Diversity In Religion Distinguishes Non-Republican States From Republican States
The big news in American culture this last week was the release of a report on America’s religious landscape by the Pew Research Center. The study shows that the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christian is shrinking in all 50 states. The United States is becoming a more diverse nation in terms of attitudes about religion, with large numbers of Americans embracing alternatives to Christianity, religious and non-religious.
Of course, not every place in the USA is equally diverse. While some places are on the verge of genuine pluralism, others, especially in the South, remain dominated by Christianity.
The impact of these differences can be seen in American political life. Looking at the state-by-state results from the Pew study, a clear pattern emerges. Those states that have low religious diversity tend to elect more Republicans to Congress. As the chart below shows, states that have two Republican U.S. senators have, on average, 10 percent fewer non-Christian residents than states that have two Democratic U.S. Senators.
The scatter plot below shows the details behind these averages. Each blue circle represents one state. Though there is some overlap, the general tend is clear. States that elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate tend to have smaller populations of non-Christian residents, relative to their size – though even in those states, diversity is increasing.