The most and least religious states in the US - Mississippi comes out top, Vermont is bottom

Published 04 February 2014  |  
AP

Mississippi is the most religious state in America, according to a new Gallup Poll, with 61% of its population falling into the category of "very religious".

According to Gallup, people are "very religious" if they attend religious services either every week, or almost every week and with identifying religion as being an important part of their daily lives.

At the bottom of the table is Vermont, where only 22% of the population fall into the "very religious" bracket.

Across the USA, 41.4% of the population fall into the "very religious" grouping, while 29.2% are considered "nonreligious", seldom attending religious services and listing religion as unimportant to their daily lives.

Vermont tops the listings for the "nonreligious" group (56%), with New Hampshire and Maine following close behind with 51% and 45% "nonreligious" respectively.

The remaining 29.4% fall into the "moderately religious" bracket. They either attend weekly services but don't list religion as important to their daily life, or they do consider religion important to their daily life, but they don't attend weekly services.

The state with the largest "moderately religious" block in the US is West Virginia with 34% fitting into that category. Delaware and South Dakota come second with 33% each.

In the five years between 2008 and 2013, religiosity in the US has remained fairly constant at around 40% being "very religious", with 2013 showing a slight increase of 1.3% when compared to 2012.

There was a more noticeable 1.7% drop in the number of non-religious Americans in 2013 compared to 2012, bringing that number to below 30% for the first time since 2008.

The data was gathered through more than 174,000 interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking in 2013. More than 500 interviews were conducted in each state and 442 in the District of Columbia.

Vermont is also tracked in Gallup's 'State of the States' polling data as the most liberal state in the US, with 32.4% of the population describing their political beliefs as liberal. Only the District of Columbia comes in higher, with 38.1% calling themselves liberal.

By contrast, Mississippi is both the second most conservative and the least moderate state in the US, with 47.9% of the population identifying as conservative, and only 31.6% declaring themselves to be political moderates.

Wyoming is the only state more right wing than Mississippi, with 51.4% declaring themselves to be conservative.

The findings echo those of the American Bible Society's survey of the most 'Bible-minded' cities in the US, which found that the most religious states tended to be in the south, while the north east and the west were home to some of the least religious. 

However it was the Tennessee city of Chattanooga, rather than any city in Mississippi, that claimed the top spot for religiosity in their listing. The highest ranking Mississippi city was Jackson, coming in ninth place.

Bottom place for religiosity in their survey was tied between Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Vermont's lowest ranked cities were at 92nd place, Burlington and Plattsburgh.

Gallup has suggested many possible causes for the breakdown of religiosity across the various region.

It points out that the southern US is marked by high numbers of Protestants, and surveys have shown that Protestants are generally more religious in ways that can be marked in statistically studies.

It also notes that Utah's large and highly religious Mormon population makes it an anomaly in the western states, with none of its neighbouring states coming close to its 60% of "very religious".

The top ten most religious states in the US are:

  1. Mississippi - 61%
  2. Utah - 60%
  3. Alabama - 57%
  4. Louisiana - 56%
  5. South Carolina - 54%
  6. Tennessee - 54%
  7. Georgia - 52%
  8. Arkansas – 51%
  9. North Carolina – 50%
  10. Oklahoma - 49%

The ten least religious states are:

10. New York – 34%
9. Hawaii – 32%
8. Connecticut – 32%
7. Washington – 32%
6. Nevada – 32%
5. Oregon – 31%
4. Massachusetts – 28%
3. Maine – 27%
2. New Hampshire – 24%
1. Vermont – 22%

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