Mississippi is home to the "most religious" population, according to an analysis of polling data from the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Not only does the Magnolia state have the largest percent of people who say religion is very important in their lives (82 percent), it also has the highest percentage of people who say they attend religious services at least once a week (60 percent), who say they pray at least once a day (77 percent), and who say they believe in God with absolutely certainty (91 percent), the Pew Forum reported Monday in its "State-By-State Religious Commitment Analysis."
The people of the state's closest competitors, meanwhile, are a little more scattered when it comes to the importance of religion in their lives, their frequency of attendance at worship services, their frequency of prayer and their absolute certainty of belief in God – four measures that Pew ranked each state on based on polling data.
Utah, for example, was found to have the second highest percentage of people who say they attend religious services at least once a week (57 percent). But when it came to frequency of prayer and belief in God, the Beehive state was ranked tenth in both.
"Mississippi stands out on all four," commented the Pew Forum.
Following Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana were found to have the highest percentage of people who say religion is very important in their lives. At the bottom of the list, meanwhile, was New Hampshire/Vermont, where only 36 percent of people said religion is very important in their lives. Pew combined states with sample sizes that were too small to analyze, resulting in a list of 46 "states."
Worship Service Attendance and Frequency of Prayer
Aside from Mississippi and Utah, South Carolina and Louisiana were most likely to have people who say they attend religious services once a week. As for prayer, Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina trailed Mississippi with their proportion of people who say they pray at least once a weak.
And when it comes to belief in God, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee were the states with highest percentage – after Mississippi – who believe in God with absolutely certainty.
States with the smallest proportion of "religious" people, as defined by Pew, meanwhile, included New Hampshire/Vermont, Alaska, and Maine – which consistently appeared in the bottom five of all four lists.
In Alaska, only 22 percent of people said they attend religious services at least once a week. In Maine, only 40 percent of people say they pray at least once a day. And in New Hampshire/Vermont, only 54 percent of people said they believe in God with absolute certainty.
Data for the four measures that Pew ranked each state on was pulled from the forum's 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which details the religious makeup, religious beliefs and practices as well as social and political attitudes of the American public.
The survey was based on interviews with more than 35,000 American adults.
On the Web:
Pew Forum's State-By-State Religious Commitment Analysis at pewforum.org.