Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Most Churches Per Capita? God, No.

There are some cannards that journalists like to employ to show something ironic about Las Vegas, and the most frequently used one is the notion that Las Vegas has "more churches per capita than anywhere else in the country."

It popped up again in a Q-and-A by Jerry Fink of the Las Vegas Sun conducted with comic Lewis Black. He asks Black for a thought on this apparent paradox, and the comedian gave a standard-issue response about Sodom and Gomorrah hedging its bets.

Except it's not true. This 1997 piece from the Review-Journal takes us through some of the numbers, figuring that at best we had, at that time, a ratio of 1 church/synagogue to 1,700 people. Memphis, Tenn., by contrast, had about 875-to-1. And that was a decade ago, so add another half-million Las Vegans which would have necessitated about 300 new Houses of Worship just to keep at that old pace. I can assure you that if Vegas was opening 2.5 new churches every month, somebody would've noticed.

What's more, do a simple Google search and you'll find countless American cities wishing to, without any further statistical backup, claim to be the most pious city in these United States. Among those is Nashville, Grand Rapids, Mich., Waco, Texas, Wheaton, Ill., and Berkeley, Calif.

Interestingly, there's no such bragging-rights war going on in cities overseas. But either way, Vegas doesn't win this title. And thank God for that.


dave r said...

i have often wondered about claims like this. thanks for raiisng this issue.

scott said...

It doesn't matter. Church and Religion can't save. Jesus does. Acts 16:30-31