This Week in God: Southern Love, More Prejudice, Catholics in Trouble

News & Politics

First up from the God machine this week is an interesting report from Gallup, measuring religiosity on a state-by-state basis.

There are a number of ways to measure the relative religiosity of population segments. For the current ranking, Gallup uses the responses to a straightforward question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" The rankings are based on the percentage of each state's adult (18 and older) population that answers in the affirmative.

The United States is generally a religious nation, although the degree of this religiosity varies across states and regions of the country. A robust 65 percent of all Americans (across the entire U.S. population) reported in 2008 that religion was important in their daily lives.

Looking at the results, the top 10 most-religious states are all in the South, with Mississippi the most religious (85 percent of state residents said religion is an important part of their daily lives). Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas were close behind. The rest of the top 10 were Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Texas.

On the other end of the spectrum, the least-religious state in the nation is Vermont, with 42 percent of residents saying religion is an important part of their daily lives. Indeed, every state in New England offered similar results, with New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts rounding out the top four for least-religious states. Rhode Island and Connecticut weren't far behind, and Pacific Coast states -- Oregon, Washington and Alaska -- were also in the mix.

Analyzing the results, Gallup noted, among other things, "differing 'state cultures' that are themselves associated with life approaches that give varying degrees of credence to religion as a guiding force."

Also from the God machine this week:

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