Thursday, March 12, 2009

If You Are Looking for God. Go South!

I recently came across an interesting item from the Religious News Service.  A new Gallop Poll, based on over 350,000 interviews has discovered that Mississippi is the place to be if one is looking for folks who are into religion.  In fact, 85% of the residents stated that religion was an important part of their daily lives.  Other "high scorers" were also southern states, situated in the Bible Belt.  In fact, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas were all "cruizin'" around the 80% level.  So, my conclusion?  Want religion?  Go south!

New England?  Forget it!  Only 42% of Vermonters found religion to be very important on a daily basis.  New Hampshire?  46%.  Maine and Massachusetts, both 48%.  Some places in the Northwest aren't doing so hot either.  Alaska?  51%  (Governor Palin, what the hell is going on up there???).  Washington state weighs in at about 52%.

Overall, the poll found that 65% of all Americans rated religion as important to their daily lives. Considering other Western industrialized nations, that's really pretty high when you think about it (of course, so is 42%).  The poll did seem to indicate that the lack of interest in New England reflected a large drop in the Catholic population.  It was noted that this seemed to be a a genuine case of people moving away from the religion not the region.

It is interesting to note that, of course, the Bible Belt states are far more fundamentalist in religious outlook.  That might account for some of the difference between regions.  At any rate, it is an interesting trend.  I hope that such studies might lead to other studies of sociological and demographic trends that might be related to the trends highlighted in this recent poll.

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