Iowa is an American state occupying an area of roughly 56,272 square miles and with a population of 3,145,711 individuals according to estimates from the US Census Bureau in 2017. Iowa has the 37th highest population density in the US with 55 individuals living in each square mile. Iowa joined the US in 1846 as the 29th state. Religion has been practiced in Iowa's territory for a long time due to the Native American population living in the area. Tribes such as the Hidatsa practiced a religion that placed great emphasis on ancestral spirits and the relationship between people and nature. The influx of Europeans into the state reduced the number of people who practiced the traditional religions. Several Native American communities such as the Sauk were moved out of the state further reducing the influence of the native religion. Today, Christians make up the largest religion in Iowa.
Largest Religions in Iowa
A survey carried out in 2014 indicated that 60% of Iowa's population identified as Protestants an increase by 8% from 2002. Mainline Protestants make up the largest Protestant population in Iowa as they account for up to 30% of the community. The United Methodist Church in Iowa has slightly over 235,000 individuals attending the service. The history of the Methodist Church in Iowa stretches back to the state's early history with early congregations being set up in 1834. The Iowan Methodist congregation had built a church in Dubuque by 1836. Evangelical Protestants are the second most dominant Protestant group in the state at roughly 28% of the population. Iowans who attend nondenominational evangelical churches make up 6% of the total population. The Lutheran and Baptist evangelical traditions also have significant membership in the state. Most of the Evangelical Protestants came to Iowa after the growth of the state.
Roman Catholics were the first European religious group to conduct a spiritual service in Iowa's territory led by Father Jacques Marquette. Roman Catholics were among the first to build a church in Dubuque. By 1834 a Roman Catholic congregation had been set up in Iowa. Some of the most well-known Catholic missionaries who worked to spread the Catholic in the region were Father Charles van Quickenborne and Father Samuel Mazzuchelli. A 2014 survey indicates that Roman Catholics make up approximately 18% of the state's population a decline from 2001 figures when they made up 23% of the total population.
Islam has had a presence in Iowa's territory for a long time, and Muslims currently make up 1% of the population. Iowa is home to America's oldest mosque known as the Mother Mosque of America whose construction was undertaken by immigrants from the Middle East and it was completed in 1934. Most of the Muslim immigrants into Iowa were escaping Ottoman oppression. Iowa's second largest city, Cedar Rapids, has had a Muslim population since at least 1895. The city is also home to America's first cemetery used exclusively by the Muslim community.
Religion and Politics in Iowa
Over the state's history, religion has played a significant role in shaping its political destiny. Religion divided the state during the time of the Prohibition with some fully supporting it while others castigating. Other political issues affected by religion in the state included the creation of gambling casinos.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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