Ashley Baxstrom: Where would we be without the Huffington Post? NOT in the know about the most and least religious states in America, that’s where.
[Full reveal: HuffPo got it from Gallup. But who reads Gallup? Thanks, HuffPo!]
Here’s the breakdown: Mississippi is the most religious, New Hampshire and Vermont tie for least. Eight of the 10 most-religious are in the South, none are in the mid-Atlantic/New England or West Coast regions; but six of the least-religious are in New England, four in the West.
And before you ask –yes, there is an accompanying slideshow of scenic imagery from each state.
How, you might ask, did this extremely interesting and desperately important survey come about? Gallup went around asking people if they considered themselves to be very, moderately, or not religious, and also how often they attend services. Presto: survey! Forty percent of Americans, according to this methodology, are very religious, and 28% moderately. This, ergo, subsequently, ipso facto, means that America is “a generally religious nation.” Also, this high level of religiosity is apparently a stable factor, since they also did the survey two years ago with similar results.
And then it’s like they see where I would start to make an argument, and head me off at the pass with a prolific disclaimer: “These overall national averages, however, conceal dramatic regional differences in religiosity across the 50 states and the District of Columbia.” You don’t say! Of course, what they mean is that people in Mississippi are, like, Baptists, while people in Utah are Mormons; not that they’re using an extremely limiting and limited concept of what it means to “be religious,” or that there might be more to it than going to church on Sunday or saying “religion matters to me.”
But I appreciate how hard they’re trying. There is a little effort at complexification –they even have a sentence about race, and another on how it’s different to be Catholic in Vermont than in the South. “It appears there is something about the culture and normative structure of a state, no doubt based partly on that state’s history, that affects its residents’ propensity to attend religious services and to declare that religion is important in their daily lives.”
And they even make a nod to the intersection of religion and politics, noting parities in most- or least-religious with Republican or Democrat.
I just want to pat them on the head. That’ll do, HuffPo – that’ll do.