Jen Fulwiler of ConversionDiary.Com is doing her “What is the religious climate in your part of the world?” post and it has been really interesting to read the comments on it. As there are people who have commented and linked up who are from the USA, I thought I’d share as I live in a place that is a bit different.
1. WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
A small town that serves as a bedroom community for Sacramento, California.
2. WHAT IS CHURCH ATTENDANCE LIKE? ARE THERE MANY CHURCHES?
According to my husband the Lutheran pastor, our town is about 50% unchurched. We’ve got a range of Protestant churches: Lutherans, Methodists, Church of Christ, Episcopalians, Assemblies of God, a couple non-denom churches (which in Tim Hawkins’ words are “Baptist churches with a cool website”), Southern Baptists, a couple Spanish-speaking Pentecostal groups (one of whom borrows our church building for worship twice a week), and Seventh Day Adventists. We’ve also got a Kingdom Hall (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and a Mormon meetinghouse that has two wards. The Catholic parish in town has 5 masses on weekends, 2 of them Spanish-speaking. I have no idea how full the masses are because the Catholics tend to keep to themselves here and not do anything ecumenical with the ministerial association. (It’s a bummer – I loved the ecumenical stuff we got to do in other parishes.)
As you get into the immediate suburbs of Sacramento and then into the city, you’ll find more ethnic churches and non-Christian communities.
3. HOW APPROPRIATE WOULD IT BE FOR A PERSON TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT HE OR SHE IS A BELIEVING CHRISTIAN IN CASUAL CONVERSATION?
I tend to err on the side of not making a huge deal out of my faith because I was raised agnostic/unaffiliated and I find the “do you know Jesus?” questions to be a bit irritating as a result of dealing with overly enthusiastic people trying to convert me. Having said that, I usually find out where people fall on the spectrum of practice the second I comment nonchalantly that my husband is the pastor at Metanoia*. They usually tell me their entire religious background as well so it doesn’t surprise me to hear that someone is an ex-Baptist, ex-Lutheran, ex-Catholic, etc.
4. WHAT KIND OF FAITH DO THE POLITICIANS CLAIM TO PRACTICE?
It actually took a fair amount of searching to find out what my Congressman claims to be (Catholic) and what my senators are (both Jewish women). Our governor is CINO as far as I know. Unless you’re really lobbying hard for a certain religion’s vote, people don’t bring their personal religion into politics.
5. HOW COMMON WOULD IT BE TO SEE A FAMILY WITH MORE THAN THREE KIDS? WHAT ARE THE ATTITUDES TOWARD FAMILY SIZE?
4 kids is usually of the upper limit for most families here with 2-3 being “normal”. I’m sure there are probably some families with more but I don’t run into them. A family that size is usually a blended one. Having 5 kids under a certain age would probably draw stares, have allusions made to the Duggars, and would likely result in comments like “Do you know what causes that????”
6. WHAT WAS THE DOMINANT BELIEF SYSTEM IN YOUR AREA 50 YEARS AGO? WHAT IS IT NOW?
I’ve only lived up here for two years (I’m from San Jose originally) so I don’t know for sure what it was in the past. My guess is definitely Christian but I couldn’t tell you what the split was between Catholics and Protestants. I do know that the Catholic community 50 years ago was largely Portuguese as we’re a big wine-producing area and one of the members of my husband’s (Lutheran) parish is from a founding family.
These days, it’s mostly unaffiliated. The Protestants seem to be part of the non-denom/Baptist/AOG crowd. The Catholics seem to be mostly Hispanic, given the number of Spanish masses at the parish in town.
7. DO THE PEOPLE WHERE YOU LIVE SEEM HAPPY WITH THEIR LIVES?
People tend to be “busy” and find that being busy gives meaning to their lives so I guess the answer is “yes”? It really varies depending on what is going on with the economy and what the state reps are doing at the Capitol.
*Metanoia isn’t the actual name of the church. I value my privacy so I use a pseudonym for the church’s name.