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Cars and Religion - Somthing I've been wondering about . . .


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I was looking around at the cars in our church parking lot a couple of weeks ago and noticed things had changed over the last few years. So, I looked at the cars in the parking lot of the church at which my son sings (which is a different denomination from ours) and noticed the types of cars there were different from what I saw in our own church lot.

 

And I got to wondering whether there are any patterns than can be teased out regarding what types of cars are most commonly driven by folks of different religious persuasions.

 

I've spent a couple of weeks trying to think of some elegant way to address this, but have finally decided I'm just going to ask all those who are willing to share to post what denomination they attend, what kind of vehicle they drive and what types of vehicles are most prevalent in the parking lot of their houses of worship. (Oh, and I'd love it if those who don't attend anywhere would post that, too.)

 

Thanks in advance! I'll happily share whatever correlations we come up with once we've got a nice chunk of answers.

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I have never thought of there being a correlation between church denomination and the car you drive.

 

Anyway, I'm Catholic and am a member of a very large parish. I see everything from expensive SUV's and a few Mercedes to the old, beat up car that barely makes it. Mostly, it just average - nothing that stands out to me. We drive a '98 Ford Windstar when all the kids are going, or else it's a '96 Saturn 4 door. Neither of our cars are out of place in our church parking lot; they fit in very well.

 

Janet

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I attend a UCC church and off the top of my head I would say most of the cars in our lot are SUVs, with a few station wagons and a Prius or two thrown in.

 

I would expect a similar mix in almost every parking lot in town, church or non-church. We live in a mountainous, ski resort town with a lot of dirt roads and privately owned (and privately maintained) roads. Snow clearance and 4WD are important.

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I was looking around at the cars in our church parking lot a couple of weeks ago and noticed things had changed over the last few years. So, I looked at the cars in the parking lot of the church at which my son sings (which is a different denomination from ours) and noticed the types of cars there were different from what I saw in our own church lot.

 

And I got to wondering whether there are any patterns than can be teased out regarding what types of cars are most commonly driven by folks of different religious persuasions.

 

I've spent a couple of weeks trying to think of some elegant way to address this, but have finally decided I'm just going to ask all those who are willing to share to post what denomination they attend, what kind of vehicle they drive and what types of vehicles are most prevalent in the parking lot of their houses of worship. (Oh, and I'd love it if those who don't attend anywhere would post that, too.)

 

Thanks in advance! I'll happily share whatever correlations we come up with once we've got a nice chunk of answers.

 

At the churches I've attended, I have found it is more a function of family size than anything else. And certainly THAT might have a religious basis, but doesn't always.

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And I got to wondering whether there are any patterns than can be teased out regarding what types of cars are most commonly driven by folks of different religious persuasions.

 

LOL. I don't think I've noticed that in the past except this one church in Louisiana which dictated what cars people could purchase (along with requiring pay stubs with tithes). Their opinion was that if you were truly Christian, you'd be prosperous in EVERY way, including monetarily, and you should show that in what you drive, where you live, etc.

 

 

a Jehova's Witness church (I don't know the proper name)

 

Kingdom Hall :)

 

Well, I will say that I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses and that NO ONE has a 2 door car. LOL Actually, my teen daughter does but once she's driving alone, she will not be allowed to drive with anyone else in the car anyway, so it will work. I know she has every intention on getting a mid to large 4-door by the time she's an adult though she said she could just take my mini-van (then *I* could go get a nice 4-door :D)

 

Anyway, this, I'm sure makes sense as Witnesses generally go out 1-5 times per week talking to people in their area. Our car groups are generally 4 to 8 people depending on whether we're in a car, van, SUV, etc and how many people there are to split up when we meet.

 

I would GUESS that most of the cars, though possibly larger than average, are better known for better gas mileage for their size.

Edited by 2J5M9K
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Funny, never thought of it that way.

 

I'm United Methodist and we are an eclectic lot, as in parking lot. Lots of SUV's, van's but also many high price sedans. We go from SUV to two seater convertible. I would definitely say, with a few exceptions, our lot is upper end of average price though.

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Dh and I don't attend any church and although we were raised Catholic and converted to Luthernism a few years ago we now claim no religion (I won't get into that here, but if anyone's interested please feel free to ask) I drive a Town and Country minivan, because that's all we'll fit in other than a large SUV and we couldn't afford one of those at the time. I have 3 kids and 2 dogs and we move quite often (military family). My dh drives a Honda civic hybrid which I also use when I'm out without the kids.

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I drive a T&C minivan too, but we attend a Baptist Church. My husband drives a Chevy Suburban. Our church has a mix of cars because we not only have a lot of families that attend (thus the minivans & SUVs), but we also have a large college ministry (800+ students that drive sedans & trucks).

 

As my boys are getting older and out of the car seat phase, I'm hoping to purchase a used Volvo wagon this time next year; I'm really tired of driving a minivan.

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While I hadn't specifically noticed the kind of cars in the parking lot, I do think people are attracted to a specific church where they feel like they "belong."

 

I don't think it always has to do with the particular denomination/religion, but I think it would be natural that in their differences they would attract different types of people. If you were a multibillionare, you probably wouldn't feel comfortable, or really relate to those who were barely scraping by, and vice-versa. You would look for a church where you could relate to those around you, and the kind of environment where you felt comfortable and accepted.

 

Some people attend church because it is expected, some for purely social reasons. There are those who are seeking absolution, and those who are seeking a way to minister to others. Some attend because they hunger for a deeper understanding of God's word, some because they are simply curious. Whatever their reasons, they're going to find a place that suits their particular need, and they can find others who can relate to them.

 

Individual churches within the same religion or denomination can also be drastically different. If a church leader (Pastor/Priest/Rabbi) has a heart to reach out to those in need, or who are struggling with drug addiction, or other similar issues. It is natural that the church would then attract those who are similarly drawn, outreach programs would be a natural result, and those brought into the church would be those who have a similar desire for ministering to those groups, or those who have been ministered to by the church. In the same way, a church leader whose focus is on the intellectual study, and further discussion of the finer points of theology will be attracting those who are similarly interested. A church focused on reaching out to families and with a wide variety of childrens' programs will probably attract those in a certain age group, and the parking lot will contain more than a few minivans.

 

So while I think you can find some churches out there that have a wide and varied mix of cars in the parking lot, generally birds of a feather flock together... so it's natural that the parking lots will reflect the similarity of the worshippers/attendees.

 

People want to be where they fit in... even at church.

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We attend a family-integrated church, where a large number of families have a large number of children. The parking lot is full of 15 passenger vans, Chevy suburbans and a few minivans!

 

ETA: As far as religion/denomination, it would be considered a non-denominational church.

Edited by AuntieM
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I think it has less to do with our denomination and more to do with the area:)

 

I am Christian we attend a non-denominational church and there are mostly SUV's , Mini-Vans, and newer Sedans. We have a 2004 Ford extra-cab pick up for dh's personal car, and I drive a 2005 KIA Mini-Van. My dh's company car is an 2006 Escalade.

 

Where we live I know of people, (one family member) losing homes in the 400,000-750,000 range but they still have nice cars sitting in the church parking lot:001_huh:

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I'm in an urban area and our church (Catholic) doesn't have a parking lot. (Well, a tiny one for the priests.) In terms of the cars jammed in the side streets around the church on Sunday morning, there's a little bit of everything. But the sample would be skewed by the fact that this is a Canadian urban population so we have a lot of walkers, bikers, and older and/or smaller cars than anything I saw in our suburban Atlanta parking lot in our former parish. Very few SUVs or larger vehicles.

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The last time I was at church (UU), there were about 8 Prius' in the lot, and it's not a big church, with a lot of middle age and older people. The families have wagons- Subarus, a couple of Volvo wagons, some ancient, with bumper stickers holding them together, and a couple of minivans (that's what I drive). One couple has an older Mercedes (maybe it's not older...it looks good, but they seem to have had it awhile) . Some of the younger people have older cars that are barely hanging on.

Edited by LibraryLover
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We are Catholic and we have a wide variety - pretty much a reflection of what you see on the road. The relative wealth of the surrounding community is the major factor. Our parish encompasses some affluent areas as well as some Section 8 housing, but mostly middle to upper middle class. We have beaters as well as a Lexus or Mercedes or a Prius here and there. Predominantly minvans.

 

I have, however, noticed in some other denominations, the parking lot can be very telling. Some lots have a much greater concentration of expensive cars and some have more "economy" models - economy not necessarily being the vehicle class, but a reflection of the purchase price/age of vehicle:).

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We have a home Bible fellowship. We have a 1999 Suburban bought new in 2000 which we haven't driven for two years now and are currently trying to sell now that gas prices have dropped enough where someone might consider buying such a beast. We've been driving a Saturn Ion for the past two years.

 

I miss some things about my Suburban. It certainly was great for dog shows and camping trips--things we don't do as much any more. It would be nicer for driving these rough country roads. (Kansas country roads are generally not paved.) The Saturn sure is cheaper all around. We changed vehicles due to changes in the economy and our family's needs, not so much for any environmental concern, and certainly not because of any religious conviction.

 

I'm really interested to see where you're going with this! It seems such an odd question that the answer has to be interesting, right?:lurk5:

 

Now, as for the local churches in our small rural town, I have noticed a lot of pickup trucks. Suburbans and small cars are there too, but I would bet that pickup trucks take up at least half of the church parking lots around here. We have one each Baptist, Methodist, and Church of Christ in town and a Friends church and one non-denominational church out in the country nearby.

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However, we live in an area where you CAN tell some people by their car as their church regulates what they can drive/no drive and what color it can be.

 

Wow! I've NEVER heard of such a thing. A church regulating (or in a previous post, dictating) what a member can drive????

 

I'm speechless. The things I learn on this board....

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I think region and family size play a big role in vehicle choice. Big families have bigger vehicles. I have a 5 year old van and a 10 year old ex-police cruiser. They are paid off and we'll own both until they die. There are plenty of compact cars, sedans, vans, and even hybrids at my church. Most of the people who bought hybrids have lots of money. They turned in perfectly good late model vehicles for the hybrid. I'm not sure I consider that environmentally friendlier than just driving their other vehicle until its kaput. Oh, well, it's their money and life.

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I attend a Reformed Church. The parking lot is definitely a mixed bag, everything from smaller SUV's to full-sized pickups, minivans and many different types of sedans.

 

One thing I have noticed over the last year and a half is a disproportionate number of Saturns. I did give that some thought, since my own experience with Saturn was an awful one (the car literally fell apart while I was driving it, and it was new!) but I think it's more the proximity of the dealership than anything else.

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At the churches I've attended, I have found it is more a function of family size than anything else.

 

This is definitely the case at my Catholic parish. There are a lot of large vehicles (vans, etc.) to accommodate large families. We are a family of three and drive an older Prius.

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We attend a Foursquare church and have a minivan and a Prius. Mostly there are vans, suvs and sedans in our lot. I have never seen another Prius there, and even though there are a lot of them on the road, I only know one other Christian who owns one--the rest of the Prius owners I know do not attend church.

 

 

*Also* there is a conservative denomination in our area (Apostolic Reformed, I think). They only wear dark blue or black clothing and only drive dark blue or black vehicles. I think they are a little bit like the Amish, but more modern.

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I have never thought of there being a correlation between church denomination and the car you drive.

 

Anyway, I'm Catholic and am a member of a very large parish. I see everything from expensive SUV's and a few Mercedes to the old, beat up car that barely makes it. Mostly, it just average - nothing that stands out to me.

Janet

 

Ditto. I'm Catholic and go to a very large parish, the cathedral, and we see every kind of car and have parishioners who don't drive either b/c they're driven or don't even have a car.

 

I've also been a parishioner at very small/mission parishes and it's exactly the same there: every kind of car.

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I think it has less to do with our denomination and more to do with the area:)

 

 

 

I have to agree. We have attended the same kind of non-denominational church in many different areas and 2 different states. Our current church doesn't have any "high-end" cars, but it's not a real ritzy neighborhood, either. Our last church was full of more expensive cars, but it was in a very nice area. (And I've seen everything in between, too.) As far as size, every church I've attended has had a wide variety of ages and stages, so we always have a variety of compact to SUV.

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I attended a Baptist church several years ago and when we bought a red mini van, we were told that FAMILY cars are blue, green or gray, NOT red. I guess our red van wasn't appropriate for the family. :lol:

 

Anyway, I attend a non-denom now and there mini-vans, small SUV's, sedans, and trucks, of all makes and colors. I have a hot red Scion. Our pastor drives a hot red Mazda3.

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I'm not particularly intersted in the price points of the vehicles in your lots, just the type. In other words, I don't care if it's a Saturn or a BMW, but would love to know whether your vehicle is a sedan, wagon, minivan, SUV, hybrid or something ultra fuel-efficient (MINI, SmartCar, etc.) and what the most common type(s) of vehicles are in you church's lot (or on the street).

 

Thanks, and keep 'em coming! I promise I'll share the info once I have it correlated.

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I take the kids to a Catholic church. I'm an atheist, although my car choice may be influenced by family culture. There are a lot of minivans and 3 row SUVs mixed with sedans. I take the kids to catechism and the mass immediately following it, so this sample is probably skewed to families with kids. The 8am mass parking lot might look very different.

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would love to know whether your vehicle is.... something ultra fuel-efficient (MINI, SmartCar, etc.)

 

I hate to disabuse you of the notion, but I drive a MINI Cooper S and (while it is fast) I wouldn't say it qualifies as "ultra fuel-efficient".

 

Bill (whose car is not red :D )

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When I'm not forcing my children to walk, bike or ride the bus, I drive a blue 1983 volvo. I also listen to NPR and don't go to church. Am I a walking talking steotype or what?!

 

Nicole, (who would really like a Karman Ghia)

And at the time we attended a Methodist church. But we drove the Saturn there most weeks. ;)

 

Then we had DS and a two-seater wasn't so practical! But I miss it anyway.

 

(Oh and to answer the OP - UU and there is definitely an overabundance of hybrids compared to the town as a whole. But also minivans... lots and lots of families with lots and lots of kids!!)

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Our church is a non-denominational Reformed Bible church. We drive a 1999 Ford Taurus sedan...blue, if that matters. :)

 

Our church is small enough I could just about list all the cars for you. But as I think it over, I think that smallish to medium-size sedans predominate. That's mostly because right now we have quite a few young couples, either childless or with small children.

 

We also have mostly one-income families, except for some of those young couples...and some of them are one-income or less because they are students. I think if you lined up all the cars from our church you could draw the conclusion that there's nobody terribly wealthy there. ;)

 

Oh, our pastor and his wife drive a 9-passenger van because they have 6 kids.

 

Now, down the street from us is a Southern Baptist church where there is an overabundance of white or silver sedans. Lots of older people!

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One thing I have noticed over the last year and a half is a disproportionate number of Saturns.

 

Our pastor drives a hot red Mazda3.

 

I wonder if some denominations frown on driving cars named for gods like Saturn, Mercury, Ares or [Ahura] Mazda?

 

Bill (did I miss any?)

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Well, we're not attending church these days, but the most recent church we attended was a Vineyard. It didn't really have a parking lot, since we rented a space downtown. Most of the families had 4 kids, so there were quite a few newer model mini vans. We drive a 2008 Sienna. One interesting thing about this church was that almost all of the men (except my dh) drove motorcycles. This church also ministers to the poor, so there were sometimes homeless people, or people who needed to get a ride. Obviously they wouldn't be represented by a car in the parking lot.

 

I'm curious about the question, too. But I understand it, since I tend to analyze patterns.

 

Lori

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I hate to disabuse you of the notion, but I drive a MINI Cooper S and (while it is fast) I wouldn't say it qualifies as "ultra fuel-efficient".

 

Bill (whose car is not red :D )

 

Hmm, I drive a MINI Clubman, and I'm getting close to 39 MPG. Considering that the SmartCar gets only 36 and is half the size, I'm pretty pleased. Of course, I know you do lose some efficiency with the S version.

 

We looked at the Prius, too, but decided it didn't have the cargo capacity I needed. (Yeah, I know it sounds funny, considering we went with the MINI, but the Clubman is a wagon shape with back seats that fold flat, providing a lot more usable interior space. Also, we had the roof rack put on and bought the cargo bag. So, I now have plenty of space to haul my daughter's dorm stuff and/or my son's camping gear when necessary.)

 

And, since much of my driving is on the highway, the Prius would have bought us only about another seven or eight MPG, anyway.

 

Mostly, though, the MINI was just so much cuter . . .

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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Hmm, I drive a MINI Clubman, and I'm getting close to 39 MPG. Considering that the SmartCar gets only 36 and is half the size, I'm pretty pleased. Of course, I know you do lose some efficiency with the S version.

.

 

Maybe I need to take a driving course from you :D

 

I'm not getting anything close to that kind of mileage.

 

Bill (lead-foot?)

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We are Southern Baptist and drove a red :scared: 15 passenger for a few years. Thankfully, we got rid of it as the gas prices started to soar. Now we have a mini van and an Explorer.

Our pastor drives a big truck (Think big, rancher type man) and his wife a Lexus that's about 10 years old.

I have never been in a church where they have any restrictions on what you can drive and what color. Sounds a little silly to me.

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I have never been in a church where they have any restrictions on what you can drive and what color. Sounds a little silly to me.

 

I'm no expert on this, but I believe some branches of the Mennonite faith drive black (or dark navy) automobiles as part of their cultural/religious preference for being "plain", as they are "plain" in their dress.

 

In that context the color limitation is much easier to understand.

 

Bill

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