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Some notes on Easter and religion as we begin the holiday

(Editor’s note: This is a reprint of a commentary I posted last Easter.)

–West Virginians are among the most religious of any state’s population, but not the most religious. World Population Review reports that Alabama is at the top of the list with 77 percent of adults who say they are religious. West Virginia is seventh at 69 percent. The New England states of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are among the least religious states.

–The largest plurality of Christians in West Virginia—39 percent—is evangelical protestant. Twenty-nine percent identify as mainline Protestant. Six percent are Catholic. Two percent are historically Black Protestant, and another two percent are Mormon. West Virginia has a small Jewish population, only about 2,500.

–We are approaching holy time for Jews as well. Passover began at sunset on April 22nd and ends at sundown on April 30th.  The holiday is a festival of freedom commemorating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt.

–Pew Research finds that, globally, Christianity is the most popular religion with an estimated 2.4 billion adherents, representing 31 percent of the world’s population. Islam is next at 25 percent and 1.9 billion followers. Sixteen percent of adults around the globe describe themselves as secular, not religious, agnostic or atheist. Just so you know, about 600-thousand individuals are Rastafarians.

–The Easter bunny, colored eggs and candy represent the secular side of Easter. The tradition began in this country with German immigrants in the 1700s who brought to this country their stories of a rabbit that laid eggs.

–According to Marshall University research, “The first churches west of the Blue Ridge Mountains are said to have been a Presbyterian and a Baptist church in Berkeley County in the eastern panhandle.” Harpers Ferry is home to one of the oldest Catholic churches in the state. St. Peters was dedicated in 1833 and escaped serious damage during the Civil War by flying a flag indicating its neutrality.

–The “Our Lady of the Pines” Catholic church at Silver Lake in Preston County lays claim to the smallest church in the country.  It seats 12 people and the exterior measures just 24 feet by 12 feet. There is debate over whether it actually is the smallest church, but it is certainly worth a visit when traveling through the area.

–Every Christian knows there are many Bible verses about the Easter story and the resurrection. One of the most common is the simple phrase from Matthew 28:6, “He is risen.”

Happy Easter!



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