Friday, April 13, 2012

The hedonist northeast versus the pious south

by Salman Hameed

Well, not too much of a surprise. According to Gallup, the New England states are some of the least religious in the US and the Bible-belt lives up to its name and contains the most religious states in 2011. Mississippi, it turns out, is the most religious, with about 59% declaring themselves be "very religious" (it beats out Utah with 2 full percentage points). And Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious with 23% declaring to be very religious (and Massachusetts 4th least religious with 28%). Here is the religiosity map of the US:

I think California here is a surprise, otherwise, this also a standard election map between the Democrats and the Republicans. Here are some of the numbers: 

And yes, this simplifies things a lot. For example, the religiosity measure here is based on self-designation, and that also varies a lot within each state as well. However, the poll does find State differences within different religious groups: 
Gallup research has shown that these state differences appear to be part of a "state culture" phenomenon, and are not the result of differences in the underlying demographics or religious identities in the states. For example, while Mississippi has the highest percentage of blacks of any state in the union, and while blacks are the most religious of any major race or ethnic group in the country, the Magnolia State's white residents are highly religious on a relative basis compared with whites in other states. And, Vermonters who identify as Catholics or with Protestant denominations are less religious than Southern state residents who identify with the same religions. 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.
Also, non-religiosity goes up to 58% in Vermont, with the overall percentage of non-religious Americans hovering around 31%. Read the full report here

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