How religious are Minnesotans?

Friday is Christmas, when Christians celebrate the birth Jesus Christ, who you probably recognize as this hipster-looking fellow, but actually, according to science, looked more like this guy.

In honor of the holiday, we’re diving into all things religion in Minnesota.

As it turns out, we’re losing our faith pretty quickly here. From 2007 to 2014, the percentage of adult Minnesotans who say they don’t believe in God jumped from 3 to 9, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. That puts us right up there with the percentage of non-believers nationally.

Twenty-six percent said religion was either “not too important” or “not at all important,” according to the study. Only 34 percent attend church every week and 29 percent of adults say they seldom or never pray. 

Slightly more than half of survey responders say they believe in hell and 71 percent say heaven is real.

Percent of Minnesotans who…
The margin of error for the 2014 survey is ±4.9 percentage points.

As a state, we’re split on how mankind came to be. About one-third of the population believes in evolution by natural processes — i.e. Darwin’s theory of natural selection — while 22 percent say God guided the evolution of mankind. Another one-third say evolution is a bunch of malarkey.

Minnesotan religious belief, 2014

Statewide, Christianity is by far the most predominant religion, with about 74 percent of residents subscribing to it in some form, according to the Pew data. The most common type of Christianity is Protestant; 50 percent of Minnesotans claim mainline, evangelical or black sects of the religion. Catholicism comes second, with 22 percent of Minnesotans counting themselves as disciples. This is also comparable to national stats: about 71 percent claim Christianity, with roughly 46 percent Protestant and 21 percent Catholic.

Minnesotan Christian denominations, 2014

About 20 percent of Minnesotans surveyed by Pew say they are unaffiliated with any school of religion. Seven percent identified as Atheist or Agnostic and 13 percent said they believed in “nothing in particular” religiously.  Only about five percent of Minnesotans claim non-Christian faith, such as Judaism, Muslim or Buddhist.

Random Acts of Data is an occasional series by MinnPost reporter Andy Mannix and news editor Tom Nehil. The goal: to answer questions about all things Minnesota using the vast amount of data at our disposal. If you have a question you’re wondering about, send an email to with the subject line, “Random Acts of Data.”

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/24/2015 - 10:54 am.

    Nicely done

    …though the “according to science” portrait of Jesus will offend quite a few of my acquaintances, here and elsewhere in the country.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/24/2015 - 12:10 pm.

      For good reason

      There’s no way for “scientists” to know what Jesus’ face looked like unless they had a skull to work with and of course they don’t. So that face is just as accurate a depiction as the face of any male Semite from that era and I doubt if they all looked alike.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 12/24/2015 - 11:34 am.

    The city of churches

    St. Paul has been called the “city of churches” and for good reason.

    On the block where I grew up, there was a synagogue directly across the street from us and another synagogue on the north-east corner of the block.

    One block east was a Unitarian church and one block south was a Presbyterian church, and one block west was a Greek Orthodox church.

    But here’s what many people find amazing: I attended public schools in what was considered the Rondo neighborhood. On Tuesday mornings all the kids attended “religious instruction” at a neighborhood church. I attended at the St. James AME church. Their choir director was also the choir director at my junior high school (Marshall Jr. High) and the songs we sang at our school programs were right from his Sunday selections.

    When I sang in the high school choir, our choir director was also a church choir director and most of our repertoire was sacred music. We finished third in the state competition singing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah and the public school audience actually stood (which is the tradition) during our performance.

    You’d never see that today, obviously.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/25/2015 - 04:15 pm.


      “You’d never see that today, obviously.”

      Thank god for that, if you’ll pardon the pun! The last thing the world needs is more religious indoctrination, let alone efforts to blur the line between church and state. The world could use a good healthy dose of reason and logic over mysticism and faith right about now.

Leave a Reply