Monday, November 24, 2008

Buddhism in Vermont, and Christianity in New England

I came across this interesting tidbit a few years ago, and I was recently reminded of this a few times recently. But Vermont's Buddhist population is alive and well. According to some studies: "California may have the nation's largest number of Buddhists, but Vermont, where Asian-Americans are barely 1 percent of the state's population of 621,394, has what surveys suggest is the highest concentration of Caucasian Buddhists."

I thought of this today, specifically, when replying to someone's comment that the Northwestern United States is the most "non-religious" area in the United States. I responded by saying that about 90% of those who identify themselves as "religious" in New England are Roman Catholic, and a high percentage of those individuals are beyond "nominal," but will always identify themselves as religious.

In addition to that, New England has a large percentage of Unitarians, UCC, and other Congregational churches which are, essentially, "secular" Christians (I realize this is a blanket statement, and I apologize to any who may be a part of these communities, to which this does
not apply). I live two doors away from one of the above churches, and, essentially, their idea of "religion" is getting together to listen to classical music, and have pork and bean dinners. This is nothing against them, but such individuals are not very open to the more "evangelical" understanding of Christianity. The above revelation about Buddhism, and the general oppenness to non-Judeo-Christian exploration, also lends itself to a very non-Christian landscape here in New England.

Thus, I will continue to maintain that New England is the most difficult field in the United States to spread the Gospel. The typical New England scene, complete with a white-steepled church, is very deceptive.


Marty said...


Charles said...

Shawn, I have often wondered about New England, and Vermont in particular. "Liberal" politics, gay marriage, nudist towns, and barely any crack-down on child-predation, anti-Christmas, etc.

New England may be beautiful, as you so eloquently state and prove by photography, but there seems to be an undercurrent of anti-Christianity in general (if one were to believe news reels) that I find intriguing.

Why do you suppose that is? I would be curious to know, based on studies why such a dichotomy exists. On the other hand, my conference.... um, never mind! ;-)

Shawn Brace said...

Thank you for your comments folks. Charles, I am going to respond in a whole post to your thoughts. It may be more than you are looking for, and it may not be as "empirical" as you were hoping, but I think this subject deserves further attention.