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January 28, 2009

The Importance of Religion: State by State

Gallup just released data comparing importance of religion in Americans' lives.

Overall, 65 percent of Americans say religion is an important part of their daily lives. The number is lower than what the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found in their Religious Landscape survey released in February 2008. In that survey, 82 percent of Americans said religious belief and practices was very important or somewhat important, while only 65 percent of Gallup respondents said religion is an important part of their daily life. The Pew Forum gave an option for "very important" or "somewhat important" "not too important/not important at all" while Gallup gave respondents yes, no, don't know options.

So how does your state rank?
Top 10 most religious states
1. Mississippi
2. Alabama
3. South Carolina
4. Tennessee
5. Louisiana
6. Arkansas
7. Georgia
8. North Carolina
9. Oklahoma
10. Kentucky
(Texas comes in at 11)

Top 11 least religious states
1. Vermont
2. New Hampshire
3. Maine
4. Massachusetts
5. Alaska
6. Washington
7. Oregon
8. Rhode Island
9. Nevada
10. Connecticut

The results were based on telephone interviews with 355,334 adults.


Interesting that the land of the Pilgrims' Pride and Roger Williams has transformed away from its roots.

The day after Gallup released its list of states by religiosity, Pew Forum released a ranking of America's 30 biggest cities by order that people most want to live in that city or its suburbs.

Interestingly, the most popular cities tend to be in states with low religiosity. I wonder what that means?

Here are the top 15 cities that Americans want to live in, followed by that state's rank in religiosity):

1. Denver (Colorado #37)
2. San Diego (California #39)
3. Seattle (Washington #46)
4. Orlando (Florida #23)
5. Tampa (Florida #23)
6. San Francisco (California #39)
7. Phoenix (Arizona #34)
8. Portland (Oregon #45)
9. Sacramento (California #39)
10. San Antonio (Texas tied for #10)
11. Boston (Mass. #48)
12. Miami (Florida #23)
13. Atlanta (Georgia - #7)
14. Washington, DC (#32)
15. New York City (NY #41)

I find it interesting that the least religious states have the best social indicators: the best health care, the best education systems, the best child welfare, and so on. Then again, the most secular countries in the world: Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are the countries that also treat their citizens the best. Funny how that is.