The Seattle Times recently analyzed an ongoing Household Pulse Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau to conclude that out of all of America’s metropolitan areas, Seattle, Washington, is the least religious. The paper reported, “A clear majority of adults in the Seattle area — around 64% — never attend church or religious services, or go less than once a year. That pencils out to about 1.98 million people out of the total 3.1 million population aged 18 and older in our metro area, which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.”

It went on to note that the survey, having been conducted from January 9 to February 5, had approximately 68,500 respondents nationwide. Seattle ranked as the least religious of America’s 15 largest metro areas, narrowly beating San Francisco’s 63 percent of those who rarely or never attend religious services. The Seattle news outlet reported, “The southern parts of the U.S. tend to be more religious, so it’s not surprising to see three Sunbelt cities with the lowest share of nonreligious residents among large metros. In Dallas, 40.5 percent never attend a service or go less than once a year. Houston and Atlanta were just a little higher.”

However, while many American states are known for a division between a less religious urban population and a more religious rural population, the state of Washington is notably irreligious in both. The Seattle Times wrote, “What may be surprising to folks in the Seattle area, though, is that the rest of Washington is nearly as nonreligious as Seattle. Statewide, 63 percent never or almost never attend religious services, just 1 percentage point lower than the number for the Seattle area. Washington ranked as the fifth least-religious state. Maine and Vermont were at the top, both at around 69 percent, followed by Oregon (65 percent) and New Hampshire (64 percent). Mississippi had the lowest share of nonreligious people, with only 30 percent never or almost never attending services.”

One stark observation is that these are not as much of an outlier as Americans might think, as data indicated that nationally, half of adults either never go to religious services whatsoever or attend less than once a year. The data also reportedly indicated that Seattle has a notably high concentration of younger adults, who are demographically less likely to attend church services, to the degree that “more than 42 percent of the adult population was between the ages of 18 and 39 in 2022, the highest percentage among the 15 metros.”

Another demographic that may help explain the irreligious majority in Seattle is race. “The survey data shows only 35 percent of Black people nationally never or almost never attend services, the lowest of any racial or ethnic group. White people had the highest percentage, at 54 percent, ” the local news outlet wrote. “Census data shows in the Seattle area that Black people made up just 6 percent of the total population in 2022, second lowest among the 15 metro areas. White people comprised 57 percent of the total population, which was the fourth highest among the metros.”

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