Tuesday, February 02, 2016

America's Preferred City for Atheists and Progressives

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Market Watch, a company that tracks trends in the marketplace is reporting, "If you don't believe in God, you might want to move to..."

The same study shows Charlotte, NC is the most religious city in the country. The least religious may not surprise you.

One's belief about God and biblical values most often translate to how we vote.

Some thoughts on how Iowa voted yesterday.

The first step toward electing the next president of the United States was taken in Iowa last night. 
According to the New York Times, late last night, the vote was as follows: 
Cruz 27.7%
Trump 24.4%
Rubio 23%
Carson 9.3% 
Takeaway-- Cruz, Trump and Carson represent the anti political GOP establishment. Together they received 61.4% of the Republican votes. More than 6 in 10 Republican voters in Iowa stuck their thumb in the eye of the Republican Party, that has not so subtly tried to undermine these candidates. 
Clinton 49.9%
Sanders 49.4% 
Takeaway--Half of Iowan Democrats who voted prefer an avowed socialist to the Democratic Party establishment candidate. 
Democrat O Malley and Republican Huckabee announced last night they are suspending their campaigns.

Market Watch is citing a study from the non partisan, non profit Public Religion Research Institute's American Values Atlas.

The study found Portland, Oregon is the most atheist, progressive friendly city in America, prompting them to write, "If you don't believe in God, you might want to move to the Pacific Northwest."

While Portland ranked #1 as the least religious city, Seattle and San Francisco are tied for #2.

Charlotte had the fewest people with no religious affiliation. The link above shows the list of cities from least religiously affiliated to most religiously affiliated.

One caveat, in fairness, is that the AVA study didn't specify that a certain percentage of these metro areas were atheists. While many people who do not believe in God may not attend religious services, there are those so-called "Christian" denominations which atheists do attend, such as the Unitarian Universalism groups.

Another caveat is that many who mark the survey "none" when asked about church affiliation, attend non denominational churches, but consider themselves unaffiliated with traditional churches. This would also be true nationally.

Both these variables have affect on the survey, however, in general it is not difficult for those of us who live in the Northwest to believe that the great northwest may in fact be the most non-religious part of the country.

AVA reports, "Portland is quirky and different, and very attractive to people who may not feel comfortable in other social environments, particularly with a stigma against those who are atheists."

Portland's unofficial motto is "Keep Portland Weird." Seattle reflects that sentiment, with a little more class.

A 2004 book, "Religion and Public Life in The Pacific Northwest: The None Zone" found there has been no influx of one major denomination or religious group, such as the case in Utah, so religious groups, spiritual environmentalists, and secularists "must vie or sometimes must cooperate with each other to address the region's pressing economic, environmental and social issues."

We have seen the effect of this dynamic on the most important social issues---marriage, abortion, assisted suicide, etc. Oregon and Washington lead in Progressive attitudes toward these matters.

In his book, "The Big Sort," Bill Bishop documented the "clustering" of like minded Americans around politics and culture. Like attracts like.

Then writers of, "The None Zone," say, "A clearly recognizable religious reference group functions as a social mirror, along side or against which an individual can define himself or herself. The Pacific Northwest has neither. Most people who come into the region do not come seeking to replicate what they left behind."

This certainly defines much of the spirit and culture in the Northwest.

More, not fewer of like minds, will continue to move into the Northwest.

Former Governor Christine Gregoire admitted to the press she remained conflicted about marriage for 7 years before she abandoned the teaching of her Catholic church and that of her parents to come out in support of so-called same-sex "marriage."

The spiritual culture in the Northwest lends itself to the abandonment of biblical values.

And it tends to quiet, if not silence the voices that should publicly advocate biblical values from the pulpit and in the market place.

However, cultural conditions are not the final word.

The book of Hebrews lists Gideon among the heroes of faith. Most biblical Christians know his story as one of spiritual faithfulness and one of overcoming insurmountable odds.

Once Gideon worked through his fear and sense of not being qualified for the task God had called him to, he was to experience an even greater shock.

Thinking he had 32,000 troops to go up against the Midianite army which numbered at least 135,000 troops, God began paring down his numbers.

In the end, most of us know that Gideon ended up with 300 troops---and a promise: "The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor" (Judges 6:12).

We also know that the battle happened and the army of Gideon prevailed, because it never was about human numbers or strength. It was about faithfulness to God.

And the method of Gideon's attack is hardly a model for warfare---then or now.

Centuries later Paul wrote the Word of the Lord to God's people, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness."

The prophet Zechariah also knew that although God includes us in His plans, God's plans do not depend on human might or strength.

It was he who wrote, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts" (4:6).

Be Faithful. Be Informed. Be Bold. Be Prayerful.