The most SBNR state in the Union


It’s the first full day of spring and so it’s the start of “mud season” in Vermont. To celebrate we note that once again, the Gallup Poll has declared Vermont as the least religious in the nation. But might that make it be the most spiritual state in the country?

Jay Parini says that “God-hunger” is alive and thriving in the Green Mountain State, just not in the way we usually think.


On any given Sunday, while I’m sitting in church, many of my neighbors are out walking in the woods, skiing, or reading a book by the woodstove (it’s what we do in Vermont). Indeed traditional churches in Vermont struggle to fill their pews, and one often sees churches being sold off to real estate developers, who convert them into apartments or places where secular business can take place under high ceilings that once filled with prayers.

…when I step into my local co-operative food store in Vermont, the bulletin board is crammed with listings for local meditation groups or yoga classes or panel discussions on “spirit and nature.” The community spirit is strong in this state, and the value of helping one’s neighbor is cherished here as much as anywhere. And these values include things like spending money on education, on good health care for all, and making sure that the land itself is responsibly used, with a keen awareness of environmental consequences. Indeed, Vermont was chosen the No. 1 greenest state in a recent poll….

…Yet many of the traditional churches — in Vermont as elsewhere — fail to address questions of spirituality in ways that interest those who might have a deep spiritual longing but can’t profess a simple faith in God or subscribe to any dogma


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Harriet Baber
Harriet Baber

So why don't churches post on the bulletin board of that co-op food store? Because they assume that the sort of people who shop there, the cool people, wouldn't be interested? Because they've just given up? And why don't churches have discussions, and meditation sessions, and post notices of them? Why don't you do this stuff? WHY!

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