What was the religion of colonial Vermont?
Similar to many of the original thirteen colonies, Vermont's early colonial religious scene was dominated by Congregationalists. Sixty-three percent of affiliated church members in Vermont were Congregationalists in 1776, but at that time, as was common in frontier societies, most people were not church members (in Vermont an estimated 9% of people were). Today Congregationalists (as the United Church of Christ) are third largest religious body in the state. Over 4% of the population are claimed by the UCC as members, and the same percentage name Congregationalism or the UCC as their religious preference. Even today, the Congregationalists have more churches than any other denomination (religious body) in the state.
The largest single religious body in Vermont today is the Catholic Church. In 1990 the Catholic Church reported that 25% of Vermont residents were members, but the Kosmin self-identification survey indicated that over 35% consider themselves Catholic. The 10% difference indicates a significant number of state residents who are nominal Catholics not affiliated with a parish.
The United Methodist Church is the second largest church, with about 5% of the population.
The fourth largest church is the Episcopal Church, followed by the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. ("Northern Baptists") and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On a historical note, although Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have never made up a large proportion of Vermont's population, the first two leaders of the church -- Joseph Smith and Brigham Young -- were both born in Vermont. (Today this church is one of the largest American-born religious movements in the world.)
Taken as a whole, Christianity is clearly the largest religion in the state, claimed as the preferred religion by 83% of state residents. Tied as the second largest religions are Judaism and Unitarian Universalists, both of which were claimed by about 1.1% of the population in the 1990 Kosmin survey. A higher proportion of Vermont's Jews than Unitarian Universalists are actually affiliated with congregations (divided among three major branches - Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox).
In 1990 11.4% of state residents described themselves as "nonreligious" and 1.2% said they were agnostic. As a somewhat sparsely populated state without major metropolitan areas, Vermont has not attracted largescale immigration. Hence, major world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are hardly represented in the state.