Keeping the faithNorth Dakota is one of the most religious states in the U.S., according to researchers who study congregation membership.
By: Anna G. Larson, The Republican Eagle
North Dakota is one of the most religious states in the U.S., according to researchers who study congregation membership.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are near the top, too.
“The Bible Belt isn’t just in the South,” said the Rev. Paul Nynas, executive pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Fargo. “The Midwest, and North Dakota in particular, has strong churches and communities.”
North Dakota has the second highest rate of religious adherence in the United States, with 67.1 percent of North Dakotans claiming a religion, according to statistics from the 2010 Association of Religion Data Archives U.S. Congregational Membership report. The ARDA conducts membership surveys every 10 years.
Utah is No. 1, with 79.1 percent of its population claiming a religion. Maine ranked lowest at 27.6 percent.
Minnesotans and Wisconsinites also are faithful at a rate higher than the national average.
Minnesota’s rate of adherence ranks ninth in the nation, with 56.3 percent of Minnesotans claiming religious adherence. Wisconsin is right behind Minnesota at 53.6 percent.
People who are not adherents of any of the 236 groups included in the ARDA study account the largest group of people nationwide, with 51 percent of Americans listed as “unclaimed.”
In Minnesota, 44 percent consider themselves unclaimed, while 33 percent of North Dakotans and 45 percent in Wisconsin are unclaimed.
Catholics are 19 percent of the U.S. population, 22 percent of Minnesota’s population and 25 percent of both Wisconsin’s and North Dakota’s population.
Sixteen percent of U.S. residents are evangelical Protestants, compared to 14 percent of Minnesotans and Wisconsinites and 12 percent of North Dakotans.
Seven percent of the people in the U.S. are mainline Protestant, compared to 29 percent in North Dakota, 18 percent in Minnesota and 12 percent in Wisconsin.
Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Judaism and more than a dozen other religions, plus black Protestants and Orthodox Christians, make up a smaller sliver of religious people in the region that in the U.S. Nationally, 7 percent observe one of those religions. It’s only 1 percent in North Dakota, 2 percent in Minnesota and less than 1 percent in Wisconsin.
Historian and Concordia College professor Roy Hammerling attributes the region’s high rates of religious adherence to strong immigrant traditions, the abundance of rural communities and each state’s connection to agriculture.
“There’s something about culture and religion that people in this area still find valuable to this day,” he said.
Anne Jacobson contributed to this report.