Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Utah is second most-religious state, Mississippi ranks first and Vermont last

By Mark A. Kellner, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Wed, Feb. 5 12:25 p.m. MST

 Utah, shown here in a June 29, 2012, photo, is the second most-religious state, according to Gallup.

Utah, shown here in a June 29, 2012, photo, is the second most-religious state, according to Gallup.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Mississippi, where 61 percent of citizens rank themselves as "very religious," edged Utah by one percentage point to claim the top spot in the Gallup Organization's latest poll of religious behavior in the United States.

Vermont again came in last with 22 percent "very religious" citizens. As Gallup noted, "The least religious areas are mostly in New England, the Pacific Northwest and other Western states," not including Utah, which is where the worldwide headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is located.

The news seemingly didn't shock Vermonters, at least in terms of media coverage: the Burlington Free Press, the state's largest newspaper, picked up an Associated Press story about the poll to inform its readers, while the Rutland Herald, which serves the southern part of Vermont, had no word on the results.

Journalists in some states were a tad more introspective: Seattle Post-Intelligencer political reporter Joel Connelly asked, "Where does Washington rank among the least-religious states?" and he answered in a blog post observing that "Eight of the 'least religious' jurisdictions now recognize same-sex marriage, with only Oregon and Nevada not observing marriage equality.'''

He added that "(n)one of the 'most religious' states have same-sex marriage. In a majority of these states, legislatures have passed new laws designed to restrict and put conditions on women’s access to abortion services."

Esquire magazine writer Charles P. Pierce took issue with Mississippi's religiosity, claiming "the Gospels" would like "a word" with the entire state, which allegedly doesn't provide charity in a manner which Pierce believes the New Testament commands.

"Yeah, Mississippi is very religious, but the available secular evidence is it isn't very (expletive) Christian," he declared, then linking to various data sources showing where the state allegedly falls short of various injunctions, including a lack of government-supplied water-quality reports in relation to Jesus' remarks about being thirsty and receiving "something to drink" in Matthew 25:36.

For its part, Gallup says the 2013 numbers are consistent with earlier findings: "The U.S. remains a religious nation — with about seven in 10 Americans classified as very or moderately religious — and the nation's residents as a whole are about as religious now as they were in 2008. The religiousness of the nation's residents, however, does vary substantially by state and region. The most religious areas continue to be the South, the state of Utah and the Midwestern Plains states...."

With the new data, Time magazine once again jumps into the "Godless" breach, declaring the Gallup poll reveals "These Are the Most Godless States in America," according to staff writer Denver Nicks.

A fortnight earlier, Nicks used data from an American Bible Society/Barna Associates survey of Bible reading to allege Salt Lake City is among the most "Godless" cities in America, a suggestion that drew reproof from the LDS Newsroom blog.

1. BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA,
Feb. 5, 2014

Interesting Survey. Self identified Religous persons and also Self Identified NON-Religous pesons. What was that scripture about praying in private and not making a public display of your religousity ? In these hyper-religous states isn't there a "Keeping up with the Joneses" competition of sorts? Conversely, would the privately religious fib about being NON-religous in the much more secular New England States? How do we know this survey is valid? Were there survey validations?

2. Serenity
Manti, UT,
Feb. 6, 2014

Maybe the survey should be worded differently. Instead of being the most religious states, they should ask which are the states which follow God and the ten commandments. To some, being religious is a status symbol. It is almost like a social club. God, and since this is a Christian country founded on Christian beliefs, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, are simply left out at times. I have even talked with people who don't believe Jesus Christ is our only Savior and they call themselves Christians. That is a great oxymoron I wonder if a survey were conducted about belief in God and following the ten commandments, who would be number one? Maybe Mississippi, maybe Vermont, who knows? Oh by the way, they never asked me. lol

3. m.g. scott
clearfield, UT,
Feb. 7, 2014

Funny considering that only a few days ago there was a story about how Salt Lake City was amoung the last to read the Bible.

4. modernInvestor
Feb. 8, 2014

I'm not so sure that ranking in a survey about most-religious states is something of value. My life in Utah has been very challenging. After living throughout the United States, including Utah and Mississippi, I can't help but recognize that the 2 most-religious states are . . . based on my experience, the 2 most painful.