The top ten most religious states in America are all located in the south or southern Midwest, according to a new Gallup report.
All ten states are part of the so-called “Bible Belt,” or the area in the United States with a heavy socially conservative evangelical Protestant population. They are, starting with the most religious: Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Kentucky and Texas, which are tied.
The Gallup report ranked each state’s religiousness by asking respondents if religion is an important part of their daily life.
Overall, analysis shows that a solid majority of Americans said religion is important in their daily lives. A full 65 percent of Americans across the entire U.S. population gave this response.
On the other hand, about one in three American adults said religion is not important in their lives, while one percent either responded they don’t know or refused to answer.
Breaking down the data by states, 60 to 70 percent of the population in 23 states said religion is important.
Religion seems to be less important to those living in the New England area and the far West.
The top ten least religious states, starting from the least religious are: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Rhode Island, Nevada, and Connecticut.
The results are based on telephone interviews with 355,334 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted in 2008 as part of the Gallup Poll Daily tracking.
This raises all kinds of questions for church leaders:
1. Why is the most religious state (Mississippi – where I live) also the most obese, poorest, and least educated state? How is it that so many churches have had so little impact on the daily life of the citizens of the state? Why has so much religion not produced concern for loving God with all one’s mind and body? What kind of disconnect in our churches has led Bible-believers to ignore the massive Biblical teaching on living a frugal life, self-discipline, savings, hard work, and love of neighbor?
2. Why is racism so strong in the most religious state?
3. What kind of religion is practiced and preached in the most religious state?
4. What is the mandate from a survey like this? What does this say about our mission in the days and years ahead?
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