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Washington Remains One of America's Least Religious States

An updated Gallup survey results put Washington in a tie for eighth-place among most "unchurched" states.

Washington remains one of our country's least-religious states, according to updated results from an annual Gallup survey.

Just 31 percent of Washingtonians identified as "very religious" in 2012, putting Washington in a five-way tie for eighth least-religious state in the union. As in previous years, Mississippi topped the rankings for "most religious" and Vermont remained the most unchurched state.

Overall, 40 percent of Americans identified as very religious and 31 percent said they were nonreligious; the remaining 29 percent identified as moderately religious. Totals for all three categories were within one percentage point of results from the previous year. 

In 2011, 30 percent of Washingtonians said they were very relgious.

For complete results and survey methods, visit the Gallup website.

Are you suprised by Washington's ranking? Tell us in the comments section.

Joe M February 15, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Speaking for myself, I don't claim to be very smart - just smart enough to be wary of those who claim to speak on God's behalf. Much of the evil in the world is committed by those who claim to speak for God, and their followers.
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA February 15, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Example of Interesting discussion: "God and I are on good terms"-
S. E. February 15, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Well, I carry on one-sided conversations with him pretty often, and try my best to be kind to other people and believe that he is there. We're on as good terms as we have ever been. ;)
Linda McDonald Witt February 15, 2013 at 06:06 PM
I found all these comments really interesting. I am a Christian and a regular church attender in Woodinville, apparently one of the small minority. Many of the comments posted I think are evidence that so many of the Christian churches today and in the last 20 years have failed the people because the churches are losing the focus of the purpose of the church, worshiping God, preaching his word, and serving of the sacraments. Many of today's churches are focused instead on being culturally relevant through hip music, entertaining sermons and youth groups with fun activities to attract attenders and for some churches pursuing political causes. None of that is prescribed in the Bible for the church. The message of Christ is very simple and explained very well in the Bible. Anytime man tries to add to the message, it simply takes away from the truth of the Gospel and people will ultimately reject the message. Only through faith in Christ alone can we have peace and salvation.
Generation Xcellent February 15, 2013 at 07:06 PM
I've been aware of this statistic for some time, but I'm always intrigued by the comments about the seeming incompatibility of science and religion. One would think the more scientific one's orientation is, the less religious that person would be. However, here's just a short list of great scientists in history who believed in God, not to mention the many current scientists who believe: Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Michael Faraday, Gregor Mendel, William Thomson, Kelvin Max Planck, Albert Einstein.
Edward A. February 15, 2013 at 07:54 PM
I wonder why most of the scientists you listed died before the end of the 17th century (7 of 13)? I think the reason is that modern science was just forming then, and God was necessary to explain many phenomena. This is much less true today, now that we have evolution, atomic theory, modern geology, etc. Interestingly, the two scientists on your list who died most recently, Planck and Einstein, should not be on your list. Planck was likely a deist, and definitely didn't believe in the Christian God, and Einstein expressly denied belief in the personal God described in the Abrahamic religions. Among eminent scientists today, unbelief is far more common than belief. If you look at the elite of the NAS, only 7% believe in God. More than 70% are outright atheists, which is almost the opposite of the general population. Source (there are many others): http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html Finally, this is an argument from authority, and thus not very convincing. But it is even less convincing that it sounds like something someone else compiled, and, indeed, it is identical to this list: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/sciencefaith.html
Linda McDonald Witt February 15, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Check out the Discovery Institute for some great work done locally by both believers in God and scientists. http://www.discovery.org/
Edward A. February 15, 2013 at 08:09 PM
I am curious why you think the message is so simple. Virtually every section of the Bible has had multiple interpretations in the last 2000 years, and that isn't even considering the less pleasant and more difficult old testament. For example, are you aware that the idea of the Rapture, so commonly accepted in today's protestant churches, wasn't even "invented" until the 19th century (around 1830)? The Bible is only easy to understand if you accept it on face value (which almost nobody does) or attach your own beliefs to it and ignore other interpretations. As George Bernard Shaw said, "No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means."
Generation Xcellent February 15, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Edward A., I wonder why you dismiss my list of scientists, each of whom made truly great contributions, not just run-of-the-mill scientists, based on time and history. Are today's scientists any better as disproving the existence of God than the hacks of the past? Francis Sellers Collins. There's a modern one.
Linda McDonald Witt February 15, 2013 at 08:31 PM
I'd like to clarify, the message of the gospel is simple, not the Bible. Over the years the development of many different denominations have shown that there is much that many disagree with. But there are core tenets that all Christians can agree, and that much is simple. Your point of the Rapture is a great example of some of the differences between denominations, it is not part of the core tenets.
Tom Jamieson February 15, 2013 at 08:40 PM
It's when the majority have a majority, not when the religious have a majority. When the majority shifts, the stasis shifts, but the behavior is the same. The confusion comes when a simple voting majority mistakes itself for a cultural norm.
Edward A. February 15, 2013 at 09:57 PM
I didn't dismiss them without explanation. I explained why it was more likely, 300 or 400 years ago, that a scientist believed in God -- before evolution explained the diversity of life, geology explained the structure of the surface of the planet, and atomic theory explained the nature and origin of matter. Francis Collins is a rare exception among eminent scientists today, and even he acknowledges there is an uncomfortable relationship between science and religion when he says: "The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming. I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to try to deny that." Basically, his religion had to give up ground to science, because his religion says something that is incompatible with science. That is what has been happening for the last several hundred years -- science has been encroaching on the domain of religion, and religion has been retreating. In every single case where there have been competing scientific and religious explanations for some phenomenon, the scientific explanation has eventually prevailed, leaving less and less for religion to explain. This is the problem creationists and other fundamentalists see that other religious people don't -- they realize it is only a matter of time before religion simply doesn't matter, and they are fighting to keep the forces of naturalism at bay.
Edward A. February 15, 2013 at 10:01 PM
I am sorry, but the work of the Discovery Institute is not science, and this has been amply demonstrated over and over again. First, you should refer to this interesting case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District Then, for a humorous look at what their "science" is, take a look here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/12/21/she-must-be-a-scientist-she-works-in-front-of-a-green-screen/
Edward A. February 15, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Everyone thinks their interpretation is simple and obvious. At one end of the spectrum, you have those people in Kansas who think God hates the USA, and at the other end, you have really liberal churches like the Anglicans, who even have non-believers as leaders. You might be able to boil it down to a simple message, but there are verses that can, and are, used routinely to challenge your interpretation, no matter what it is.
Linda McDonald Witt February 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Edward, dare I say, you seemed to have taken over this forum with your point of view...are you a self appointed moderator? I merely commented on this forum to share my point of view, not expecting to have to defend my faith. It seems if someone has a different point of view than you, you are going to challenge them no matter what. You seem to be straying from you earlier comments " Woodinville seems to have a healthy mix of the religious and non-religious, but we have a peaceful suburban veneer and people seem genuinely tolerant. I have never even discussed religion with my neighbors or casual friends here." My recommendation would be to have that discussion with your Christian neighbors and practice the exercise of tolerance in your comments. Best of luck.
Edward A. February 15, 2013 at 11:15 PM
That's a fair criticism, and I apologize. It's what happens when you have to keep your beliefs private or risk censure by your neighbors and coworkers. You may not see it this way, but promoting the Discovery Institute as science is an attack on science, and I was defending my [lack of] faith.
Patricia Mannie, Patricia & Co. February 19, 2013 at 04:32 AM
This really is a SAD fact that there are less religious people in the Pacific Northwest than any other state in American. Very very sad. I am happy to have a strong faith in God and I love my church family, I love going to church and I love praying!
Edwin February 19, 2013 at 05:52 AM
The belief in God or not thereof means many different things to different people. Some have complete faith in how they were raised and some change in their beliefs over time. Regardless everyone deserves respect as long as they do not harm another. No one can prove their view on the universe, but everyone can chose to treat another person with dignity and respect. So blog politely as if you are speaking to your utmost honorable person that has inspired your life.
Jaydee1958 February 19, 2013 at 06:19 AM
Edwin....what's your point? Everyone believes something different so respect that? Every religion has some truth to it. But every religion is true. It is impossible for this scenario to be true. Hindus belive in 100's of god's, Buddhists believe in movement into one great cosmos. Atheists belive in themselves. Mormons believe they will all be gods. Catholics worship the pope, the queen of heaven....mary, saints, and a bunch of rituals. Satainsts believe in well satan. NOT all are right. One plus one does not equal five. No matter how you want to couch it. I asked which worldview makes more sense. Which you failed to answer. Canabils believe in eating others. With your belief "everyone deserves respect as long as they do no harm". WHY? Hudus also self-inflict, they believe in widow immoluation. Touchy feely goodness will not get you into heaven. Jesus said: "I AM the way, the TRUTH and the LIFE. NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME." Jesus said he was GOD. Preformed many miricales to prove it. His tomb is empty. You need to face and deal with the monumental question: "Who is Jesus to me?" What you do with JESUS decides your eternity. Doesn't matter if you believe in that or not really. The truth cannot be escaped from. Just because I cannot see an atom doesn't mean that they are not there. I cannot "see" cold, heat, the wind yet they are real. I cannot see gravity yet I have to obey it's laws. You break the 10 commandments, there is a price for that that will need to be paid.
Jason F. February 19, 2013 at 11:34 AM
@Joe, you said reproductive choice...but all I heard was "Killing babies" which doesn't need any religious affiliation to understand that killing unborn children is at the root of moral decay. I don't care about your arguments...Even if it your version of "blob of flesh" had a 1% chance of being an alive human being, wouldn't that be enough to preserve it? I don't care about rape or anything, if you want to kill children, there's a special place next to Ted Bundy somewhere really hot waiting for you.
Jason F. February 19, 2013 at 11:36 AM
Remind me never to go to Berkeley, sounds like a bunch of spineless mushy liberals.
Jason F. February 19, 2013 at 11:38 AM
I agree Bob...I am amazed how many post on here that absolutely hate God. My question to the masses, what did God ever do to you to hate him so much?
Jason F. February 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Edward... I have lived my whole life being offended by Christians around me...and as I look back at my life I can't imagine how I have ever managed to stay a Christian. But God has been good to me in the sense that I have never looked at other Christians as the example of what God is. To me the Bible is the most beautiful book in the world. So hypothetically what if the Bible isn't true? I spent my life thinking about others above myself, loving, being kind, smiling more, praying, serving, sacrificing, trusting...and so much more.. So if the Bible isn't true as you claim, at least I spent my life well-worthy of the calling of man. For the record, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real and the Bible is truth.
Jason F. February 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM
I am also saddened at how lost this state is...but look at the most recent laws that have passed in our state...and it is not surprising we are a godless society.
Joe M February 19, 2013 at 02:27 PM
J-Rod, Despite the fact that you said you're not listening, I'll respond. You believe that abortion is murder. Some believe that killing animals for food is murder. Some believe that anyone working on the Sabbath deserves to be stoned to death. I respect the beliefs of others up until the point they try to impose those beliefs on others, especially when religious beliefs are enshrined in law. The First Amendment protects us both, so preach away. As to your comment that you "don't care about rape", I'll leave that discussion for another time.
Edward A. February 19, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Just to be clear, I didn't say the Bible wasn't true, although parts of it are undeniably false -- if you insist on a literal interpretation. I do, personally, doubt it is true in most respects, but I don't have positive evidence that it is entirely false, so, as an honest agnostic, I am not willing to say it is "not true." From my perspective, it is undeniable that the Bible is full of behavior that we would find revolting today -- hardly a model for moral and ethical living. And this is not just limited to the Old Testament, where I could go on for days listing atrocities. For example, Jesus' condoning of slavery, which was used to justify hundreds of years of misery, represents behavior that almost all of us would find reprehensible today. You've expressed the famous "Pascal's Wager." I prefer to live my life based on what I know to be true, not what I hope or wish to be true. The main problem with this is that, even if I did prefer to believe there was a God, why would I choose your interpretation? Even if I were to limit myself to Christianity (why?), there are so many incompatible sects -- how would I pick one? They all claim to be true, and they all have same amount of evidence to back them up. Despite the fact that most claim to have adopted their religion after long study and thoughtful meditation, it isn't a coincidence that, by far, the best predictor of what religion a person will follow is what religion their parents followed.
Edward A. February 19, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Jaydee1958, this is a terrible argument for the existence of God. I cannot see invisible pink unicorns. Are they real? Cold, heat, wind and gravity can be measured. Their effects are all visible. Two people experiencing them experience the same exact phenomena. For example: we are all stuck to the planet, we all come back down to earth after we jump, we all get frostbite in extremely cold weather, we can all fly kites in the wind, and we can all watch water boil, etc. You started off great, saying that all religions can't be right, but then you proceeded to insist, with no evidence (save an empty tomb -- which hardly qualifies as evidence, because we don't have reliable testimony), that your religion is right. It amazes me that this passes for a sensible argument for the existence of God. I suspect I disagree with Edwin. I respect peoples' right to believe what they want to believe, but I don't respect their beliefs. If someone's beliefs are irrational, it doesn't matter to me whether they are religiously inspired.
Edward A. February 19, 2013 at 06:34 PM
It amuses me that you think people who deny God's existence actually hate God. Do you hate Zeus? When it comes to Zeus, you probably feel about the same as I do: There is no evidence for Zeus' existence, and it is rightly regarded as a myth. I can't speak for everyone else on this thread, but I feel exactly that way about the Christian God.
Tony Bussert February 19, 2013 at 06:50 PM
We're the 8th least religious. Did you even read the article?
Tony Bussert February 19, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Edward A. you hit the nail on the head. I don't hate any of the made up gods out there. I find it kind of amusing that folks believe in what will be considered myth by our descendants, I find it interesting that so many people need a book to tell them what is right and wrong when we have an innate sense of it without it, I find it the height of comedy that so many religious folks think that I have no moral compass because I don't believe in a god, and I find it the incredibly arrogant that so many think they have the one way to believe in a made up being.

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