Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » June 2005 » Fayette County less evangelical than Shelby County?

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06/08/2005: Fayette County less evangelical than Shelby County?

Via Between Two Worlds and Andrew Sullivan, here's an interesting set of maps detailing weekly church attendance in the U.S. for evangelicals, Catholics, and mainstream Protestants. (Which, for some reason, they refer to as "mainline" churches. I thought mainlining was what junkies did with heroin, but what do I know? :)

Take a close look at the evangelical map, and notice the lone yellow (12.4% to 16% weekly church attendance) county in the southwest corner of Tennessee. You might at first think that's Shelby County, where Memphis is, and where thousands and thousands of non-church-going heathens like me reside. You'd be wrong.

Shelby County is the light brown (16% to 20.4% weekly church attendance) one due west of the yellow one. The yellow one is largely rural Fayette County, where I grew up, and attended what I suppose would be classified as an evangelical church (Southern Baptist). It's a big surprise to me that the survey ranks Fayette County as overall less religious than Shelby, for all three classes of churches.

It's certainly no surprise that there's a smaller percentage of churchgoing Catholics (less than 1.0%) in Fayette County. I knew exactly two Catholic kids when I was growing up (and exactly zero Jews). And I'm not surprised that there is a smaller percentage of churchgoing mainstream Protestants (1.8% to 2.8%), but only because I thought they'd be displaced by a greater number of evangelicals. That percentage seems quite low to me. Are Methodists counted as mainstream or evangelical? As I recall, my high school class was a mix of Baptists, Church of Christers, Methodists, and Presbyterians, probably in that order, and I think most of them went to church on a weekly basis. (I know the Church of Christ kids did.)

Is rural Fayette County really the most secular county in the Midsouth?

Brock on 06.08.05 @ 08:24 PM CST

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