Poll: Colorado Springs not so religious after all

March 31, 2013
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Colorado Springs finished 134th in a Gallup study of religious fervor in American metropolitan areas — in the bottom third of all cities measured.

While known for conservative politics and the dozens of national religious organizations that call it home, a smaller percentage of Colorado Springs, 35.3 percent, describe themselves as “very religious” than in Greeley, which topped Colorado metropolitan areas with 36.2 percent.

“Colorado Springs has the reputation of being religious,” said Robert Loevy, Colorado College political science professor emeritus. “Those who know the community know it’s not the case.”

Colorado Springs residents were also less religious than citizens of cities including Albuquerque, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Detroit and Kansas City, the Gallup poll found.

The poll, conducted last year from Jan. 2 to Dec. 29, surveyed 244,917 Americans about their religious beliefs. In Colorado Springs, 967 people were polled, with 35.3 percent saying they were “very religious”, 28 percent calling themselves “moderately religious,” and 39.3 percent — the largest group — calling themselves “not religious.”

Colorado Springs has long been known as a hotbed of GOP politics, a bent often closely associated with religious fervor, Loevy said.

And Colorado Springs is home to religious organizations known around the nation and world including Focus on the Family, Loevy said.

He said the city pursued bringing faith organizations to the region like it does other potential job creators, he said.

“The fact that the Olympic center is here doesn’t mean everyone here is a great athlete,” Loevy said.

Colorado Springs is home to an estimated 426,000 people and, in a population that size, the presence of religious organizations does not have that great of an impact, Loevy said.

Provo-Orem in Utah topped the list for religious leanings, with 77.2 percent of residents polled calling themselves highly religious. Many other communities in the top third of Gallup’s list are in the south.

Denver-Aurora and Fort Collins-Loveland were further down than Colorado Springs on the list. Boulder was a close second for the title of least religious city in the country, according to the poll.

Just 17.3 percent of Boulder residents are classified as “very religious” — 0.1 percent more than Burlington, Vt. A bit more than 61 percent of residents polled are “not religious.”

Overall, 40 percent of Americans are very religious, Gallup found. Those in that category said religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services almost every week. Thirty-one percent of Americans were nonreligious, saying religion did not play an important part in their lives, Gallup found. The remaining 29 were in the middle.

“Colorado Springs is pretty average,” Loevy said.

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