A new poll from the Gallup Organization reveals that although "state culture" influences one's religiosity, America is still, overall, a religious nation. In addition, the survey found that among all states, Mississippi is the most religious, while Vermont and New Hampshire rank as the least religious.
As the Gallup Organization reports, 40 percent of Americans nationwide classify themselves as "very religious," meaning they consider religion to be a very important aspect of their lives, and attend a religious service every week, or almost every week.
Results from the poll, published March 27, found that in Mississippi and seven other states, at least half of the residents classify themselves as "very religious."
The seven other states described as "very religious" include Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The majority of these states are in the south, which Gallup says may be a factor in their residents' religiosity.
On the other hand, Vermont and New Hampshire were found to be the "least religious" states. These two, along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska, had a religious population of less than 30 percent. The majority of these states are in New England.
"Southern states have traditionally been the most religious, and states in New England and in the West have been the least religious," reports Gallup.
"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," Gallup reports.
Thirty-two percent of Americans are "nonreligious," saying that religion is not an important part of their lives, and they rarely attend religious services.
The remainder of Americans, 28 percent, who participated in the survey were classified as "moderately religious," saying that religion is important but they do not regularly attend services, or religion is not important but they still attend regular services.
The report points to regional trends, or the "state culture" phenomenon, as the reason for this divide. According to Gallup, proof of the phenomenon can be found in the fact that the statistics have remained stable in the past few years.
The survey was conducted over the phone from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011, and randomly sampled 353, 492 adults in all 50 U.S. states, as well as the District of Colombia.