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Church a way of life in Dixie

The Washington Times posted a story this morning I found very interesting: Church a way of life in Dixie, which reports on a recent Gallup Poll about church-going in America:
The South contains eight of the top 10 states with the most frequent churchgoers in the nation, according to a Gallup Poll analysis of more than 68,000 interviews conducted in the past two years….

With 58 percent saying they attend religious services once a week or almost every week, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina residents are tied in first place -- followed by Mississippi at 57 percent, Arkansas and Utah tied at 55 percent, North Carolina and Nebraska tied at 53 percent and Tennessee and Georgia tied at 52 percent.

The national average is 42 percent.
The article then delves into how church-going is part of the culture in the South—to which I can whole-heartedly attest. Moving from California to the Deep South was a definate culture shock. But, as I’ve told many of my friends in both places, I quickly found that the my burden to tell others about the freedom and peace I found in Jesus was to be carried here as well. While many in California may never have stepped foot in a church or really heard Jesus’ Good News, many here in the South have heard it most of their lives but still don’t grasp what it is. (In fact, two of my friends wrote an absolutely brilliant play that included this, which was performed—very powerfully, I might add—during our contemporary worship services on this past Easter Sunday.) So the struggle we face in the South is basically the same faced by Christians on the West Coast: communicating the new, abundant life Jesus offers in a way that is fresh, relevant and reaches past the preconceptions that keep people from hearing and embracing it.

The article goes on to talk about the rest of the nation:

Sunday morning may not be so popular up North, though.

"At the other end of the spectrum, the data makes it clear that reported church attendance is lowest in New England states -- New Hampshire (24 percent), Vermont (24 percent), Rhode Island (28 percent), Massachusetts (31 percent) and Maine (31 percent.) The only slight exception is the New England state of Connecticut (37 percent)," [Gallup analyst Frank] Newport added.

Nebraska led the Midwestern states in weekly or almost weekly church attendance (53 percent). Among the most populous states, Texas led at 49 percent, followed by Illinois (42 percent), Florida (39 percent), New York (33 percent) and California (32 percent). The District of Columbia stood at 33 percent.

A small minority of Americans simply don't go to church. Overall, only 16 percent of the respondents nationwide said they "never" attend.

The analysis found that 31 percent said they went to church once a week, 11 percent almost every week, 13 percent once a month, 27 percent "seldom" and 2 percent did not answer the question.

The poll of 68,031 adults was conducted from January 2004 through March 2006 in the 48 contiguous states, with a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point.

So, there you go. As a sidenote, if the emerging movement talk is correct, we may see these numbers shift even more, but for different reasons. It could be the beginning of a brave new world, folks.

(Image: Wikipedia)