This article was first published in the State of Faith newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Monday night.

I’m lucky to have the opportunity to write lots of different types of stories. I can quickly summarize a breaking news event, dig deeply into an upcoming Supreme Court case or even pen a personal reflection for this newsletter.

But I still make plenty of interesting discoveries each week that never make it into an article, whether because I’m busy or don’t feel like I have quite enough material to work with.

Here are three faith-related nuggets of gold that I stumbled upon lately and wanted to share, despite not having the chance (at least not yet) to work them into a story:

How young Latter-day Saints stand out in research on political affiliation

Amid growing partisan conflict over abortion rights, immigration and other hot-button issues, the idea has taken hold that young Americans are leaving the Republican Party in droves. But the data doesn’t actually bear that out, according to Ryan Burge, a political scientist based at Eastern Illinois University.

In a recent Twitter thread drawing on the Cooperative Election Study, he showed that the opposite is actually true in a variety of major faith groups.

“In 2008, 83% of young Black Protestants were Democrats. That’s down to 63%. Noticeable drops among non-White Catholics and evangelicals. Muslims, too,” Burge wrote.

Where the claim that young Americans are ditching the Republican Party does hold up is among young adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Burge has found that young Latter-day Saints are “significantly less conservative” than older ones and described the change as a “seismic political shift” in a recent Substack post.

“The average younger Mormon is noticeably more moderate today than in 2016,” he wrote.

One key takeaway from a new study on U.S. Latinos and faith

Pew Research Center recently released an in-depth look at the religious lives of U.S. Latinos, and noted that fewer members of this population identify as Catholic today than in the past, while more identify as religiously unaffiliated.

One finding that jumped out at me is the influence birth location appears to have on Hispanic Americans’ ultimate religious beliefs and behaviors.

Pew found that U.S.-born Latinos are nearly twice as likely as foreign-born Latinos to identify as religious unaffiliated (39% vs. 21%).

The surprising states losing the most religious adherents

You may know that states in the Pacific Northwest have fewer religiously active residents than states in the South, and that Catholics are more likely to live in the Northeast than across the West.

But I bet you can’t guess the states that saw the biggest drops in total religious adherents from 2010 to 2020, which Burge recently calculated using county-level data from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Burge determined that losses were mostly concentrated in the Midwest and named Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota as the states seeing the biggest losses. I was surprised by this list, since I would have guessed the biggest religious changes are happening along the East and West coasts.


Fresh off the press

The Supreme Court, the Sabbath and a much-debated piece of civil rights law

Can public school teachers conclude emails to parents with a Bible verse?

How Major League Soccer is supporting Muslim players who fast

Where religious freedom is most under threat around the world


Term of the week: Orthodox Easter

Orthodox Easter, like the Easter most of us celebrate here in the United States, commemorates the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. But it typically falls on a different date, since many branches of Orthodox Christianity use the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian one, according to the BBC.

The two Easters did overlap in 2017 and they will again in 2025, according to USA Today. This year, Orthodox Easter fell on April 16, one week after the Easter celebrated in other churches.

Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter with festive church services, large family meals and special treats, much like other Christians.


What I’m reading ...

A federal death penalty trial will soon begin for the man accused of killing 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018. Robert Bowers had offered to plead guilty and waive his opportunity to appeal in order to avoid the death penalty, but the Justice Department declined, according to The Associated Press. Family members of the victims have been divided over whether a death penalty trial is necessary, the article said.

I’ve often shared my friend Daniel Silliman’s reported news stories in this newsletter and praised his unique article ideas and clever writing. Today, I’m sharing a different kind of piece from him that’s just as worthy of your attention: a column about how access to political and social power can tempt us to abandon our moral beliefs.

Don’t miss my colleague Jay Drew’s profile of Jake Retzlaff, who could be the first Jewish starting quarterback in BYU history.


Odds and ends

Speaking of surprising data, my jaw dropped when I read a new YouGov survey showing that only 31% of American adults admit to hitting the close-the-door button in an elevator when they see or hear a potential passenger approaching. I assumed a much larger share of the population was just as monstrous as me!