MORE

Photos: Top twelve least religious communities in America -- and where Boulder falls on the list

Gallup has released a new poll that measures the most religious communities -- a list topped by the Provo-Orem, Utah area, where 77 percent of respondents described themselves as "very religious."

What about the least religious places? Gallup calculated that, too, with none other than Boulder finishing very, very close to the top -- or is that bottom? Look below to count down the twelve least religious metro areas in the U.S. by Gallup's measure, complete with a fun, Wikipedia-approved fact for each.

Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison, Wisconsin.

Number 12: Madison, Wisconsin Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 26 percent Fun fact: "Madison is home to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which attempts to influence government in matters relating to the separation of church and state. The largest national organization advocating for non-theists, FFRF is known for its lawsuits against religious displays on public property, and for advocating removal of 'In God We Trust' from American currency. The group publishes a monthly newspaper, Freethought Today."

Springfield, Massachusetts.
Springfield, Massachusetts.

Number 11: Springfield, Massachusetts Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 26 percent Fun fact: "The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield operated five Catholic elementary schools in the city, all of which were consolidated into a single entity, St. Michael's Academy, in the autumn of 2009." Continue counting down the twelve least religious communities in America -- and where Boulder falls on the list.  

Albany, New York.
Albany, New York.

Number 10: Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 26 percent Fun fact: "Albany is home to the oldest Christian congregation in Upstate New York and the Mother Churches of two Christian dioceses. As of June 2010, eight churches or religious buildings in the city were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of which -- St. Peter's Episcopal Church on State Street -- is a National Historic Landmark."

Bremerton, Washington.
Bremerton, Washington.
Wikipedia

Number 9: Bremerton-Silverdale, Washington Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 26 percent Fun fact: "L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology founder, attended Union High School and wrote his early works while living in Bremerton during the late 1930s and early 1940s." Continue counting down the twelve least religious communities in America -- and where Boulder falls on the list.  

Boston, Massachusetts.
Boston, Massachusetts.

Number 8: Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Massachusetts-New Hampshire Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 25 percent Fun fact: "The oldest church in Boston is King's Chapel, the city's first Anglican church, founded in 1686 and converted to Unitarianism in 1785. Other churches include Christ Church (better known as Old North Church, 1723), the oldest church building in the city, Trinity Church (1733), Park Street Church (1809), First Church in Boston (congregation founded 1630, building raised 1868), Old South Church (1874), Jubilee Christian Church and Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Mission Hill (1878)."

Eugene, Oregon.
Eugene, Oregon.
Wikipedia

Number 7: Eugene-Springfield, Oregon Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 24 percent Fun fact: "Religious institutions of higher learning in Eugene include Northwest Christian University and New Hope Christian College. Northwest Christian University (formerly Northwest Christian College), founded in 1895, has ties with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). New Hope Christian College (formerly Eugene Bible College) originated with the Bible Standard Conference in 1919, which joined with Open Bible Evangelistic Association to create Open Bible Standard Churches in 1932." Continue counting down the twelve least religious communities in America -- and where Boulder falls on the list.  

San Francisco, California.
San Francisco, California.

Number 6: San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Cailfornia Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 24 percent Fun fact: "With the arrival of the 'beat' writers and artists of the 1950s and societal changes culminating in the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury district during the 1960s, San Francisco became a center of liberal activism, with Democrats and Greens dominating city politics. San Francisco has not voted more than 20 percent for a Republican presidential or senatorial candidate since 1988."

Santa Rosa, Calfornia.
Santa Rosa, Calfornia.

Number 5: Santa Rosa-Petaluma, California Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 23 percent Fun fact: "Florian Dauenhauer of Santa Rosa founded Dauenhauer Manufacturing which is still located on 5th Street in Santa Rosa. Around 1940, he revolutionized the US hop industry by inventing a hop harvesting machine which mechanized what was a time-consuming, labor-intensive process and which is the basis for current hop harvesting. Unfortunately for the region, it helped destroy the region's once-thriving hop industry." Continue counting down the twelve least religious communities in America -- and where Boulder falls on the list.  

Portland, Maine.
Portland, Maine.

Number 4: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 22 percent Fun fact: "Appreciation for sustainable food and farming gained a significant boost throughout the state in the 1970s when back-to-the-landers moved to Maine in droves. With them came the resurgence of farmers' markets (including the expansion of the Portland market), a significant organic farming movement and an increased interested in plant-based cuisine. The echoes of this movement continue in Portland, where restaurants emphasize local and organic food and where the state's greatest concentration of vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly restaurants can be found."

Manchester, New Hampshire.
Manchester, New Hampshire.
Wikipedia

Number 3: Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 22 percent Fun fact: "The nickname "ManchVegas" was derived from illegal gambling in local businesses during the late 1980s or early '90s. Many pizza shops and local bars had video poker machines that would pay out real money. The nickname was coined following a city-wide bust of these machines. It was then adopted as a lampoon of the city's limited entertainment opportunities. The term has since become a source of pride as the city's entertainment scene has grown." Continue counting down the twelve least religious communities in America -- and where Boulder falls on the list.  

Boulder, Colorado.
Boulder, Colorado.

Number 2: Boulder, Colorado Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 17 percent Fun fact: "The arrangement of electric lights in the shape of a star on the east side of Flagstaff Mountain is a familiar symbol in Boulder. First turned on as a Christmas decoration in December 1947, the star survived several controversies to become what it is today--part of the area's history and culture. In April 1948, the Boulder Chamber of Commerce converted the star into an Easter cross. Then, for two decades, the long string of lights alternated between the two symbols. In 1955, 1956, and 1960, someone, or some group, painted the bulbs red, speculated to have been part of a Communist conspiracy. In 1969, the star/cross was changed again--this time into a gigantic peace sign. Finally, some Boulder residents had had enough. They filed a complaint with the Boulder Human Relations Commission on the grounds that the star and the cross (both considered Christian symbols and located on city park property) violated the U.S. Constitution in its separation of church and state. Although the lights had sparked a controversy, they stayed on. The debate resurfaced a year later. In 1970, the same group brought to the Boulder City Council a resolution banning all lighted displays on Flagstaff Mountain. Of the Flagstaff star, a Boulder City attorney stated, 'It is our job to guarantee rights of free speech, but that does not mean that one is guaranteed a platform which gives him a captive community audience.' The termination of the cross was something people could accept, but the possibility that the star might have to come down caused an uproar among the majority of Boulder citizens. Eventually, the council determined that the cross had to go, but the star represented a 'sense of community.' In 1980, the star served yet another purpose. It was left on month after month as a reminder of the Americans held hostage in Iran. This ongoing use of electricity, however, upset environmentalists who removed the bulbs, chopped down the wires, and publicly announced that the man-made object disturbed wildlife and wasted energy. Even so, the majority of Boulder's residents still wanted their star, and, once again, they rallied to its defense. It has survived the test of time and appears to be here to stay."

Burlington, Vermont.
Burlington, Vermont.

Number 1: Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont Percentage of survey takers who consider themselves very religious: 17 percent Fun fact: "Current U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was the Socialist mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989."

More from our Strange But True archive: "Five weirdest stories of job hate."


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >