Statisticians often assert that Maine is the least religious state in the nation. Ours is the only state where less than 30 percent of the populations belongs to a center of worship, and a recent Pew study found that just 40 percent of Mainers pray daily.

Does this mean that the majority of us aren’t interested in spiritual matters? Based on the number of conversations I’ve enjoyed with people from various backgrounds and beliefs who read this column, I’m confident that’s not the case. For many, questions of faith are simply too private or confusing to sort out.

For those who weren’t raised in a faith tradition, where do you start? It’s awkward visiting a church or group where you don’t know anyone. It can be awkward enough when you do! But for those interested in exploring the claims of Jesus, I am thrilled to announce a first of its kind event being held right here in little churches chewing Maine this spring.

On May 7, one of the world’s leading apologists, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, will be speaking in Maine for the first time ever. Part of a lineup of top authors and lecturers, Zacharias, along with The Case for Christ author Lee Strobel, will be presenting at “Why Jesus? 2016,” day-long conference at Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center.

What is an apologist? Someone who speaks in defense of a controversial issue or topic. For more than four decades, Dr. Zacharias, who was born in India, has traversed the globe, speaking with world leaders and students at top universities about questions of faith. From the White House and the United Nations to Harvard and Cambridge and countries ravaged by violence and war, Zacharias regularly draws standing room only crowds who respond to the wisdom and respect behind his thought provoking messages.

We live in perplexing times. “With multiple hundreds of religions and faith views in the world today, how does anyone know what to believe anymore?” the conference website asks. “Why should anyone even care about what to believe anymore? Is there such a thing as true or false when it comes to religion?”

Sponsored by the AIIA institute, of Monson, Maine, this event intends to answer those questions while making a credible case for historic Christian faith. Tickets are $15, but those who aren’t sure of their faith — or who are simply curious — are invited to attend for free. More than 3,600 people have already bought tickets — me included!

So if you are among the 70 percent of Mainers still debating whether faith is for you, consider this your invitation. For tickets, times, and more information, go to For those who can’t make it, check out Zacharias’s books and online broadcasts at

Hope to see you there!

MEADOW RUE MERRILL is a Mid-coast Maine writer who shares about God in her everyday life through “Faith Notes.” For more, go to where you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

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