Faith

Study: What a Community's 'Churched' Status Says About How They Voted in 2016

The electoral college map of Donald Trump's win in November 2016 (Shutterstock)

While we’re all one nation, each region has its own identity. New York is very different from Chicago and both are vastly different from Atlanta. Part of any community’s identity also covers how the residents in that town view faith.

Barna recently took a look at cities to determine where they stood in relation to church attendance. They set three categories: “Churched” refers to those who currently attend regular services. “Unchurched” are those who haven’t attended a service in the last six months, while “dechurched” refers to those who used to attend services but haven’t in the last six months.

What they found was interesting. The Christian Post reported:

According to the data, the two most “churched” areas in the United States are Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Salt Lake City, Utah, which are both 59 percent churched. The areas of Augusta-Aiken, Georgia, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ranked as the third and fourth most churched cities, being 57 percent churched. The area of Birmingham-Anniston-Tuscaloosa, Alabama, ranked as the fifth most churched area at 56 percent churched.

Topping Barna’s list of “unchurched” cities is the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area in California at 60 percent unchurched. Two areas in Nevada — Reno (59 percent) and Las Vegas (55 percent) — ranked as the second and fifth most unchurched cities in the U.S. Meanwhile, two Massachusetts areas — Springfield-Holyoke (57 percent) and Boston, Massachusetts-Manchester, New Hampshire (56 percent) — were ranked as the third and fourth most unchurched areas in the country.

Three of the areas that ranked in the top five for most unchurched cities also ranked in the top five most “dechurched” cities.

Just as it ranked as the nation’s top unchurched city, the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area ranked as America’s most dechurched. According to Barna, the metropolitan area is 47 percent dechurched.

The Boston-Manchester area (46 percent) is the second most dechurched area in the U.S., followed by the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington (45 percent) and the Portland-Auburn area of Maine (45 percent). Springfield-Holyoke is the fifth most dechurched area in the U.S.

It’s interesting to note that of the most churched communities, only one was outside of the South and all are in what are considered red states. It’s not exactly surprising, though. The South has long been associated with having large numbers of faithful Christians. Salt Lake City likewise does, mostly due to its role as the center of the Mormon Church.

Conversely, there’s little surprise that the dechurched and unchurched communities lie in blue states. Interestingly, despite Nevada going to Hillary Clinton in 2016, she actually only took two counties: Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which is home to Reno.

With many Christians throughout the nation siding with the right on most political issues, this isn’t a stunning revelation by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it’s interesting to see the numbers back that up.