Numbers don't lie

These maps show the most common religions, Christian and non-Christian, in your state

June 24, 2014

Christianity is the biggest religion in every U.S. state — but you already knew that. The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies digs a little deeper, reporting which Christian denomination is the largest, and how many adherents each religion has, in each U.S. county.

The most recent U.S. Religion Census was actually released two years ago, based on 2010 data — there has been a religion census conducted every decade since 1980 in the same year as the U.S. census — but the 2010 ASARB maps recently resurfaced in the map-crazy dataphilic media. Here is the big look at which Christian sect is the biggest in your area:

Catholicism (purple) dominates much of the map, except for the South, where the Southern Baptists (red) hold sway. Mormonism (gray) is big in the Mountain West, and Lutherans (orange) and Methodists (green) have sizable pockets in the Midwest and Northeast. Probably more interesting is the ASARB's depiction of which non-Christian religion is the biggest in each state:

According to the map, Buddhism (yellow) is (relatively) big out West, Islam (light blue) is bigger than you might think in the Midwest and South, Judaism (pink) has its stronghold in the Northeast and pockets of the Midwest, Hinduism (dark orange) is surprisingly prevalent in Arizona and Delaware, and South Carolina has a vibrant Baha'i community (green). "Let's acknowledge at the outset that it doesn't take very much to be the second-largest religion in South Carolina," Baha'i historian Louis E. Venters tells NPR.

Hillary Kaell, a specialist in North American Christianity at Montreal's Concordia University, hits the same cautionary note: "These numbers, although they look impressive when laid out in the map, represent a very tiny fraction of the population in any of the states listed." Still, interesting.

football follies

Bill Belichick addresses Deflategate: 'I'm not a scientist, and I'm not a league official'

January 24, 2015
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Bill Belichick spoke after the New England Patriots' practice on Saturday, saying the team had conducted an internal study on how footballs used in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts might have become deflated.

The short explanation? Science.

The Pats' head coach suggested that "atmospheric conditions" could have affected the footballs' air pressure, so that while the footballs were initially set to a proper 12.5 PSI, they eventually "adjusted to climatic conditions and...reached an equilibrium state" lower than originally set. Belichick said that he and other team officials had spoken to "a lot of people," and that they learned that while a football's texture is easy to identify, the pressure is "a whole different story."

Belichick again reiterated that the Patriots delivered footballs to the officiating crew that had been set to the proper PSI, and he lamented spending the week before the Super Bowl answering inquries about the controversy.

"I'm not a scientist, and I'm not a league official," he said. "(But) we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter."

This just in

Pro-Russian militants attack key Ukrainian port, officials say at least 30 dead

January 24, 2015
AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov

Having rejected further peace talks on Friday, pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine launched a new offensive a day later, attacking the country's strategic port of Mariupol, Reuters reports.

Mariupol city officials said at least 30 people were killed and more than 80 were injured in the Saturday clashes. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered an emergency security council meeting, to be held on Sunday.

"We are for peace, but we accept the challenge of the enemy," Poroshenko said. "We will protect our motherland."

The European Union's foreign policy chief called openly on Russia to use its "considerable influence over separatist leaders," to halt the offensives; Moscow has continued to deny that it is supporting the rebels.

Under the sea

Researchers discover fish living under a half-mile of Antarctic ice

January 24, 2015

And you thought your home got chilly in the winter.

Researchers have discovered fish and other invertebrates living deep below Antarctic ice sheets, NBC News reports.


Scientists with the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling — or delightful acronym WISSARD — discovered the fish earlier this month while exploring Antarctica's western "grounding zone." Land, ice, and sea all converge at this area of the continent; the researchers are the first to drill below the Ross Ice Shelf and actually sample the grounding zone.

The researchers said they will study further how the fish are able to survive in such extreme conditions — the discovery marks the closest to the South Pole that marine life has been found.

Oscars Watch

American Sniper sets record for widest release of an R-rated movie

January 24, 2015 Sniper

American Sniper is setting "records on top of records," according to Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Dan Fellman.

His assessment is not pure hyperbole, CNNMoney notes; the film, which grossed $105 million on its opening weekend, has set a record for the "widest release ever for an R-rated movie." American Sniper expanded by 150 screens this weekend — it is now showing on 3,705 screens in the U.S., total.

The movie has also broken records for "best opening for a movie based on a book," "largest MLK opening weekend ever," and "largest drama opening weekend ever," according to Fellman. Nominated for a best picture Academy Award, the film stars Bradley Cooper — who is up for a best actor Academy Award for the role — as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.

2016 Watch

Sarah Palin is 'seriously interested' in running for president

January 24, 2015
Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

The potential field of Republicans with an eye toward the 2016 presidential nomination may be expanding further. Sarah Palin told The Washington Post on Friday that she is "seriously interested" in running for president.

"Who wouldn't be interested?" Palin asked. "Who wouldn't be interested when they have been blessed with opportunities to speak about what is important to this country and for this country?"

Alaska's former governor made the comments before addressing activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The GOP's 2008 vice-presidential nominee said she won't rush to make a decision, because making an official, public announcement is a "significant step."


Watch White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest get in on the Deflategate fun

January 24, 2015

If you didn't watch Tom Brady's press conference about Deflategate, well, you can check out a supercut of the New England Patriots quarterback talking about his deflated balls here.

The lack of skillful sidestepping was noticed by many, including White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

"The one thing I can tell you is that for years it's been clear that there was no risk that I was going to take Tom Brady's job as quarterback of the New England Patriots," Earnest said when asked about the controversy during a Friday press conference. "But I can tell you that as of today, it's pretty clear that there's no risk of him taking my job, either."

Is this the best burn in the history of burns? No, but White House press secretaries don't get to let loose very often, so let's give Earnest this one.

"That was kind of fun, right?" he asks, grinning from ear to ear.

Yes, Earnest, yes it was. —Sarah Eberspacher

This just in

Japan investigating ISIS video that claims one hostage has been killed

January 24, 2015
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

A new video released by Islamic State militants claims that one of two Japanese hostages being held by the group has been killed. Japanese officials are investigating the validity of the message, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his country's demand for the hostages' "immediate release" on Saturday, The Associated Press reports.

ISIS threatened on Tuesday to behead the hostages unless the group received $200 million in ransom. Japan has not commented on whether it is considering paying the ransom for Kenji Goto, a 47-year-old journalist, and Haruna Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer.

Foreign affairs

Egyptian court orders retrial for 37 Muslim Brotherhood members sentenced to death

January 24, 2015
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An Egyptian court ordered on Saturday that 37 Muslim Brotherhood members sentenced to death, along with 115 others sentenced to life in prison, should be retried following a swift mass trial last year, Reuters reports. 

The March 2014 trial lasted just a few days and tried more than 500 defendants, some in absentia. It gained widespread criticism from Western countries.

The 152 slated to stand retrial again face charges that they attacked government forces trying to clear out two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in August 2013, as Brotherhood members demonstrated against President Mohamed Mursi's ousting by the military. The clashes left several hundred dead.

Let's play two

Remembering 'Mr. Cub' Ernie Banks

January 24, 2015

Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs' famed slugger and eventual Hall of Famer, died on Friday night. He was 83 years old, The Associated Press reports.

Banks, who began his career in the Negro Leagues playing for the Kansas City Monarchs, made his MLB debut in 1953 and played 19 seasons, racking up 512 home runs and twice landing the league's MVP award. Despite his personal accomplishments, Banks played for a string of Cubs teams that finished below .500, and he never reached the postseason.

Still, Banks was known for his sunny outlook; his catchphrase — "It's a great day for baseball. Let's play two." — is written on his statue outside Wrigley Field.

Revisit Banks' career highlights in a lovely 2014 retrospective from the Chicago Tribune's video department, below. —Sarah Eberspacher

This just in

Obama to cut India trip short to visit Saudi Arabia

January 24, 2015
Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama will cancel the end of his itinerary in India, opting instead to fly to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and pay his respects to the late King Abdullah's family, White House officials told The New York Times on Saturday.

Obama left Washington on Saturday morning for his second presidential trip to India, and he was originally scheduled to visit the country's iconic Taj Mahal on Tuesday. He will still serve as India's chief guest at Monday's Republic Day celebration — a first for an American leader — and meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Vice President Joe Biden was originally going to lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia, but White House officials said they changed the plan when it was decided that Obama could attend himself. The Times notes that Obama has not often made trips to pay respects to families of deceased leaders in other countries; one notable exception was in 2013, when Obama attended former South Africa president Nelson Mandela's state memorial.

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