How religious is Kansas?
According to the Pew Research Center’s recent study on religion:
• Kansas ranked 10th in worship attendance, as 47 percent of Kansans say they attend a religious ceremony at least once a week. The national average was 39 percent.
• 61 percent of Kansans say that “religion is very important in their lives,” placing them 13th in the country on this measurement.
• Kansas ranked 14th in both belief in God and frequency of prayer. Nearly 80 percent of Kansans say “they believe in God with absolute certainty,” while 62 percent say they pray at least once per day.
• To view the entire report by the Pew Research Center: www.pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=504
On the street
I would consider myself more spiritual. All sorts of connotations come with the word ‘religious.’
How religious are Kansans?
More religious than residents of most states, according to recent rankings by the Pew Research Center.
Kansas ranked in the top 15 for four measures studied, which were residents’ belief in God, frequency of prayer, worship attendance and importance of religion.
Kansas found itself clustered with southern states, which ranked high in the study, and close to its neighbors Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Mississippi ranked first on all four measures.
The rankings came as no surprise to some local clergy.
“There is an openness in Kansas to the divine,” said the Rev. Peter Luckey of Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.
Kent Winters-Hazelton, pastor at First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway, said the importance of religion to Kansans is visible locally as well.
“This area of Kansas is a much more churched area,” he said. “There is clearly a strong emphasis of religion here in Lawrence.”
But a Kansas University professor of religion, Tim Miller, questioned what the rankings mean, and whether religious commitment is something that actually can be measured.
“It’s all a little slippery,” Miller said. “I would question how accurately that can be measured.”
Miller cited what he terms “subjective guilt” in surveys about religion. Many people believe they should be religious, so they will say that they are when asked, he said.
But is a high religious ranking a positive for the state?
That’s a difficult question to answer, said Joey Ralph, president of KU’s Society of Open-minded Atheists and Agnostics.
“It’s hard to tell if it’s a good or bad thing,” he said, adding that the survey failed to differentiate between open-minded religious practices and those that he terms “more fervent.”
The more important question may be whether someone who identifies with being religious is acting in ways that improve the world, such as promoting social justice, Winters-Hazelton said.
“(Being religious) doesn’t necessarily mean those things are happening,” he said.
But from a pastor’s perspective, a high rank in religious commitment is positive, and possibly a way to further promote the values in a given religion, Luckey said.
“At the end of the day, I’m glad and honored to be a pastor in a state like Kansas,” he said.