by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies and dates to 1952.
For information about the survey and the group that compiled it, visit http://rcms2010.org/.
Its data is available online at The Association of Religion Data Archives (http://www.thearda.com/).
The ARDA site offers many different ways to access information from several sources.
Writers discuss data trends. Religion quizzes are available. Quiz topics include pet ministries and the church in rural America.
In another place, enter your age, gender and education and then answer some belief questions to compare yourself to the rest of the U.S. population. For instance, I learned that unlike me, most women my age who have graduated from college, attend church and read the Bible regularly have not witnessed a person speaking in tongues.
The ARDA site also allows searching of the 2010 U.S. Religious Census in several ways.
The first is to type in your ZIP code or town and state. For East Baton Rouge Parish, the report shows that in 2010, 67.5 percent of the residents are adherents of one of the religious bodies that participated in the study.
Of those, 120,949 people were evangelical Protestant, 97,904 were Catholic, 35,272 were black Protestant, 32,765 were mainline Protestant, 457 were Orthodox, and 9,604 practiced religions in other groups. That left 143,220 people who were not represented in the study.
For other information, click on Congregational QuickStats to search the data by topics, such as clergy, worship services or size of group.
While the census does have some shortcomings — for instance, black congregations and some smaller religions are underrepresented — it does give an interesting look at the local area.
Send ideas to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.