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Keywords:

  • ethnography;
  • gambling;
  • institutional religion;
  • Las Vegas;
  • Nevada;
  • sense of place

abstract.

Religion is an important, yet overlooked, aspect of local life in Las Vegas, Nevada. Many residents attend worship services and practice faith in an environment that often promotes the opposite of their religious beliefs. Using qualitative data from interviews with clergy across the spectrum of faith traditions, I analyze the adaptation of institutional religion to local circumstances in order to understand how religious belief reflects local sense of place. In a city bifurcated into tourist and local parts, such analysis provides a glimpse into the insider/outsider place dichotomy of long interest to geographers. It further illuminates how religion and place interact. Religious believers, in Las Vegas and elsewhere, often negotiate between their spiritual beliefs and their surrounding cultural environment.