Religion in Vermont


Similar to many of the original thirteen colonies, Vermont's early colonial religious scene was dominated by Congregationalists. Sixty-three percent of affiliated church members in Vermont were Congregationalists in 1776, but at that time, as was common in frontier societies, most people were not church members (in Vermont an estimated 9% of people were). Today Congregationalists (as the United Church of Christ) are third largest religious body in the state. Over 4% of the population are claimed by the UCC as members, and the same percentage name Congregationalism or the UCC as their religious preference. Even today, the Congregationalists have more churches than any other denomination (religious body) in the state.

The largest single religious body in Vermont today is the Catholic Church. In 1990 the Catholic Church reported that 25% of Vermont residents were members, but the Kosmin self-identification survey indicated that over 35% consider themselves Catholic. The 10% difference indicates a significant number of state residents who are nominal Catholics not affiliated with a parish.

The United Methodist Church is the second largest church, with about 5% of the population.

The fourth largest church is the Episcopal Church, followed by the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. ("Northern Baptists") and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On a historical note, although Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have never made up a large proportion of Vermont's population, the first two leaders of the church -- Joseph Smith and Brigham Young -- were both born in Vermont. (Today this church is one of the largest American-born religious movements in the world.)

Taken as a whole, Christianity is clearly the largest religion in the state, claimed as the preferred religion by 83% of state residents. Tied as the second largest religions are Judaism and Unitarian Universalists, both of which were claimed by about 1.1% of the population in the 1990 Kosmin survey. A higher proportion of Vermont's Jews than Unitarian Universalists are actually affiliated with congregations (divided among three major branches - Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox).

In 1990 11.4% of state residents described themselves as "nonreligious" and 1.2% said they were agnostic. As a somewhat sparsely populated state without major metropolitan areas, Vermont has not attracted largescale immigration. Hence, major world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are hardly represented in the state.

Vermont Religion Links



Membership of Religious Bodies, Vermont, 1990
(Source: Glenmary Research Institute; ARDA)

DenominationChurchesAdherentsPercent
Catholic 139 143,938 25.58%
United Methodist Church 143 24,578 4.37%
United Church of Christ 148 24,461 4.35%
Episcopal Church 50 9,628 1.71%
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. 63 8,786 1.56%
Judaism 7 4,400 0.78%
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 12 2,855 0.51%
Assemblies of God 18 2,642 0.47%
Lutheran 10 2,152 0.38%
Unitarian/Unitarian Universalist 19 2,056 0.37%
Christian and Missionary Alliance 10 1,706 0.30%
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 7 1,522 0.27%
Congregational Christian Churches - independent 15 1,449 0.26%
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 10 1,031 0.18%
Church of the Nazarene 9 965 0.17%
Seventh-day Adventists 13 822 0.15%
Southern Baptist Convention 12 860 0.15%
Churches of Christ 11 653 0.12%
Christianity - independent churches - charismatic 1 500 0.09%
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod 2 494 0.09%
Quakers 12 438 0.08%
Advent Christian Church 5 399 0.07%
Christian Reformed Church 1 369 0.07%
Evangelical Free Church 5 387 0.07%
Mennonite Church 3 280 0.05%
Baptist - black denominations -- 196 0.03%
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference 1 156 0.03%
Salvation Army 3 143 0.03%
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ 3 138 0.02%
Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) 2 106 0.02%
Congregational Christian Churches, National Association of 2 125 0.02%
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel 3 92 0.02%
Plymouth Brethren 2 100 0.02%
Presbyterian Church in America 1 117 0.02%
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod 1 136 0.02%
Church of God of Prophecy 2 68 0.01%
Free Methodist Church of North America 1 45 0.01%
Wesleyan Church 2 74 0.01%
Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) 1 21 --
Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church 1 15 --
Pentecostal Holiness Church 1 6 --
Christian Science 13 -- --
Conservative Baptist Association of America 3 -- --
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America 2 -- --
Independent Fundamental Churches of America 4 -- --
Orthodox Church in America 1 -- --

Religious Affiliation, Vermont, 1976

Source: Finke, Roger and Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-1990. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press (1992; 3rd printing 1997), pg. 277-281. Table A.1: "Denominational Percentages by Colony, 1776, Based on Number of Congregations"; Total num. of congreg. = 20. An estimated 9% of Vermont citizens were church members in 1976.
DenominationPercent of
Religious Adherents
Percent of
Total Population
Churches
Congregationalist 65.0% 5.9% 13
Baptist 10.0% 0.9% 2
Episcopal Church 10.0% 0.9% 2
Presbyterian 10.0% 0.9% 2
other 5.0% 0.5% 1

Religious Affiliation, Vermont, 1850

Source: Finke, Roger and Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-1990. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press (1992; 3rd printing 1997), pg. 252-288. Table A.2: "Denominational Adherents per 1,000 Population, 1850 "; "The adherence rates were estimated from Bureau of the Census (1854) reports on the number of churches, the seating capacity of churches and the value of church property."
DenominationPercent of
Total Population
affiliated 32.2%
Congregationalist 9.2%
Methodist 8.6%
Baptist 5.6%
Episcopal Church 0.8%
Presbyterian 0.5%
clergy 0.2%

Self-Identified Religious Affiliation, Vermont, 1990

Source: Kosmin, Barry A. and Seymour P. Lachman. One Nation Under God: Religion in Contemporary American Society; Harmony Books: New York (1993). Table 3-1: Religious Composition of State Populations, 1990 (In Percent). Based on self-identification of religious loyalty, using representative sample of 113,000 people in phone interviews, conducted by City University of New York.
DenominationPercent
Christianity* 83.6%
Catholic 36.7%
Protestant - no denomination supplied 17.3%
Nonreligious 11.4%
Methodist 5.6%
Baptist 5.3%
Congregationalist 4.1%
Episcopalian 3.5%
Christianity - no denomination supplied 3.0%
Presbyterian 2.0%
Lutheran 1.3%
Agnostic 1.2%
Church of God - all denominations 1.2%
Seventh-day Adventists 1.2%
Judaism 1.1%
Unitarian/Unitarian Universalist 1.1%
Jehovah's Witnesses 0.6%
Orthodox (Eastern Christian) 0.6%
Church of the Nazarene 0.4%
Pentecostal 0.4%
Mennonite 0.2%
Buddhism 0.0%
Hinduism 0.0%
Islam 0.0%

*Christianity, in the Kosmin study, includes: Assemblies of God, Baptist, Christianity - no denomination supplied, Church of God - all denominations, Church of the Nazarene, Churches of Christ, Congregationalist, Episcopalian, Evangelical/Born Again, Jehovah's Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, Holiness/Holy, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Protestant - no denomination supplied, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventists


Other Vermont Religion Statistics

Group Where Number
of
Adherents
% of
total
pop.
Number
of
congreg./
churches/
units
Number
of
countries
Year Source Quote/
Notes
Christianity - affiliated Vermont 233,000 40.40% -- -- 1990 Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1997, 117th Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce (Oct. 1997), pg. 70. [Original source: M. Bradley; N. Green, Jr.; D. Jones; M. Lynn; and L. McNeil; Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1990. Atlanta, GA: Glenmary Research Center (1992)] Table: "No. 87: Christian Church Adherents, 1990 "; "Christian church adherents were defined as 'all members, including full members, their children and the est. number of other regular participants who are not considered as communicant, confirmed or full members.' "
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Vermont 3,400 0.60% 11
units
-- 1995 Deseret News 1997-98 Church Almanac. Deseret News: Salt Lake City, UT (1996), pg. 188-408. "Year-end 1995: Est. population [of country]; Members, [number shown in '# of adherents' column to left] "
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Vermont 3,500 0.60% 12
units
-- 1997 Deseret News 1999-2000 Church Almanac. Deseret News: Salt Lake City, UT (1998), pg. 170-266. Information from a variety of sources. Figures for year-end 1997.
clergy Vermont -- 0.20% -- -- 1850 Finke, Roger and Rodney Stark. The Churching of America, 1776-1990. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press (1992; 3rd printing 1997), pg. 69. Figure 3.4: "Clergy per 1,000 Population, 1850 "
Fellowship of Christian Assemblies Vermont -- -- 3
units
-- 1998 *LINK* official organization web site counted listings from church directory
Grace Brethren Vermont -- -- 1
unit
-- 1998 *LINK* official organization web site (viewed circa September 1998) directory of churches [Grace Brethren -- historical branch of Schwarzenau Brethren]
Independent Fundamental Churches International Vermont -- -- 3
units
-- 1998 *LINK* official organization web site Counted listings on directory
Judaism Vermont 6,000 1.00% -- -- 1995 Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1997, 117th Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce (Oct. 1997), pg. 70. [original source: American Jewish Year Book. New York, NY: American Jewish Committee (1995)] Table: "No. 87: Christian Church Adherents, 1990, and Jewish Population, 1995 - States "; "The Jewish population includes Jews who define themselves as Jewish by religion as well as those who define themselves as Jewish in cultural terms. Data... based primarily on a compilation of individual estimates made by local Jewish federations. "
Native North Americans Vermont 1,696 0.30% -- -- 1990 Utter, Jack. American Indians: Answers to Today's Questions. Lake Ann, Michigan: National Woodlands Publishing Co. (1993), pg. 18-19. Table: "Indian population in each of the 50 states... "; From 1990 U.S. Census: figures include "Indian and Alaska Native Population [both Aleut and Eskimo].
Neo-Paganism Vermont 2,000 -- -- -- 1992 Berger, Helen A. A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press (1999), pg. 9-10. Table: "Distribution of Neo-Pagans Participating in Neo-Pagan Census in U.S. "; Cols: State; Number [of Census participants]; % [of particpants]; Pg. xvi: "[Received] more than 2,000 responses... survey was distributed through Wiccan and Neo-Pagan organizations..., published in journals,.. Internet [and] at festivals. [unable] to guarantee that the survey was randomly distributed. "; Pg. 10: "...actual % by state are at best an approximation. "; Raw number presented here based on state % from this table, as a portion of estimated 200,000 [1992] U.S. total (pg. 9).; Vermont %: 1 [This means that 1% of the respondents in the Neo-Pagan survey were from Vermont. It does not mean that 1% of the population of Vermont is Neo-Pagan.]
Oneida Community Vermont -- -- 1
unit
-- 1846 Cavendish, Richard (ed.). Man, Myth and Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural (vol. 4). New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp. (1970), pg. 502. Chapter: "Communistic Religious Movements "; author: Bryan Wilson. "After a false start in 1846 at Putney, Vermont, where local hostility drove them out, the Perfectionists who had gathered around Noyes set up a community at Oneida [New York]. "
Oneida Community Vermont -- -- 1
unit
-- 1870 Kephart, William M. and William W. Zellner. Extraordinary Groups: An Examination of Unconventional Life-Styles (5th Ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press (1994), pg. 63. "At one time or another, there were 7 branches, all under the leadership of John Humphrey Noyes. In addition to the main group at Oneida [Oneida Creek, NY], there were smaller branches at Willow Place, New York; Cambridge, Vermont; Newark, New Jersey; Wallingford, Connecticut; New York City; and Putney, Vermont... " [NOTE: These were not necessarily all open at one time.]
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Vermont 743 0.13% 9
units
-- 1995 *LINK* official organization web page: Comparative Statistics; [original source for states pop. data: U.S. Bureau of the Census] Table: "PCUSA Membership by State/Territory -- 1995 "; Columns: "Number of Members ", "Members as a Percent of State Population " and "Number of Congregations "
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Vermont 743 0.13% 9
units
-- 1997 *LINK* official organization web page: Comparative Statistics; [original source for states pop. data: U.S. Bureau of the Census] Table: "PCUSA Membership by State/Territory -- 1997 "; Columns: "Number of Members ", "Members as a Percent of State Population " and "Number of Congregations "
Catholic Vermont 166,000 31.00% -- -- 1989 Greeley, Andrew M. The Catholic Myth: The Behavior and Beliefs of American Catholics. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1990), pg. 112-114. [Original sources: Official Catholic Directory, based on parish-level reporting, and U.S. 1989 Statistical Abstract] Table: "Catholic Population by State "; [Greeley (author) has conduced a somewhat detailed analysis, adding some adjustments to account for statistically observed undercount, plus some other factors.]
Catholic Vermont 147,190 25.10% 93
units
-- 1996 1998 Catholic Almanac: Our Sunday Visitor: USA (1997), pg. 432-437. Tables: "Catholic Population of the United States " and "Percentage of Catholics in Total Population in U.S. ". Figures are as of Jan. 1, 1997.
Unity Church Vermont -- -- 1
unit
-- 1998 *LINK* official organization web site (viewed 1998) Counted the churches in their directory.
Urantia Book Readers, Fellowship of Vermont -- -- 1
unit
-- 1997 *LINK* official organization web site (1998) directory: "1996-1997 International Study Group Directory for readers of The Urantia Book "
Judaism - nondenominational Vermont: Montpelier 320 -- 1
unit
-- 1993 Wertheimer, Jack. A People Divided: Juadism in Contemporary America. New York: Basic Books (A Division of Harper Collins) (1993), pg. 77. "And in Montpelier, Vermont, eighty families practice 'new-age Judaism' in a nondenominational synagogue that functions without a rabbi. "

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This collection and organization of data is copyright © 2001 Adherents.com. Web page created 2 Sept. 1999. Last modified 5 Sept. 2001.