Idaho is a state located in the northwestern United States. The state has an area of 83,569 square miles and a population of about 1.7 million people. Idaho's population practices several religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. In addition to these religions, a significant segment of the population is unaffiliated with any religion.
Largest Religions in Idaho
A 2008 study conducted in by the Pew Research Center determined that Christianity was the predominant religion in Idaho, practiced by a whopping 81% of the state's population. Individuals unaffiliated to any religion made up the next largest group (18%), while other religions such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism each composed less than 0.5% of the population. In 2014, findings of a similar study revealed slightly different results. In 2014, Christianity was still the predominant religious group, but its proportion of the population decreased to 67%. The unaffiliated group grew to 27%, while other non-Christian religions also experienced increases in their number of followers.
Christianity in Idaho
Both studies found that Evangelical Protestants were the largest Christian group, representing 22% of Christianity's 81% total in 2008. In 2014, the group had a slightly lower following of 21%. Mainline Protestants were unaffected, representing 16% of the total number of Christians in both studies. The Christian denominations that experienced the greatest decreases were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dropped from 23% to 19% between 2008 and 2014, and Catholics, which dropped from 18% to 10%.
This decrease in the proportion of Christians in Idaho can be largely explained by growth in the unaffiliated category. The unaffiliated group is composed of three groups, namely agnostics, atheists, and those who are simply uninterested in religion. Interestingly, the trend has not occurred only in the state of Idaho, but in the U.S. as a whole.
Religion in the United States
The findings of a larger study, also conducted by the Pew Research Center, showed that more and more young Americans are shunning religion. The drop in religious adherents is explained by the fact that it is becoming increasingly acceptable to claim a lack of interest in religion. In the past, shunning religion led to stigmatization. Other factors may include the widespread use of the internet and social media, and general cultural shifts in the state’s beliefs.
Another possible reason is that young people believe that religion can cause political backlash. This backlash could come from peers and those who may believe that religion is conservative, rather than progressive. In addition, some young people believe that religion is polarized. An additional possibility is that the decrease in the marriage rate has made people less reluctant to engage in customary religious activities. This trend could also be explained by the fact that more people have lost faith in the traditional ways of life.