Here are some of the takeaways according to PRRI:
- Urban areas attract the unaffiliated; the religiously unaffiliated are among the top three religious groups in every metro area polled.
- Catholics also love cities; Catholicism is among the top three religious groups for nearly every metro area—only Nashville, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Atlanta don’t have Catholics among the top three.
- Atlanta is the only metro area that doesn’t have Catholics, the religiously unaffiliated, or white evangelical Protestants in the number one slot; that prize goes to black Protestants.
- Nashville has the largest percentage of one singular religious group: nearly four in ten (38 percent) residents identify as white evangelical Protestant.
Related to these takeaways, two things stuck out most to me looking at this data:
- The relative evenness of major religious traditions (and unaffiliated) in major cities. Few large regions have one religious tradition that comprises of more than 33% of the population. This suggests a lot of pluralism at the metropolitan region level.
- The pattern does not hold in every case but the leading cities for having the percent of different religious traditions tend to fall into certain regions: Catholics in the Northeast and Midwest, unaffiliated in the West, white evangelical Protestant in the Bible Belt and Midwest.
Put these two factors together and it would be fascinating to consider how the experience of religiosity differs across metropolitan regions. For example, a comparison across traditions such as between Nashville (dominated by white evangelicals) and Portland (dominated by the unaffiliated) could be interesting as would regional differences within the same leading tradition such as between Miami and Milwaukee. If metropolitan regions could be considered fields of religious activity, how might they differ in significant ways?