“In God We Trust.” Or do we? According to an extensive Gallup Poll tracking data collected throughout 2008 and released earlier this year, it might depend on where you live.
In a study dubbed “State of the States: Importance of Religion,” The Gallup Organization analyzed results from more than 350,000 nationwide interviews. Overall, the research found, 65 percent of Americans say religion is an important part of their daily lives. Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas were the most religious states. Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts were the least religious.
The high note was Mississippi, with 85 percent responding “yes” to the question, “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” On the lowest register was Vermont, with 42 percent replying in the affirmative. Alaska was almost dead-center at 51 percent, while California clocked in at 57 percent.
But why the state-to-state differences?
“Differing religious traditions and denominations tend to dominate historically in specific states, and religious groups have significantly different patterns of religious intensity among their adherents,” wrote Frank Newport in a report on the study.
“The states have differing racial and ethnic compositions, which in turn are associated with differing degrees of religiosity. … In addition, there may be differing ‘state cultures’ that are themselves associated with life approaches that give varying degrees of credence to religion as a guiding force.”