Axios Seattle

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It's Thursday and a great day to be the awesome person you are meant to be.

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Situational awareness: Happy Mariners opening day to all who observe.

Today's newsletter is 828 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Washingtonians are among the nation's least religious

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

Easter is this Sunday, but most residents of the Emerald City are likely not going to church.

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 such sentiment in 2001.

By the numbers: Among Washington adults, 62% — or nearly 3.8 million people — say they never or seldom attend church or religious services, compared to the national rate of 49%, according to a Household Pulse Survey conducted Feb. 6–March 4.

  • The percentage of Seattleites who say they seldom or never attend religious services is slightly higher than the state at 64%, making the Emerald City the least religious large metro area in the U.S., per the Seattle Times.
  • San Francisco is the second-least religious large metro by that measure, with 63% reporting that they seldom or never attend services.

The big picture: Religious service attendance 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."

  • Vermont (75%), New Hampshire (66%) and Maine (66%) have the highest share of adults who say they never or seldom attend church or religious services.
  • Mississippi (32%), Alabama (36%) and Louisiana (37%) have the lowest shares.

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.

A separate Gallup survey published this week found that Latter-day Saints are the only religious group in which a majority say they attend services weekly, at 54%.

  • 30% of Protestants say they attend services weekly, compared to 28% of Muslims, 23% of Catholics and 16% of Jews.

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2. Financial exploitation of older adults up in King County

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Loss of judgment, not memory, is often among the first signs of early dementia, making some older people easy targets for scammers and cons, according to King County prosecutors.

Why it matters: The typical victim of elder abuse, especially financial exploitation, has a cognitive disorder that has not been diagnosed or recognized by a family member, said Page Ulrey, head of the prosecuting attorney's Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Unit.

  • Another common risk factor is social isolation, Ulrey told Axios; most victims are single or living alone after the death of a spouse.

By the numbers: Elder abuse, which is often underreported, is costing an estimated $28.3 billion nationally each year, according to a 2023 study conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and AARP.

  • For every case of elder financial exploitation that is reported, another 43 cases are estimated to go unreported, per King County prosecutors.

Zoom in: Reports to Adult Protective Services in Washington of sexual or physical abuse, neglect or financial exploitation have tripled in the last decade, King County prosecutors said at a press conference last year.

  • In 2022, Adult Protective Services received 65,844 reports of elder abuse across the state, with 12,785 of them occurring in King County, per the elder abuse unit.

State of play: Among the most common scams investigated in King County is the "best friend" scenario, in which the suspect becomes close to a lonely older person and separates them from others, becoming, as Ulrey says, "a cult of two."

  • There's also the construction or house repair scam and the sweetheart scam, Ulrey said.

What's next: Ulrey will speak on a panel at a Town Hall Seattle event on Tuesday about elder abuse and the effect of longevity on the criminal justice system.

Go deeper

3. Morning Buzz: Two orca species

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🐋 Historically, Bigg's and southern resident killer whales have been categorized as members of the same species, but they could actually be two distinct species, scientists say. (Seattle Times)

Local mountaineering legend Lou Whittaker has died.

  • Whittaker founded mountain guiding organization RMI Expeditions and reached the summit of Mount Rainier over 250 times. (KUOW)

After locals yelled racist epithets and revved vehicles at them in Coeur d'Alene ahead of their NCAA tournament game against Gonzaga, the Utah women's basketball team relocated to a hotel in Spokane.

  • An apology did not go well. (Axios)

4. Where we were: Bush Hotel

The back of the Bush Hotel is painted with a mural that faces Hing Hay Park. Photo: Christine Clarridge/Axios

Earlier this week, we posted a photo of a lobby and asked where we were and only one reader, Alan S., got it right.

We were at the Bush Hotel on Jackson Street in Seattle's Chinatown-International District.

  • It was designed by J. L. McCauley for William Chappell, who named it to honor his wife, Margaret Busch Chappell.
  • The 1915 building with 444 rooms and nine storefronts was intended to be "the grandest hotel west of Chicago," per HistoryLink.
  • Purchased in 1978 by the Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, the hotel was made over into retail space and affordable housing units.
the front of the Bush Hotel in Seattle.
Photo: Christine Clarridge/Axios

It is now an apartment complex with some units reserved for senior households.

Congrats, Alan, and thanks to everyone for playing!

👝 Clarridge is curious if she could fit happily in one of the Bush Hotel's 290-square-foot studios.

✔️ Megan is done with her first week at Axios. See you next week!

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Egan Millard.