Crunchy Vermont and conservative Mississippi are, respectively, the least and most religious states in the U.S., according to an annual Gallup poll about Americans’ religious attitudes released Monday. Since 2008, when Gallup started tracking these measures, the majority of the most religious states have been clustered in the South, while New England and the West have the least religious states.
Gallup created its ranking of the most and least religious states based on interviews with more than 174,000 people in 2013, with at least 500 in each state and 442 in Washington, D.C. People were considered very religious if they said religion was an important part of their daily lives and they attended religious services every week or almost every week. Those who were considered not religious said they rarely or never attended religious services and religion was not a part of their daily lives.
The 10 most religious states in the U.S. are primarily in the South. Mississippi is the most religious, with 61 percent of its residents attending religious services at least once a week in 2013. The exception was Utah, which has a predominantly Mormon population and came in as the second most religious state. The list of religious states in the South also includes Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee, where at least 54 percent of the people were very religious.
On the other end of the spectrum, the 10 least religious states are in New England and the West. In Vermont, 22 percent of residents attend church services at least once a week; followed by New Hampshire, with 24 percent; Maine, 27 percent; Massachusetts, 28 percent; and Oregon, 31 percent.
Gallup said that while the rankings have changed each year, the broad trend has not, with Southern states and Utah consistently among the 10 most religious and states in New England and the West among the 10 least religious.
The reasons behind the regional differences can partially be attributed to the higher percentage of Protestants living in the South, Gallup said, because Protestants are more religious than members of other faiths in the U.S.
Nationwide, the proportions of very religious and nonreligious people have essentially remained constant since 2008. In 2013, 41 percent of Americans were very religious, 29 percent nonreligious and 29 percent somewhat religious, meaning that religion was important in their daily lives but they didn’t regularly attend religious services.