This fascinating map from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (click to enlarge) shows the second largest religious tradition in each of the states of the US. Buddhism is in second place in 13 states. Hawaii, with a large population of Japanese descent, perhaps isn’t a surprise. California is perhaps incapable of giving surprises. Alaska? I did not see that coming.
Of course it probably doesn’t take much for a religion to be in second place in the US. Christianity, as you’d expect, is the majority religion in every state. Another resource shows that the percentage of the population identifies as Buddhist in each of these states is in the order of 1% to 2% — although this map doesn’t include Hawaii, where estimates of the percentage of Buddhists range from 6% to 9%. It’s striking that in Hawaii, only 29% of the population identifies as Christian, and 51% are unaffiliated.
Nationally less than 1% of the population is Buddhist, according to Pew Research.
I wonder what this map will look like 100 years from now? My guess would be that Christianity will still be the majority religion, but with a much smaller majority, many more non-believers, and some states with up to 10% of the population practicing some form of Buddhism. I’m convinced that Buddhism is the religion of the future, being practical, compatible (in essence) with a rational approach to the world, flexible, and offering a wide variety of approaches to spirituality.
In fact, I think that the future of religion in the US looks very much like Hawaii.