Which States Have the Highest and Lowest Percentage of Catholics?


See here for the answer from a Pew Center 2014 survey, or make your guesses below.

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  1. Given what I’ve seen out of this latest pope, I’m going to have to guess the greatest number of Catholics are in a state of confusion – “Is the Pope Catholic?” used to be a rhetorical question.

  2. “Which States Have the Highest and Lowest Percentage of Catholics?”

    Which libertarian publication shouldn’t give a flying fuck?

    1. You just hurt Eddy’s feelings. But seriously, libertarians should care about the Catholic Church becausethey banned cousin marriage a long time ago. Apparently, cousin marriage is bad for fostering a cultural millieu receptive to libertarian principles.

      1. Let us also keep in mind that until the 1970s, the Catholic church was pretty much the only entity keeping anti-abortion laws alive (even the Southern Baptists had no problem with liberalization).

        Suddenly in the late 70s the “Moral Majority” (a Catholic-led movement) converted hordes of Prods into accepting Papist Dogma (though for the most part, they haven’t succeeded in having them join in the absolute ban on using birth control) that abortion was totally a sin which had to be banned with inquisition-like state power.

        1. “even the Southern Baptists had no problem with liberalization”

          In fact, in the mid-1960s southern states like Mississippi had the most liberal abortion laws in the country. Mind you some of the motivation of those laws were to allow “pure white womanhood” to abort the results of their rape at the hands of “vicious negro predators.”

          1. Sorry, I forgot to put “rape” in the appropriate quotation marks.

          2. Abortion was mostly accepted and unregulated until the Irish immigration of the early 1800s brought fears of Catholics having more babies and eventually outnumbering Protestants.

            1. Was there anywhere a woman could have gotten a safe and reliable abortion back in the 19th century. Count me skeptical.

              1. Pharmaceutical abortions go back to ancient Greece, at least.

        2. Don’t think that the Moral Majority was a Catholic led movement as you assert. Jerry Falwell was anything but Catholic. Formed alliances on the issue of abortion with catholics (enemy of my enemy is my friend sort of relationship), but had to keep his distance politically due to the generally hostile views of fundamentalist protestants for the Catholic church. [because the fundamental dogma of being ‘protestant’ is to keep up the protest]

          1. Partially true. Jerry Falwell was for the most part an aberration in the Protestant community.

            Now, it’s true that before the 1970s there was a general belief that unmarried women that got pregnant were dirty immoral sluts who deserved to be shamed but, as I noted, for the most part abortion as a general thing was accepted as something each woman had to deal with herself according to her own conscience in the protestant community.

            1. Especially when it was your teenage daughter who was “in trouble”.

              If you were a Potestestant it was highly likely you would think about abortion as a “way out”.

    2. Which commenter apparently does give a flying fuck, thus justifying the article?

      1. FWIW, a discussion of Catholic influence is completely justified.

        Ayn Rand acknowledged the Catholic Church as a major influence on philosophical and intellectual thought in spite of her militant atheism.

        There are libertarian scholars who believe that Catholicism is completely compatible with libertarianism (eg a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Woods”>Thomas Woods.

        I suppose that “we” should all give “a flying fuck” because so many libertarian thinkers have done so before us and perhaps we should give some consideration as to why.

  3. I would guess states with high percentages of Latinos. Perhaps Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey.

    1. Now that I looked, I wasn’t off by much. I am surprised by the Dakotas, and Rhode Island.

      1. The Dakotas, Germans. Rhode Island, Italians and Portuguese.

        1. I doubt ND is more Catholic than normal because of Germans. Most Americans have significant German heritage, so it wouldn’t be out of the norm. I bet it has more to do with the natives in the area being converted by the French (Chippewa are very Catholic) rather than British Americans. ND has a high Native American population and also a higher-than-normal French population (in rates).

          ND and SD are also more Christian overall than the average state while having fewer big umbrellas to fall under – there isn’t a significant Black Protestant population, for instance – so they’ll have a higher specific denomination rate compared to the average state simply because there are fewer.

          1. Excellent point about the Native Americans.

        2. In RI, yes Italians and Portuguese, but also Irish and French Canadian.

          1. Excellent point.

    2. Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Latinos. All of those states had latinos who stayed after they became part of the USA. Especially NM.

      OTOH, NY and NJ can be explained by Irish and Italians although both have more recent arrivals of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Cubans.

      MA, Irish and Italians, Florida, Cubans and later Puerto Ricans.

      1. I’m actually a bit surprised at New Mexico, which is where I grew up. While NM has Hispanics from not only the Mexican era, but even the early Spanish era, it had a huge amount of immigration of anglos (including my family). My guess is that a recent influx of Hispanics from the south has raised the numbers back up.

        Arizona had very few Hispanics until the invasion of the last 30 years. Yes, it has Spanish names for many places, but most people don’t pronounce them the Spanish way. It’s only been in the last 20 years or so that the signs in stores became bilingual, and that the Phoenix barrios grew from a few blocks downtown to almost the entire southwest side.

        Oh, and it’s not just Hispanics. At my Catholic parish, we have a bunch of Asians, especially Filipinos and Vietnamese.

        As an aside, in north-eastern New Mexico is a small population that, at least as of a few decades ago, still spoke 16th Century Castilian Spanish. Linguists traveled there to study their speech. That same population also raised the last armed rebellion against the US, in the 1970’s – the Tijerina Rebellion – a fight to recover their Spanish land grant rights.

  4. Not much surprised – I knew that New England (specifically, MA, RI, CT) were among the highest, and the Bible Belt is relatively low.

    The actual survey question indicates that this is about what people presently consider themselves, so frequency of church attendance (inter alia) is not considered.

  5. Highest:
    Rhode Island



    (my guesses)

    1. That’s my guess, too (though I’m not sure about Utah–my second guess would be Arkansas).

    2. No, actually Mississippi is at the bottom at 4% Utah comes in at 5%.

      I comment on this above but for some reason my “comment is awaiting moderation.” Not sure why.

      I speculated that Mississippi is at the bottom because of the KKK.

  6. I went straight to the poll and would now like to know how is it possible that 2% of Catholics “do not believe in God”?

    1. I strongly doubt it is that low.

      After years of wide-ranging discussion, the leader of a Catholic university told me a ‘crisis of faith’ years earlier had
      eliminated (or nearly eliminated, to the point of agnosticism) his belief in the church’s supernatural claims but that he embraced the social, charitable, and educational missions of his institutions — the university and Catholic Church — nonetheless. He still is the leader of that institution. A Catholic who doesn’t believe in God.

      In general, observing the conduct and statements of Catholics inclines me to believe that the relevant percentage is much higher than two.

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    2. Same way you have Jewish atheists.

      They go through the motions, follow at least some parts of the religion’s commands, and identify that way, but they lack faith in the deity.

      Going through the motions and keeping your lack of faith to yourself isn’t really new.

      1. Yes. I refer to them as “cultural Catholics.”

  7. I’m curious how Volokh intends to tie a 2014 survey back to some relevant point.

    As is, suddenly saying “look, Catholics!” based on a five-year old survey seems awful… odd.

  8. I figured the heavily Hispanic states would be heavily Catholic as well, somewhat surprised by the New England states as I thought they were all Episcopalian.

    1. Nobody’s Episcopalian.

      The Episcopal Church reported its US membership as 1,676,349 in 2018, which is to say, half a percent of the US population. Self-reported Episcopalianism in surveys runs around 1.1%.

      1. At least here in RI, we do still have Episcopal churches, but their parking lots are awfully empty on Sunday mornings. I don’t know how they continue to exist. Many have been sold to other denominations. One in my old neighborhood is now an Armenian church.

    2. Historically, New England was congregationalist. Episcopalians were most numerous in the Upper South. But New England’s demographics were hugely altered by Catholic immigration.

  9. I am not sure why but I still see this above:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Isaac Bartram
    December.3.2019 at 3:20 am

    Now here it is over a day later and this is still there.

    I’ realize the Reason has a right to moderate content, but I not exactly sure what is so immoderate about my comment.

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