Once again, Mississippi reigns as the most religious U.S. state, with 61 percent of its residents classified as "very religious," according to the results of a Gallup survey released Monday (Feb. 3).
In contrast, only 22 percent of people in Vermont ranked just as devout, and the Green Mountain state held onto its title as "least religious."
Overall, about 41 percent of Americans indicated that they are "very religious," meaning that religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. Some 29 percent were classified as nonreligious, because they did not attend services and didn't cite religion as an important part of their daily life. Another 29 percent fell somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, and were labeled as "moderately religious."
For the most part, the rankings have remained largely unchanged since Gallup first started tracking religiosity in 2008. The most religious states still tend to be clustered in the South, though Utah — with its large population of Mormons, typically the most religious of any denomination — stands out as an exception and ranks No. 2 in religiosity, according to Gallup. Meanwhile, the least religious states are mostly found in New England, the Pacific Northwest and other states in the West.
Top 10 most religious states
Mississippi: 61 percent are very religious
Utah: 60 percent
Alabama: 57 percent
Louisiana: 56 percent
South Carolina: 54 percent
Tennessee: 54 percent
Georgia: 52 percent
Arkansas: 51 percent
North Carolina: 50 percent
Oklahoma: 49 percent
Kentucky: 49 percent
Top 10 least religious states
Vermont: 22 percent are very religious
New Hampshire: 24 percent
Maine: 24 percent
Massachusetts: 28 percent
Oregon: 31 percent
Nevada: 32 percent
Washington: 32 percent
Connecticut: 32 percent
Hawaii: 32 percent
District of Columbia: 32 percent
Gallup officials said cultural differences and the geographic spread of different religions could explain the state-level variations in religiousness revealed in the poll.
Protestants, for examples, have "above-average religiousness," according to Gallup, and the Southern states have a higher percentage of Protestants than the rest of the nation. In contrast, states in New England have a higher percentage of those with no religious identity at all.
In some states, there seems to be a strong cultural predisposition to be religious. According to Gallup, Protestants in Mississippi are more religious than Protestants in Vermont, and even those who don't identify with any organized religion in Mississippi are still more religious than Vermonters with no religious identity.
The rankings are based on more than 174,000 phone interviews conducted nationwide throughout 2013 as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey. The results were weighted to be representative of each state's adult population by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity and education, based on Census data, Gallup officials said.
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