NH least religious state, MS the most

Friday, February 12, 2016
 | 
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

Bible with American flagServing as a strong indicator of why Republicans chose two of the least faith-minded candidates in Tuesday’s primary, the New Hampshire ranked as the least religious state with only 20 percent if its residents identifying as “very religious,” while Mississippi took the honors for the eighth straight year as the most religious, with 63 percent.

This year, New Hampshire edged out Vermont by 2 percent, with only one in five residents considered as being “very religious,” while almost two out of three Mississippians are labeled very religious —according to the latest Gallup state-by-state analysis that included more than 174,000 spanning all 50 states. Gallup defines Americans who are very religious as “those who say religion is important to them and who attend services every week or almost every week.”

The most recent Gallup Poll findings show that the least religious states in America are found in the Northeast and Northwest, with New Hampshire and Vermont vying for the bottom spot each of the last eight years. The non-contiguous states of Hawaii and Alaska also made it into to bottom 10.

The most religious states continue to be in the South, except for Utah, with its high concentration of Mormon adherents. For eight years and running, Mississippi has beat out the rest of the United States as the most religious state.

Here’s a look at how all 50 states stacked up, ranking the percentages of the “very religious” populations in each:

  1. Mississippi─ 63 percent
  2. Alabama─ 57 percent
  3. Utah─ 55 percent
  4. Louisiana─ 54 percent
  5. Tennessee─ 53 percent
  6. Arkansas─ 52 percent
  7. South Carolina─ 51 percent
  8. Georgia─ 51 percent
  9. North Carolina─ 49 percent
  10. Kentucky ─ 47 percent
  11. Texas─ 47 percent
  12. Oklahoma ─ 46 percent
  13. South Dakota─ 45 percent
  14. Kansas─ 45 percent
  15. West Virginia─ 45 percent
  16. Nebraska─ 45 percent
  17. North Dakota─ 44 percent
  18. Idaho─ 44 percent
  19. Indiana─ 43 percent
  20. New Mexico─ 42 percent
  21. Missouri─ 42 percent
  22. Virginia─ 41 percent
  23. Ohio─ 40 percent
  24. Iowa─ 39 percent
  25. Maryland─ 38 percent
  26. Michigan─ 38 percent
  27. Minnesota─ 38 percent
  28. Pennsylvania─ 38 percent
  29. Wisconsin─ 38 percent
  30. Illinois─ 37 percent
  31. Florida─ 37 percent
  32. Arizona─36 percent
  33. Delaware─ 36 percent
  34. New Jersey─ 35 percent
  35. Montana─ 34 percent
  36. Colorado─ 34 percent
  37. California─ 33 percent
  38. Connecticut─ 33 percent
  39. Nevada─ 33 percent
  40. Wyoming─ 32 percent
  41. Alaska─ 32 percent
  42. New York─ 32 percent
  43. Rhode Island─ 32 percent
  44. Hawaii─ 30 percent
  45. Washington─ 29 percent
  46. Oregon─ 29 percent
  47. Massachusetts─ 27 percent
  48. Maine─ 26 percent
  49. Vermont─ 22 percent
  50. New Hampshire─ 20 percent

Little gain, little loss

A Closer LookAccording to the annual results in the Gallup poll since it began in 2008, the religiosity of Americans has remained relatively unchanged during the entire two terms of President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.

“[T]he percentage classified as very religious on the basis of their attendance and view on the importance of religion has stayed remarkably stable,” Gallup researchers report. “In 2008, 41 percent of Americans were very religious, 29 percent moderately religious and 30 percent nonreligious. In 2015, those same percentages are almost identical: 40 percent, 29 percent and 31 percent, respectively.”

Gallup states that “nonreligious Americans are those for whom religion is not important and who seldom or never attend religious services,” while “moderately religious Americans meet just one of the criteria, either saying religion is important or that they attend services almost every week or more.”

Political weight

With two primaries already in the wake, the religiosity of residents in states has proven to have a significant impact on how popular presidential candidates are with voters — especially Republicans, who consistently identify as more religious than Democrats. This was attested by the results seen in moderately religious Iowa, where 39 percent are very religious, and New Hampshire, where only 20 percent are serious about their faith.

In Iowa, Ted Cruz — one of the most outspoken religious Republican presidential candidates — came in first with 28 percent of the votes in the first primary of this year, beating out perhaps the least religious of the GOP candidates, billionaire Donald Trump, who received 24 percent. However, in the least-religious state, Trump won a landslide victory, pulling in 35 percent of the vote this week in New Hampshire, compared to Cruz’s weak showing of just 12 percent. Kasich, who, like Trump, does not have the greatest sway with Evangelical voters, only received 2 percent of the vote in Iowa, while coming in second to Trump in New Hampshire with 16 percent of the vote.

Gallup recognizes this correlation and how it can determine the presidential outcome, come November.

“Religion today is significantly linked to politics in the U.S., with Republicans, on average, significantly more religious than Democrats, so it could be expected that more religious states would be more Republican,” Gallup explains. “This tends to be true in general, with many of the most religious states classified as solid or lean Republican in Gallup's recent analysis of 2015 party identification data.”

There is an anomaly in some states, which are less predictable than the rest.

“However, there are exceptions to this pattern … Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and Kentucky are among the most religious states but are classified as politically competitive based on their party identification,” researchers  continued. “Alaska, as another example, is one of the least religious states in the union, but is classified as solid Republican. And, as the most outstanding example of a disjuncture between religiousness and partisanship, New Hampshire is the least religious state in the union, yet is classified as a lean Republican state by Gallup and as a swing state by observers.”

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