RELIGION OF ALASKA

St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska

Alaska has been identified, along with Pacific Northwest states Washington and Oregon, as being the least religious in the U.S. According to statistics collected by the Association of Religion Data Archives, about 39% of Alaska residents were members of religious congregations. Evangelical Protestants had 78,070 members, Roman Catholics had 54,359, and mainline Protestants had 37,156. After Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, the largest single denominations are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons/LDS) with 29,460, Southern Baptists with 22,959, and Orthodox with 20,000. The large Eastern Orthodox (with 49 parishes and up to 50,000 followers) population is a result of early Russian colonization and missionary work among Alaska Natives. In 1795, the First Russian Orthodox Church was established in Kodiak. Intermarriage with Alaskan Natives helped the Russian immigrants integrate into society. As a result, more and more Russian Orthodox churches gradually became established within Alaska. Alaska also has the largest Quaker population (by percentage) of any state. In 2003 there were 3,000 Jews in Alaska (for whom observance of the mitzvah may pose special problems). Estimates for the number of Alaskan Muslims range from 2,000 to 5,000. Alaskan Hindus often share venues and celebrations with members of other religious communities including Sikhs and Jains.

Luciano Mende

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