New religious movements in the Pacific Northwest

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New religious movements in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States have a history going back to the 19th century.


Although the Pacific Northwest is often listed as the least churched part of the United States,[1][2] some researchers have found the region to be strong in the "secular but spiritual" category.[3] Sociologist Mark Shibley has identified several modes of expression of those who identify as "secular but spiritual" in the Pacific Northwest, including New Age, earth-based and pagan practices, and nature religion. Shibley notes daily practice of nature religion in environmentalism, deep ecology and wilderness preservation, and finds the dominant dimension of Pacific Northwest life to be how the people relate to the landscape.[4] Other academics have found "episodic public life in ethically charged matters" to be a characteristic of Northwestern religious sensibility.[5]

Religious expression in the Pacific Northwest has been called, unlike most of the United States, "never ... a 'Christian culture' ...[but] a diverse marketplace of spiritualties including varieties of New Age, neo-paganism, Gaia worship, channeling, metaphysics, holistic health, earth-based spiritualties, Nordic spiritualties, Wicca, meditation centres, astrologers, and westernized forms of Buddhism and yoga."[6]

Movements founded in the Northwest[edit]

New religious movements founded in the region include:


People who don't express any religious affiliation, called "nones" by experts like Elizabeth Drescher,[9] make up a larger percentage of the population in the Northwest more than in any other part of the United States.[10] Drescher, a professor at Santa Clara University's Department of Religious Studies, calls the entire Pacific Northwest a "none zone".[9] Susanna Morrill, a scholar of religion at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, called some Northwesterners' expression "experiencing the natural world in a way that feels supernatural".[11] If counted as a religious group, the "nones" in the Northwest would outnumber the next largest group, Roman Catholics, by more than two to one.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest". Archived from the original on 2011-05-11. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  2. ^ "Charting the unchurched in America". USA Today. March 7, 2002. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ Knute Berger (November 20, 2008), "Is Northwest nature worship neurological?", Crosscut 
  4. ^ Couch, Larson Caesar, Maier, Norlie, Rosenberg, Wagner, Wilson (2009), Secular but Spiritual in the Pacific Northwest (PDF), Luther House (Lutheran Campus Ministry at Oregon State University) 
  5. ^ Barry Alexander Kosmin, Ariela Keysar (2007), Secularism & Secularity: Contemporary International Perspectives, Hartford, Conn.: Trinity College Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture, ISBN 9780979481604 
  6. ^ A postcard from the Pacific Northwest–What does the future hold for secularism in the West? Matthew Kaemingk, Fall 2014 Comment magazine
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Seth Goodkind (June 2, 2015), "Predators & Prophets: A Comic History of Pacific Northwest Cults—Spiritually-motivated bioterrorism at Taco Time, 35 thousand year old Lemurian warrior gods in Yelm, LSD-fueled Queen Anne hippie cults, and much more.", Seattle Weekly 
  8. ^ Johnson, Jessica (2018), "Setting and fieldwork: Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church", Biblical Porn: Affect, Labor, and Pastor Mark Driscoll's Evangelical Empire, Duke University Press, ISBN 978-0-8223-7136-6 
  9. ^ a b Elizabeth Drescher (2016), Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America's Nones, Oxford University Press, p. 18, ISBN 9780199341221 
  10. ^ Matthew Kaemingk (October 25, 2013), "Pacific Northwest Religion: Doing It Different, Doing It Alone Part I (An interview with a scholar of Cascadian spirituality and religion)", Christ and Cascadia 
  11. ^ Melissa Binder (August 14, 2015), "Where the religious 'nones' roam: Does nature religion explain Pacific Northwest spirituality?", The Oregonian 
  12. ^ Mark Shibley (2004), "Secular but Spiritual in the Pacific Northwest", Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone, by Patricia O'Connell Killen; Mark Shibley; Dale Soden; James Wellman; Lance Laird, Patricia O'Connell Killen and Mark Silk, eds., AltaMira, p. 140, ISBN 978-0-7591-0624-6 

Further reading[edit]

  • Todd, Douglas, ed. (2008), Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia: Exploring the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest, Ronsdale Press, ISBN 9781553800606, OCLC 879869870