The palette of Christianity in America
This map has been around a while, but it just showed up over at Strange Maps. I suppose, on the one hand, it doesn’t really show us anything new. But it also provides us with some visual data to back up what we might have thought about the landscape of America.
In my own little world, concerned with the Episcopal Church, I think it’s interesting to note that stewardship patterns are lousy (it seems) in the predominantly Roman Catholic areas, and much better in predominantly Southern Baptist areas. Could it be that some dioceses are riding on the coat tails of good teaching about tithing in Baptist churches? You see, in the parish I serve, where we rank below the diocesan giving average in the worst-giving diocese in the country, our congregation is comprised of many former Roman Catholics. It takes a long time — and a conversion experience! — to move someone beyond the “toss a buck into the plate” mentality. And of course, there’s more.
We like to pretend that this great country of ours is one big, monolithic place. How often do we overlook subtle regional differences? I wonder how much of our regional variety is based on the theological memes of the local populace. Perhaps more than we would imagine.
It is also worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be one county in the entire country with a plurality of Episcopalians. I’m not sure what the implications are, but I’m sure that this is hard-wired in the DNA of our ecclesiastical thinking. We are — as the map shows — always a minority church, even though the Episcopal Church is clearly well connected to the political power in Washington. Might that encourage us to think of ourselves as a holy elect?
I love maps like these. What patterns, dear reader, do you see here?