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Sunday, April 9, 2006

Where are you most likely to find a UU?

Here's a map showing the population density of Unitarian Universalists in the United States, county by county, based on the 2000 Census and membership statistics from the UUA. I don't know whether members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship are included, but I hope they are. At any rate, the most densely UU-populated parts of the country don't exceed 1.5 percent of the population. For comparison, there are several counties with between 10 and 35.2 percent of the population affiliated with the United Church of Christ, while Episcopalians constitute 0.1 to 1.8 percent of the population almost everywhere. And check out the map of the Jewish-populated parts of the country: the pale yellow counties — which track the 0.1 to 1.5 percent range and are therefore comparable to the most UU-dense counties, are scattered all over the country. Here's the map showing the dominant religious regions of the country; here's the complete guide to maps.

(Via Regions of Mind, pointed out to me by KS 4.5.06)

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 9 April 2006 at 2:33 PM

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April 9, 2006 04:57 PM | Permalink for this comment

Interesting to see that the areas where the UCC is strongest appear to come from the E&R side of their merger (the rural Midwest), not the Congregational side (the Northeast).

Interesting to see that the areas where the UUA is strongest appear to come from the Universalist side of their merger (rural New England), not the Unitarian side (urban New England and university towns).

Interesting also to see that in old Puritan New England, where the UUA is stronger than in any other region, the UCC is stronger than the UUA.


April 9, 2006 05:16 PM | Permalink for this comment

I wish the maps graphically showed the overall population of each county because rural counties often show the memberships of only a handful of congregations. (A lot of the bright red Baptist counties in the South are also sparsely populated.) This helps explain your thought that Universalist churches probably account for the UU prominence in upper New England.


April 9, 2006 06:27 PM | Permalink for this comment

Sorry, geography was never one of my better subjects.

What's that big island of UUism in the midwest?



April 9, 2006 07:08 PM | Permalink for this comment

CC, if you mean the clump around Wyoming and Colorado, it's around Boulder and Cheyenne. I'd say that's West, though.

I'm surprised that Beaufort county, SC has the highest percentage in the state. To my knowledge the congregations in Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston are significantly bigger.

Marc Levy:

April 9, 2006 09:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

Something doesn't smell right about this map. There seem to be too many counties that are blank, corresponding to no UU congregations. My own congregation is missing (the absence is easy to note because we are the only one in the county). Spot checking some other areas I also see gaps -- e.g. Dallas County seems blank, but they have a thriving congregation.

I don't know who did the map, but there are clearly some quality problems. Do you know if the UUA reports the name of the county when it publishes membership information? If so, this would be easy to redo with correct data. It may be easier to map by zip code, which I presume is definitely in the UUA list.

- Marc

Christine Robinson:

April 9, 2006 09:40 PM | Permalink for this comment

This is a strange map. No reported UU's in the Dallas area? Wrong. UU's in South western New Mexico? UU's in South eastern Arizona? Not in congregations, anyway. No UU's in Eastern New Mexico? I preached to 20 of them this morning, in Portales, a town of 12,000. There's some benefit this map but it's not very accurate, at least about the West.


April 9, 2006 09:53 PM | Permalink for this comment

Folks, remember that the map shows the percentage of the population that identifies as UU. There may be many more UUs in the Dallas area than in many counties in Maine, but as a percentage of the population they can still be swamped in Baptist country. And because even in our most densely-UU places — like the greater Boston area — we still constitute barely 1 percent of the population. Spread us out a bit more and we quickly disappear.

Donna Rowe:

April 10, 2006 12:06 AM | Permalink for this comment

None reported in Saline County, Kansas? Now, I'm insulted! LOL While the Salina fellowship isn't very large (about 150, only 1/3 of which actually attend on a regular basis), there ARE UUs here in north-central Kansas.

It looks like the areas highlighted encompass the Manhattan, Lawrence and Kansas City congregations.

Marc Levy:

April 10, 2006 09:33 AM | Permalink for this comment

It doesn't matter that the map shows percentages. Zero percent corresponds to zero UUs. That is, the only way to get zero percent is to have zero UUs. The data this group used were definitely incomplete or inaccurate.

If someone has the UU congregation membership totals organized in such a way that linking them to counties or zip codes would be easy, I'd be happy to do a more correct version of this map.

- Marc


April 10, 2006 11:10 AM | Permalink for this comment

I'll venture a guess that the blue spot in southeastern Wyoming turns up because the U. of Wyoming is in Laramie. It's not unusual to have concentrations of UUs in college towns.

I'll also guess that the map legend is wrong, and "none" should really be "less than 0.1%".


April 10, 2006 01:50 PM | Permalink for this comment

I'm also surprised by the high percentage in Carroll County, Arkansas. That there would even be UUs there at all, let alone the possibility of a congregation is amazing. Maybe they are including CLF stats.

Christine Robinson:

April 10, 2006 02:46 PM | Permalink for this comment

It's also possible that the "data" used for this map was persons self-reporting that they are UU's, and I believe that polls show that up to three times more people tell polsters that they are UU's than membership figures show. Still, I'm not sure that this map does much more than make New England UU's feel good.


April 10, 2006 06:23 PM | Permalink for this comment

The data were reported by the UUA and includs 180,000 adherents, meaning members and children.

The data are by congregation, not indivudual. There will be cases where congregations serve more than one county. Carroll County AK only has 10,000 people, so to achieve their exalted status the Eureka Springs UU Fellowship only needs 30 adherents. Probably some drive in from neighboring counties.

"None" clearly means less than .1%. 180,000 is .06% of the US population, so we average into the blanks. But there really are UUs in places like Los Angeles.

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