02 April 2012

Beyond Christianity In Denver-Boulder-Co. Springs

According to a poll commissioned by 5280 magazine for its April 2012 issue, of 408 people in the Denver-Boulder-Colorado Springs "triangle" suggests that a huge proportion (compared to other historical surveys) are not Christian.

* 60% are Christian (excluding Mormon, Religious Science and Seventh Day Adventist)
* Less than 1% of Mormon
* Less than 1% of Muslim
* Less than 1% of Hindu
* 4% are Jewish
* 2% are Buddhist
* 13% are agnostic
* 7% are atheist
* 12% are "Other" (Tao'ism, Bahai, Living Light, Metaphysical, Shinto, Unitarian, Native American/earth religions, pagan, Religious Science, Scientology, Seventh-Day Adventist, Shamanism, Wiccan, yogic philosophy).

My basic reaction to this is "I wish." There is no way on this earth that 36%-40% of people in this region do not identify as Christian. Boulder, maybe, but not Boulder-Denver-Colorado Springs. I've seen half a dozen other sets of statistics on essentially the same issues and this is not their conclusion. The statistics might be a representative sample of 5280 readers, but not of adults in this region.

Also, self-described atheists and agnostics almost never make up that share of the the non-Christian population. In almost every other survey the largest category of non-Christians is "not religious" and does not attend church services but is "spiritual", often marginally theistic in a generalized way, and rarely self-identified as atheist or agnostic, some of which may be picked up in "other" but which is rarely as organized as the description of "other" implies.

Mormons (at least two denominations are active in Denver) and Seventh-Day Adventists (whose regional headquarters is in Denver across the street from the Adventist Hospital), both of whom absolutely self-identify as Christians, also probably don't like being treated separately from other Christians.

The 5280 story is an entertaining read with interesting insights, but it would be a mistake to afford much credibility at all to its statistics. The sample, however it was drawn, is clearly not randomly drawn or representative.


Anonymous said...

I am not Seventh-Day Adventist, but the only thing that differs from them and mainstream Christian denominations is they meet on Saturday, which is known in the Bible as the Sabbath. Other Christian denominations meet on Sunday's because it is the day Jesus rose from the dead in the New Covenant. I'm sure all Seventh-Day Adventist's would be highly insulted to see themselves in the "other" category. I hope the poll-takers will amend their numbers.

Dave Barnes said...

Why aren't the "Papists" separated from the "real" Christians?

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

There are other distinctions for Seventh-Day Adventists and other Christian denominations in addition to the day of worship. More generally, Seventh-Day Adventists do not see nearly as much of the law of the Torah as being superceded for Christians as other Western and Eastern Orthodox Christian denominations do. But, certainly, very few knowledgable people would consider the Seventh-Day Adventists to something other than a Christian denomination.

Fred said...

@Andrew Oh said: "But, certainly, very few knowledgable people would consider the Seventh-Day Adventists to something other than a Christian denomination." Thank you Andrew, because I am Seventh-day Adventist and I really do not appreciate being categorized as "something other than a Christian denomination." The poll writers don't know very much about SDAs.