Alabama tied for 2nd most religious state in US, new survey finds

As Alabamians, we know that we live in the Bible Belt and a recent Gallup poll just reiterated that the moniker is a proven fact.

The Southwest and Southeast regions of the United States lived up to their religious reputation, producing nine of the nation’s 11 most religious states, Gallup reported. Alabama is tied with Utah for the second most religious state in the U.S.

On the other end of the spectrum the Pacific and New England regions have 10 of the 11 least religious states.

According to the April 6 report, 45 percent of Americans living in the Southwest and 43 percent in the Southeast are “very religious” — a classification based on how important people say religion is to them and how often they attend religious services. They are the only two of the nation’s eight regions with at least 40 percent of their residents classified as “very religious.”

The percentage of “very religious” in the Pacific and New England regions is below 30 percent, Gallup reported, while religiosity is in the 30s across the center of the country from the Rockies to the Mid-Atlantic.

Gallup classifies Americans into three categories:

• Very religious — Americans who say religion is important to them and they attend religious services weekly or almost weekly.

• Moderately religious — Americans who either say religion is important to them or they attend services almost weekly or more often.

• Nonreligious — Americans who say religion is not important to them and they seldom or never attend services.

The survey also confirmed that the commitment-level of Americans who do practice their religious beliefs varies significantly from region to region. A common thread across the Southeast and Southwest regions is that large percentages of Protestants, especially black Protestants, are “very religious.” All of the states in these regions are more religious than any of the states in New England and the Pacific, where residents remain the least religious in the nation, Gallup found.

While the percentage of all Americans who are very religious has shrunk over the past decade, the differences in religiousness between the regions have held firm, with no indication that these regional differences will change in the near future.

Southwest region

In the Southwest, three of the four states are among the 11 most religious — Louisana (4th), Arkansas (tied for 5th), Oklahoma (tied for 10th) — and the other state, Texas, is 14th, according to the report.

The dominating presence of Protestants and other non-Mormon and non-Catholic Christians make up 59 percent of the population, and a majority of these (57 percent) are classified as “very religious,” Gallup said. At the same time, only 12 percent of those in the Southwest region are “nonreligious,” below the national average of 18 percent.

In the Southeast, six of the states in the region are among the 11 most religious in the U.S. Mississippi once again is the most religious state — as it has been every year since 2008, when Gallup began compiling the annual rankings.

Alabama is tied for second; South Carolina is tied for fifth; Tennessee is seventh; North Carolina is tied for eighth; Kentucky is tied for 10th; and Georgia is tied for 12th, according to Gallup. However, there are two outlier states — Virginia is tied for 19th on the national list and Florida, tied for 30th, is the only Southeast state in the bottom half nationally.

Very religious residents

As in the Southwest, Protestants and other non-Mormon, non-Catholic Christians are the major factor behind the high percentage of “very religious” residents in the Southeast, making up a majority of the population (63 percent), and are more likely to be “very religious” (55 percent) than Protestants in every other region except the Southwest, Gallup reported. Fourteen percent of residents in the Southeast are “nonreligious.”

The Pacific and New England regions are collectively home to 10 of the 11 least religious states in the union. New England is home to the four states least likely to have residents who are “very religious” — Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, according to the survey. Even in this region, Vermont stands out. It has had the lowest percentage of residents who are “very religious” every year but one since 2008, Gallup reported, and this year’s 16 percent reading is six points lower than that of any other state. (TAB)


Most Religious states in US

According to percentage of adults who classified themselves as “very religious”

Mississippi: 59%
Alabama: 54%
Utah: 54%
Louisiana: 52%
Arkansas: 50%
South Carolina: 50%
Tennessee: 49%
Nebraska: 46%
North Carolina: 46%
Oklahoma: 45%