As the scrutiny of Palin's religious views begins in earnest–here's CNN's take on Anderson Cooper last night–it's important to understand the Alaska context in which evangelicals like her operate. Alaskans may seem like rednecks in mukluks, but religiously they are a much better fit with the rest of the Pacific Northwest than with the redneck South. Their rate of religious affiliation is low. According to the North American Religion Atlas (data base developed by the Polis Center as part of the Greenberg Center's regions project), 60.2 percent of Alaskans are religiously unaffiliated or uncounted, putting them in close proximity to Washingtonians (62 percent) and Oregonians (65 percent) but far away from, say, Oklahomans (30 percent). And whereas over half the population of Oklahoma is affiliated with an evangelical church, in Alaska less than 15 percent are.
What this means is that Alaska's evangelicals constitute a distinct subculture if not the kind of self-conscious counterculture that ...1