Air Conditioning is the Key to Rise of the Nones

A new Baylor University study of counties in the United States finds that those with “with more beautiful weather and scenery have lower rates of membership and affiliation with religious organizations.” It makes sense looking at the top metro areas in terms of their percentage of religious nones. Portland, Ore. (42 percent), Seattle, San Francisco (33 percent each), and Denver (32 percent) rank as the least religious metro areas according to the American Values Atlas (see chart below). They are also beautiful places, and great for outdoor activities.

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The metro areas with the lowest percentages of nones tend to be in the South. Nashville, with 15 percent finally caught up to the rest of the country (in 2008). After the capital of country music, Charlotte has the lowest percentage with 17 percent. Several Southern cities are also tied in the next tier. In Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Orlando the none population is 18 percent, as is in Pittsburgh , which has the lowest percentage of nones in a non-Southern city.Yup, hot weather and religion go together.

The lesson of the Baylor study is that the secular movement needs to invest in nice buildings with air conditioning. Maybe that’s why mega churches in the region are legion. Air conditioning can create heaven on Earth, at least in places where the weather approaches hellish temperatures.

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