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Theologian Decries Increasing Maine Religious Freedom as a Threat to Religious Freedom

Once every ten years, the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies conducts a census, contacting the heads of all religious congregations in the United States and asking them to indicate how many people are members of their congregations. In any area, the number of non-affiliated people is simply the difference between the total of all congregants reported and the known population of people in the area. These are the results of the religious census for Maine:

2010 Religious affiliation in Maine statistics: 72.4% no affiliation, 14.3% Catholic affiliation, 7% mainline protestant, 4.4% Evangelical Protestant, 0.8% Mormon, 1% other

In an article by Judy Harrison on the subject, Bangor Theological Seminary administrator Steve Lewis is quoted with this reaction:

What’s alarming about those numbers is that more than 300 years after the country was founded by people seeking religious freedom, the large numbers of nonaffiliated folks out here is just the norm.

Lewis seems to have a funny definition of the term “religious freedom.” When more and more people operate outside the bounds of religious institutions, that’s not a threat to people seeking religious freedom. However “alarming” it may be to tithe-dependent institutions, non-affiliation is an expansion of people’s freedom.

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