People often ask me, “I’ve heard Las Vegas has more churches per capita than any other city, is that true?” I tell them, “No, absolutely not.”
In the “Ask a Native” section of Vegas’ Seven Magazine this week someone asked that exact question, and here’s the answer:
Maybe back when the population was about 100,000. Or maybe if you included every licensed wedding chapel. Maybe if you squinted, you’d believe what likely began as a little white public relations lie and morphed into an oft-repeated myth. But it’s certainly not true today. New Orleans was the first city I semi-randomly compared (2012 data); it has about one church to every 500 residents, more than double that of Las Vegas. End of story.
The reality is that we have less churches per capita than most cities. And the closer you get to the Strip, the fewer you’ll find. When we started Verve three years ago the population of our five-mile radius was 270,000 and there were eleven churches in that five-mile radius. By comparison, Lexington, Kentucky and St. Paul, Minnesota have 270,000 in their entire cities, and Lexington has 450 churches, and St. Paul has 650. And the percentage of people who go to church in Las Vegas? Right about 5%. That means close to 1.9 million of Vegas’ 2 million people don’t go to church.
End of story.