Though it’s a pastor’s dream to shepherd a flock of mature, passionate believers concerned about living out their faith each day, most would settle for leading those who are simply “concerned about religion.” So where are you most likely to find such spiritually minded individuals in the United States? According to more than 350,000 people who answered the question “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” your best bet—not surprisingly—is to head to the Bible Belt.
Eighty-five percent of respondents in Mississippi answered yes to the Gallup Poll question, making it the “most religious” state in the country. Close behind were Alabama (82 percent), South Carolina (80 percent), Tennessee (79 percent), Louisiana (78 percent) and Arkansas (78 percent). On the other side of the spectrum were (in order): Vermont (42 percent); New Hampshire (46 percent); Maine (48 percent); Massachusetts (48 percent) and Alaska (51 percent).
Experts say although the concern for religion among individuals is obviously regionally characterized—with the South being the most religious and New England being the least—the reasons for this aren’t so clear. For instance, despite its high population of African-Americans (who are comparatively more religious than other races), Mississippi still would rank as the most religious state even if only the white population were considered.
Overall, 65 percent of all Americans said religion was a daily priority. [Religion News Service, 1/30/09]