What Are the Most Religious States in America?

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If you eyeball Gallup’s latest data-driven map of religiosity in the U.S., it looks similar — with a few tweaks — to an electoral map from a recent presidential election. This week the polling outfit released its latest study of the most and least religious states in the union, and there isn’t much surprise about which places consider themselves devout and which have shrugged off the “very religious” polling indicator.

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The survey explains that it calculated the “very religious” as those poll respondents who said that religion is “an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week.” And since Gallup found, naturally, in an earlier survey that Christianity is the most widely held religion (78% of U.S. adults adhere to a version of the faith) in the U.S., the more churchgoing states were also the more religious.

Deep red state Mississippi, for one, is ranked the most religious state, with, yes, deep blue state Vermont, on the opposite end of the scale. Interestingly, however, even though Mississippi is also considered the most conservative state in the U.S. by another recent Gallup survey, Vermont isn’t among the very top most liberal states (the District of Columbia takes that title in the survey, though it’s not technically a state).

As far as political correlation, Gallup says that “most religious states in the union generally are the most Republican,” and the less religious lean Democrat. The Atlantic Cities’ Richard Florida also analyzed Gallup’s data and found a correlation between religious voters and those who cast their ballots for John McCain in 2008, or conversely, less religious voters and a Barack Obama vote.

If you look below at the most and least religious states, all of the top five most religious states voted for McCain and all the less devout locales went with Obama, except for one notable exception, Alaska (home state of Sarah Palin).

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The most religious states, according to Gallup:

1. Mississippi
2. Utah
3. Alabama
4. Louisiana
5. Arkansas

And the least religious states:

1. Vermont
2. New Hampshire
3. Maine
4. Massachusetts
5. Alaska