“Pray that the watching non-Christian world would not be given the opportunity to discredit not only our church but the very gospel of Jesus."
Cascadia is the largest of the few places in the United States that this is true. That the majority and mainstream is unchurched. Or, more importantly, don't consider faith, specifically often Jesus, to be an important cultural touchstone.
So, up here, if you are religious, if you attend church every week and consider it to be an important part of your social and cultural life, you are separating yourself from the pack.
Most importantly isn't just that Cascadia is unchurched, but that those that are churched, are separated from each other because our corresponding high level of religious diversity. Even if you lumped together all of the particular evangelical protestant sects, you would only come up with 25 percent of the 42 percent that consider themselves anything at all.
So, the Mars Hill leaders really are right, the big wide world out there in Cascadia is non-Christian and also non-church.
But, even thought it is pretty unique to here that we don't use religion as a cultural touchstone, we are not without important and almost universal cultural references. Generally speaking, these have often come up when a sports team is good.
In the mid-90s, we were all Mariners fans. Before that, it was the Huskies. These phenomena reach across Cascadia, seemingly uniting a disparate population. But, uniting behind what? That a team is good, the team is from here, we should root for them.
Matthew Kaemingk writing at Christ and Cascadia I think answers it best:
The Pacific Northwest has not “grown out” of religion, Cascadians have simply transferred their religiosity to what the sociologist Meerten Ter Borg calls “disembedded religion” or “secular spirituality.” Broken free from religious institutions, structures, rules, and creeds this “disembedded religion” is an anti-institutional form of spirituality that seeks powerful aesthetic experiences.Matt's right, Cascadia didn't grow out of religion, it was in fact never religious ever in its non-native history. And, he hits the nail on the head when he lists "structures, rules and creeds." This is exactly why the Seahawks (when they're good and attractive) are an overwhelming universal force, because literally anyone can like them.
There is nothing special you need to do. You don't need to change your political beliefs, the books you read or take an oath. You don't need to get new friends, dress differently (in large part) or change your life at all. You just need to care whether a team wins. Deeper social, political or cultural values never come up.
A pro-choice, atheist, progressive, Seattle resident can sit next to a pro-life, Christian, conservative Duval resident at a Seahawks game and nothing much in the descriptions of each other would matter.
But, that is not how church is in Cascadia. It has a much more deeper meaning. And, because religion is so fractured here, very specific things like creed, political belief and possibly what you wear really does come to mattering. And, if you are religious, it absolutely should matter.