Daily prompt: Welcome, Stranger

Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor?

My state Vermont has been declared by some group or other the least religious state in the country. I believe the stranger would be agog at the number of downtown churches in Burlington given this reputation. The pedestrian street is the Church Street Marketplace, and there, at the top of the street, is the Unitarian Universalist denomination for which the street is named. Within one block of the Marketplace, there are two Congregational Churches. A little further away is the First United Methodist Church.

In the other direction, we have the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St. Paul’s Cathedral Episcopal and the Christ Church Presbyterian. To the north, by a block or two is St. Joseph Church.  At the top of the hill is Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, and across the street, the Burlington Friends meeting house.

I could go on. Go a little further in any direction and you will find churches, synagogues, and houses of all kinds of worship. This does not look like the least religious state in the union. I must say that Burlington is the biggest city in the state, with approximately 44,000 people, but the greater Chittenden County area, including close suburbs to the north, east and south (Lake Champlain is to the west) probably comes close to 100,000. And in that area there are in excess of 53 houses of worship. Expand the radius by ten miles and you pick up another fifteen or so.

We may be the least religious state in the union, but there is plenty of faith, hope and charity to go around.

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