Axios Houston

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👋 Hello and happy Friday. April Fools' — it's Monday.

☁️ Today's weather: Cloudy, breezy. High of 84.

👢 Sounds like: "Ya Ya" by Beyoncé.

Today's newsletter is 763 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🙏 Houstonians stay prayed up

Share of adults who say they never or rarely attend religious services
Data: Household Pulse Survey; Note: Adults who say they never attend or attend less than once a year; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Greater Houston is one of the most religiously devout metros nationwide.

Why it matters: More than three-quarters of Americans say religion's role in public life is shrinking, per a recent Pew Research Center survey — the highest level since the group started tracking that sentiment in 2001.

By the numbers: More than 2.1 million adults in the Houston region — or 39% — say they attend religious services never or less than once a year, per a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey conducted Feb. 6-March 4.

  • The next largest group of 1.4 million adults (24%) say they attend services at least 12 times per year. About 850,000 adults (15%) say they attend services one to three times per year, and 389,000 adults (7%) attend four to 11 times per year.
  • About 15% of respondents did not report their religious habits in the survey.
Share of adults who say they never or rarely attend religious services
Data: Household Pulse Survey; Note: Adults who say they never attend or attend less than once a year; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Christians make up 73% of Houston's population, according to the Pew Research Center.

  • 20% say they are religiously unaffiliated, while 7% practice non-Christian religions, like Judaism and Islam.

The big picture: Texans go to religious services more than people in most other states.

  • Among Texas adults, 40%, or more than 9 million people, say they never or seldom attend church or religious services. That's compared with the national average of 49%.
  • In Dallas, that number is 41%.

Zoom out: Religious service attendance nationally has been dropping for decades, per Gallup, driven largely by "the increase in the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation — 9% in 2000-2003 versus 21% in 2021-2023."

Friction point: Nearly half of U.S. adults say they feel at least "some" tension between their religious beliefs and mainstream culture, Pew found.

  • That's up from 42% in 2020.

2. Protect those nesting sea turtles

Kemp's ridley sea turtles are the smallest species of sea turtle, measuring about 2 feet long and weighing up to 100 pounds. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It's sea turtle nesting season in Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking beach visitors to drive slowly and not disturb nest sites to protect the imperiled sea turtles.

Why it matters: Both the endangered Kemp's ridley and the threatened loggerhead and green sea turtles nest along the Texas coast.

What to do: "Driving slowly on the beach during nesting season is crucial," says Mary Kay Skoruppa, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sea turtle coordinator for Texas.

  • If you come across a nesting sea turtle, call 1-866-TURTLE-5 (1-866-887-8535).
  • Visitors are asked to remain at the site until a biologist arrives or, if that's not possible, to carefully mark the site.

State of play: Kemp's ridley sea turtles are particularly vulnerable, as they nest during the day and sometimes blend into the sand. They enter a "trancelike" state while nesting and occasionally choose to nest in tire ruts areas.

Meanwhile, biologists and volunteers from organizations like the National Park Service, Texas A&M University at Galveston, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, and Sea Turtle Inc. patrol Texas beaches throughout the nesting season.

Flashback: In 2023, 256 Kemp's ridley nests were found in Texas.

Share this with a fellow beach-goer

3. Bayou Buzz

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

🏀 The Houston Cougars men's basketball team lost to the Duke Blue Devils on Friday, ending their March Madness run. (ABC 13)

🧪 The EPA's first set of test results on the Union Pacific rail yard contamination in Greater Fifth Ward revealed that nearly 8% of the tested locations had elevated levels of Creosote-related chemicals. (Houston Landing)

Port Houston officials say an accident like the tragic Baltimore bridge incident is unlikely to happen in Houston. (Houston Public Media)

4. Social Calendar

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

😂 Laugh it up at the Secret Group's Comedy Cookie Jar Open Mic tonight.

  • Free. Sign-ups begin at 9pm, with the show starting at 10pm.

🌱 Learn about carnivorous plants from PetFlyTrap at the University of Houston Garden Club tomorrow.

  • Free. 2pm-4pm.

🏳️‍⚧️ Celebrate Trans Day of Visibility with the Montrose Center this evening.

  • Free. Food trucks, speakers and networking run from 6pm-8pm.

💃 Take a crash course on cumbia from the Latin Dance Factory on Thursday.

  • Tickets are $25 for women, $34 for men, and $49 for couples when purchased online ahead of time. They're $40 at the door for everyone. 7pm.

🖊️ Play bingo at Holler Brewing on Thursday.

  • Free. Games start at 7pm.

5. 📸 Camera Roll: Beyoncé's listening party

All Beyoncé, all night long. Photo: Jay R. Jordan/Axios

👋 Jay here! Friday was one of those nights in downtown Houston.

Why it matters: A conglomerate of events made downtown the place to be, especially at Discovery Green, where a DJ spun Beyoncé's new album, "Cowboy Carter," in all its glory as people roller skated.

The intrigue: The roller dance party was all sold out by Friday afternoon, hours ahead of the scheduled needle drop.

Worthy of your time: Check out my X thread on what else happened in downtown that night.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Khalid Adad and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

🤗 Shafaq's cup is now full after a long-awaited weekend visit from a friend.

🍝 Jay is still blasting Beyoncé's "Cowboy Carter" days after its release.