ORANGE CITY, IA. — Two unavoidable facts distinguish Sioux County: The dominant ethnic heritage is Dutch, and among these, the dominant religion is Reformed Christianity.

This shows on Sunday morning, even in Rock Valley, the least Dutch of the county’s three largest towns, said Les Burggraaf, owner of the Cedar Rock Grill.

“Everything’s closed, and there’s a line up main street, because everyone’s going to church, and all the churches start at 9:30,” he said.

Sioux County is an economic juggernaut, a leader in rural Iowa as the state emerges from the recession. But just as the county is defined in 2012 by its business in cows, hogs and manufacturing, it is also defined by religion, which many people say informs the work ethic, the emphasis on education, the cooperation and the big-thinking entrepreneurialism.

“It does have to do with their Christian faith, and a sense of obligation that if you are successful in business you have an obligation to take the proceeds and reinvest them in the community,” said Steve King, the congressman who represents western Iowa and calls himself a longtime admirer of Sioux County. “Even through the ’80s, they continued to invest in their communities, invest in education, and because of that faith in the next generation, those kids are raised to believe they have a future there.”

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