If you’re an atheist, then the Pacific Northwest is the place for you. Three of the most godless cities in America are on the West coast, with the Rose City – Portland, Oregon – coming in as the least faithful. According to a survey of 50,000 people conducted by the nonpartisan and nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Atlas, 42 percent of Portland’s residents are “religiously unaffiliated.” Seattle and San Francisco tied at second place (33 percent), with Denver and Phoenix (32 percent and 26 percent) in third and fourth place.
Compared to more devout cities such as Nashville and Charlotte, Portland bills itself as “quirky and different” (the city’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird”). Daniel Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, credits this atmosphere as “very attractive to people who may not feel comfortable in other social environments, particularly with a stigma against those who are atheists.”
Studies show one-fifth (22 percent) of the U.S. population has no religious affiliation whatsoever. Numbers are rising. Last year atheists were 15 percent of the population; 10 years ago, numbers stood at 10 percent. In the 1950s, it was 1 percent. In late 2012, it was reported that atheism was the third-largest “faith” in the world after Christianity and Islam.
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