Minnesota less religious than 30 years ago, but still one of the most religious states

Minnesota is comparatively religious, but less so than it was 30 years ago.
Minnesota is comparatively religious, but less so than it was 30 years ago.
Image by Tatiana Craine

New data compiled and released by the Association of Religious Data Archives indicates that Minnesota is one of the most religious states in the country, with 56.3 percent of residents claiming some sort of religious affiliation.

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That percentage is ninth-highest in the nation. The most religious state is Utah, with 79.1 percent of residents claiming affiliation, followed by second-place North Dakota at 67.1 percent. Maine, with only 27.6 percent of residents claiming an affiliation, is the least-religious state.

In 2010, 22 percent of Minnesotans identified as Catholic, compared to 19 percent nationally. But our state is less evangelical Protestant than the norm -- 14 percent here compared to 16 percent across all 50 states. The data shows Christianity to be the dominant religion  throughout the Midwest, as the region has comparatively few adherents of Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Judaism, and other major non-Christian religions.

But the data, compiled once each decade by the ARDA, also shows that the percentage of Minnesotans claiming a religious affiliation fell significantly between 1980 and 2010, from 65.1 percent to 56.3 percent. By contrast, for the country as a whole, the rate fell from 50 percent to 48.8 percent over the same 30-year period.

Nonetheless, the fact that Christianity remains relatively strong both here and in North Dakota prompted Rev. Paul Nynas, executive pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Fargo, to boast to Forum Communications that "The Bible Belt isn't just in the South."

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