Pass the syrup, but religion gets sticky in Vermont

Pass the syrup, but religion gets sticky: Faithful persevere in secular Vermont (reporting from Springfield, Vt.). Page 1 lead.

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Folks in the Green Mountain State like their economy syrupy sweet.

The rural, thickly forested New England state produces 39 percent of the United States’ maple syrup.

The state’s 626,000 residents are less sweet on religion: Vermont ranks as the nation’s most secular state, according to a 2012 Gallup poll.

Just 23 percent of Vermonters characterize themselves as “very religious,” while 58 percent say they are “nonreligious.”

“As soon as you say church, people here don’t want anything to do with it,” said Gabriel Nelson, a deacon for the Springfield Church of Christ in the state’s southeast corner. “They just have this impression that Christians are these Bible-thumping crazy people.”

In one of the bluest of the blue states, believers with a theologically conservative understanding of the Bible’s teachings face a challenge converting friends and neighbors.

Most Church of Christ members in the U.S. reside in a red state. National.

One church’s vote for Jesus: In shadow of nation’s capital, a growing congregation invokes a ‘politics-free zone’ (reporting from Laurel, Md.). Churches That Work.

Harding selects Bruce McLarty as next president. Second Front.

Ten heavenly interviews I’d love to snag. Inside Story.

2012: The year in quotes. Voices.

This post highlights my stories in the January 2013 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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