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DailyTidings.com
  • Divining the 'Cascadian Mind'

    Local spiritual leaders examine Northwest beliefs
  • An American Religious Identification Survey in 1990 pointed to the Pacific Northwest as home of the greatest number of people who, when asked their religious preference, said 'none.'
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    • An American Religious Identification Survey in ...
      Percent of "nones" by state:
      Vermont 34
      New Hampshire 29
      Wyoming 28
      Maine 25
      Washington 25
      Oregon 24
      Nevada 24
      Idaho 23
      Massachusetts 22
      Montana 21

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      An American Religious Identification Survey in 1990 pointed to the Pacific Northwest as home of the greatest number of people who, when asked their religious preference, said "none." New England has surpassed the Northwest in the most recent study.
      Percent of "nones" by state:

      Vermont 34

      New Hampshire 29

      Wyoming 28

      Maine 25

      Washington 25

      Oregon 24

      Nevada 24

      Idaho 23

      Massachusetts 22

      Montana 21



      and on the other end of the spectrum:

      North Dakota 7

      Louisiana 8

      Tennessee 9

      Alabama 11

      Oklahoma 11
  • An American Religious Identification Survey in 1990 pointed to the Pacific Northwest as home of the greatest number of people who, when asked their religious preference, said "none." A new ARIS survey says that number has increased in Oregon from 18 to 24 percent and in Washington from 15 to 25 percent, giving rise to this region being called the home of the "unchurched."
    However, the latest ARIS survey, by Trinity College in Connecticut, notes the Northwest has slipped into second place behind New England, where Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine all lead Oregon and Washington as home of the "nones."
    According to the just-published "Cascadia: the Elusive Utopia." (Ronsdale Press, Douglas Todd, ed.), a lot of these "nones" in the Pacific Northwest are actually very spiritual, walking a path of their own making, but not into organized religions and churches.
    Sociology professor Mark Shibley of Southern Oregon University wrote the lead essay called "The Promise and Limits of Secular Spirituality in Cascadia."
    "This region is different. The people here are not as connected to religious institutions," he says.
    The alternative spirituality here shows itself in two main ways, Shibley notes: "nature spirituality," such as you see in the secular environmental movement, and the more well-known New Age spirituality, where the gaze is shifted inward.
    Cascadia is considered to be Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, a region noted for its independence — a spirit that spawned the State of Jefferson movement in the mid-twentieth century. It tried to make a new state of Southern Oregon and Northern California, an area removed from all major centers of population and political power.
    Shibley, a native Oregonian, says he's not an adherent of either New Age or nature religions. But he did come of age in the 1970s and "I've hiked the wild areas and stood on top of mountains reading 'The River Why' and Gary Snyder and Barry Lopez and I do know the mountain-top epiphany."
    In its politics as well as its religion, Cascadia, says Shibley, presents "an anti-government sensibility. The world out there is pretty screwed up and we want to be left alone to do our thing."
    Our sense of nature spirituality goes back to pioneers and ranchers who didn't have or want a lot of churches around them, says Shibley, and it got extended and shifted by Baby Boomers who "settled in the hills and became part of that experiment and invented this new culture that is less exploitative of resources and wants to care for that resource base for generations to come."
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