Survey places Oregon 5th in least religious states

EUGENE, Ore. -- While religion may be a taboo subject in many situations, a recent survey suggests that Oregonians may not be bringing it up at all.

The nationwide poll placed Oregon at the bottom of the list of states with religious participation.

A Gallup survey ranks Oregon fifth in the least religious state in the union, with only 29 percent of people considering themselves followers of a religion.

States in the northwest and New England fell into the lower half of the religious participation while southern states (and Utah) proved to have the most devout populations, the Gallup poll states.

Oregon fit this geographical pattern, as just under half of the state's population considers themselves non-religious - a statistic that Eugene-resident Taylor Paschall agrees with.

"I would say that I'm more spiritual than I am religious or that a follow a specific doctrine," said Taylor Paschall. "I wouldn't call myself a Christian or a Jew because I feel you have to follow a certain criteria for those things to happen."

Local religious leaders like Dan Bryant, the senior minister of the First Christian Church, said that spirituality without religious affiliation doesn't mean that Oregon is without faith.

"What it means is there are not as many people in church on Sunday morning," said Bryant. "I find people are just as spiritual. They just may not be connected to an organized religion."

Rabbi Boris Dolin of Temple Beth Israel said that asking whether someone believes in a religion isn't a simple yes or no question.

"As a native Oregonian, I think Oregon definitely has a lot of independent spirits people who come here or grow up here feeling that they are different from the rest of the country and it takes a lot to buy into an organized religion," said Dolin.

While the free-form spirituality of Oregon might have landed it low on the nation's religion poll, Utah, Mississippi and Alabama's devout citizens rounded out the top three.

Gallup said that the biggest takeaway is that the US is still a religious country, with seven out of every ten people moderately religious.

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