Liberal Grace

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The two American Bible Belts

The Democrats need to understand that there are two bible belts -- and one is their natural ally.

The Dixicrats and various "southern strategies" have given much attention to the so-called bible belt. I'm sure you're aware of it. Wikipedia maps the bible belt as it is typically conceived.

But I contend that there are two bible belts in America and they are quite different at some key points. I also contend that the "Northern Bible Belt" is a natural ally to the Democrats. It seems like many Democrats are quite unaware of the Northern Bible Belters (my own religious stock.)

The Southern Bible Belters are happy to have the perceived corner on Christianity. My experience is that they are well-aware of the Northern Bible Belt but dismiss us as "liberal Christians" and thus not real Christians.

But this just isn't true. While we Northern Bible Belters value tolerance, we are not morally or theologically liberal. But we tend to vote liberal, especially in the urban parts of our belt.

Here is how I map out the two belts, using per-capita church identity:

If you still have doubts about the Northern Bible Belt -- consider this: New York is more Christian than Texas:

Do you think of New Yorkers as more Christian as Texans? But that's what the statistics tell us. But not just New York! Northerners tend to be highly Christian, just not-so-much evangelical.

I am well-aware of the Northern Bible Belt because my own heritage is North Dakotan who are culturally very conservative but religiously mainstream.

By no means is the Northern Bible Belt a smaller version of the Southern Bible Belt -- northerners are as religiously identified as those in the Southern Bible Belt. Here are the top ten states with the highest percentage of Christian denominational affiliation:

Although both belts are relatively even in their Christian self-identity, the Northern Bible Belt has a whole lot more Christians, thanks to large urban areas like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, etc.

Look at the top 15 states with the most Christians and notice how many are in the Northern Bible Belt. Also notice how many are "blue states."

Obviously these two bible belts are quite a bit different from each other and I'll discuss than in another blog entry.

I just want to convince my fellow Democrats that our Bible Belt is every bit as religious as the Southern Bible Belt and we are even bigger. I also want our political leaders and the media to take us seriously because I am tired of the Religious Right claiming ownership of Christianity in America!

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