Gallup: ’32% of Americans are Nonreligious’

Gallup has just released its list of the most religious states and the least religious states in the country — all based on how people categorized themselves between the options of “Very religious,” “Moderately religious,” and “Nonreligious.”

In 2009, the last time they released a survey like this, the question was “Is religion an important part of your daily life?” and the options were “Yes” and “No.” (In other words, don’t bother comparing the percentages between then and now — we’re talking about very different questions in the two scenarios.)

Here’s what they found (based on 2011 polling) regarding the states with the highest percentages of “very religious” Americans:

Some things to note:

  • Mississippi, once again, is at the top of the list.
  • In 2009, Utah didn’t crack the top ten. Now, it’s #2. The difference in question obviously had an impact here.
  • Of all the states in the top ten here, Utah also has the highest proportion of nonreligious Americans (28%, compared to Mississippi’s 11%)
  • There’s very little change in the past few years.

What about the states with the lowest percentages of “very religious” Americans?

Some things to note:

  • Vermont, once again, is at the bottom of the list. Go Vermont!
  • Yep, Alaska is on that list. I’m still surprised by that.
  • There’s very little change in the past few years.

If you wanted to group the states based on the highest percentage of nonreligious Americans, the chart would look like this:

1) Vermont (58%)
2) New Hampshire (52%)
3) Maine (49%)
4) Massachusetts (47%)
5) Oregon (45%)
6) Alaska (44%)
6) Washington (44%)
8] Connecticut (42%)
9) Nevada (40%)
9) New York (40%)
9) Colorado (40%)
9) Montana (40%)

Gallup summarizes the findings this way — and what a huge understatement they make:

Gallup classifies 40% of Americans nationwide as very religious — based on their statement that religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. Another 32% of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining 28% of Americans are moderately religious, because they say religion is important but that they do not attend services regularly or because they say religion is not important but still attend services.

I want to point that out again because it’s a huge freaking deal.

Nearly a third of our country can be categorized as nonreligious. A THIRD! That is the highest number I’ve ever seen describing the “nones.” Just to be clear, they’re not all atheists — I’m sure some would call themselves “spiritual but not religious” and many of them still wrongly believe in some higher power — but organized religion doesn’t have a stranglehold on their lives. That’s an incredible number.

Here’s the full 2012 list, broken down by categories:

31.50% Nonreligious. Wow.

It makes you wonder how 40% of Americans can still believe in Creationism… because not all those people who are “very religious” go to churches preaching Young Earth Creationism.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • They’reAllTheSame

    Born and Raised in NH, Schooled in CT, frequent visits to VT, I’m a product of my environment!! 

  • Rwlawoffice

    How does this correspond to the population of the United States? 58% of Vermont is far less then that same percentage of another larger state. Did the survey make a determination of the total population that consider themselves nonreligious?

    • Hemant

      By my calculations, if you just added up the percentages and divided by 50 — the wrong way to do it — you would get 33.02%.  So I think they did adjust for population differences between states.

      • Rwlawoffice

         I have attached a link to the census data which shows the actual numbers. 

        • Rich Wilson

          Interesting.  The ‘pure atheist’ number there is a lot lower than on the PEW poll.  Possibly the open ended question as opposed to giving people choices?  I’m intrigued to look at the data closer.

          I do wonder about the methodology of calling (I presume) land lines.  I know they have ways to account for biases for participant selection, but calling land lines is becoming as bad as it was back in the Dewey Defeats Truman days.

          I wonder how religiosity correlates to owning a land line :-)

          • Rwlawoffice

            I’m not sure you know this but religious folks were the first to accept cell phones because we are used to talking to certain people long distance without cords.  WE usually do it before every meal and before we go to bed. :) 

            Actually the census was done through self responses to the relilgious question so I would suspect that the number of people who would self express to a census worker that they were atheists was not a true representative sample of atheists and is probably lower then it really is.  

            • FSq

              Thing is “lawyer” – we who use cell phones understand that we are not talking “in the air” to imaginary sky fairies. Science is much different than make believe.

              • Anonymous

                I actually kind of liked his/her joke.

            • Anonymous

              Actually, self-reported data usually under-represents the true data. Nice try though.

              • Rwlawoffice

                Actually that was what I was trying to say. I guess I did not make it clear.

    • Kd5kuv

      Presumably they could also just ignore the demographic information in the data they gathered and have reached an percentage based on the un-subdivided mass of respondents.

    • Rich Wilson

      In case you missed it, some interesting data on the religiosity (or not) of the British.  Seems a lot of people automatically tick off ‘Christian’ on the census, but as we know, that label means different things to different people. 

  • JT Eberhard

    Rhode Island, on the whole, isn’t very religious because all the loons are piled up in Cranston.

    • Mike Hitchcock

      I was thinking the very same thing!

      • Whatthehell

         who cares!

    • Perry Winters

      Literally the first thing that crossed my mind upon reading the Rhode Island demographics. lol!

  • The LatiNone

    Alaska is not surprising, it is a western frontier state. That whole region (Mountain/Pacific) was the least religious until New England took over.

    • FSq

      I grew up in Alaska. It is a very misunderstood state. Alaskans (The Palin family excepted) tend to be erudite, well educated and very wordly. Alaska rednecks are way different than “down south” – lower 48 – rednecks!

  • Gregory Lynn

    A year ago I moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina.

    Yeah…it’s a little terrifying at times.

    • Ritch

      Did basically the opposite move (NC to NH) over a decade ago…and I can understand your cultural shock. I wish you well. 

  • David

    Hmm. Coincidence that Mississippi, with the highest percentage of religious people, ranks as the poorest state in the country (at least in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau); that Mississippi students scored the lowest of any state on the National Assessments of Educational Progress in both math and science; and that it currently ranks at the bottom of the American Human Development Index?

    • Ewan

       How’s that correlate with percentage of poor black people?

    • Michael La Porte

       I was noticing this and wondering what the Regressional analysis would show comparing these to: (a) poverty; (b) receipt of federal funding; (c) voting republican; (d) education; (e) incidence of infant mortality; (f) prevalence of obesity, etc.

      • scinquiry

        I would recommend reading “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.  They compare many of those metrics, as well as others, both internationally and state-to-state.
        You can view some of their findings here:

    • Didokla

       No, it’s not a coincidence that Mississippi has the highest percentage of religious people and Vermont the lowest. There is an article about that in the latest issue of Psychology Today that states: “People who live in an economically depressed areas – where food, safety, and education are limited – are more likely to have faith in a higher power and derive happiness from religion, researchers report in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.” So what is that? A way to add some happiness to your life if you have no other resources? Or how about believing that the “prayer bucket” will work out somehow?

      • Why

         hey fuck u damn athiest

    • Doug Flynn

      You know what they say about Alabama. At least, it’s not Mississippi.

  • gski

    This list makes me proud to be a New Englander.

    • Greg

      Not seeing California score better makes me wish we could split into North and South California. Or maybe just make Orange County it’s own state.

  • Melissa

    I was raised in New Hampshire. I moved to Virginia when I was 9 and I had *no idea* until I was in college that New England is the least religious place in America, because literally every single person I was ever allowed to interact with except the Sinful Neighbors were part of the young-earth creationist movement.

     Then I graduated college and got a job in Massachusetts and life is amazing and awesome here. I think there’s literally one person in this entire company who goes to church every week. Love ya, New England.

    • TerranRich

      I live in Massachusetts as well. Isn’t it great? It’s liberal, one of the least religious states, and beautiful to boot. Not to mention the socialized health care for those who can’t afford to purchase it on their own.

      • Gregory Marshall

         Sssh, don’t tell Mitt Romney

    • Muzakbox

      I’ve lived all over the country including in Virginia. But I keep moving back to Connecticut. It’s because I’m most comfortable with people here in New England. The level of religiosity I ran into in the rest of the country always made me feel super uncomfortable. Except in California. Different things drove me away from California. That state is awesome, and crazy as hell, and it is exhausting to live there.

      • FSq

        As a Californian (I moved here….six years ago) I must say that I adore living here in Santa Barbara! SB is the best! And I do love California, even with its issues.

        • Rich Wilson

          Only downside is the cost of housing.  That drove me out of SB 4 years ago.  You know Dawkins is at UCSB 4/4?

          • FSq

            I do. BUT, I will be in Botswana! So, while seeing Dawkins sounds awesome, I am STOKED STOKED STOKED for my assignment in Africa!

            Yes, housing is expensive here, but it balances out. My quality of life is VERY VERY high, so I can deal with the housing costs.

      • Anna

        Love California! Even though it’s not one of the least religious states, in my neck of the woods (SF Bay Area), religion is treated as a private matter, and I like it that way. It’s a great place to be born and raised atheist.

        • Rosemary

           My findings, also.  Our son and the majority of his school mates (Asperger’s kids, so there is an obvious bias) are athiest.  It is not a big deal so long as it is not worn on the sleeve.  I have very devout Christian neighbors who also happen to be friends.  They don’t make a southern-style nuisance of themselves by trying to (re)convert me.

    • monyNH

       I was also born & raised in NH–amazing how many of us are on here! I had just the opposite experience–all of the church goers I knew growing up were pretty liberal-minded. (I attended a progressive Congregational church, where our youth group leader encouraged questioning–thank you, Rev. Washburn!)

      I think we have a lot of “Armchair Baptists” in these parts–people who don’t go to church, and who keep their beliefs private. (For instance, I had no idea how deeply religious my grammy was until after she passed away and notebooks full of her poetry were found.) Or, we did until a bunch of nutjobs decided to run for State office. I love NH, but these days I’m glad I live in VT!

  • Nicole Introvert

    I’m surprised Colorado isn’t higher up on the list.  But I suppose (like Cranston, RI) all the loons are concentrated in Colorado Springs with Focus on the Family and New Life Church.  I live in VA but visit my in-laws often in CO and it almost feels worse out there.

    • AllAtheist

      Colorado definitely depends on where you are.  The Colorado Springs area is terrible, but Boulder is extremely liberal.  I’ve only found issues when you get in the vicinity of Colorado Springs.  I moved to Denver from Tennessee several years ago, and I can tell you there is absolutely no comparison.  It’s one of the best things about living here. Religion almost never comes up.

      • Lauren

        Don’t forget about the Western Slope, pretty conservative out there too. But yep, ita @ the Springs dragging down the rest of the state….hell our Republicans voted *gag* Santorum. But the rest of the state is AWESOME, i live north of Denver. Even my more religious friends believe in marriage equality and know Creationism is a load of horseshit.

        • Cellosymphonique

           Although, I do not identify as religious, and on many occasions conservatives have annoyed me, I personally enjoy the diverse collection of people in Colorado. I’m great friends with a number of Athiests and an equally large number of religious people. I suppose, I just don’t think that religion is all bad. For information’s sake, I’m in Fort Collins.

      • CO Atheist

        I have the unfortunate luck of living in Colorado Springs at the moment (hoping to escape to Denver soon) and I think the Colorado Springs area definitely affects the results since it is the Evangelical capital of the nation. Most places outside of Colorado Springs tend to be more liberal and nonreligious. However,  I have met a fair number of nonreligious people here too, so I think we are a slowly growing population. I hope I live to see the day that New Life and Focus on the Family close their doors forever.

  • Jessica M.

    I’m iffy about defining “nonreligious” as people to whom religion is not an important part of their daily life. That doesn’t seem to account for the fact that religion can play an important part of someone’s life not because they subscribe to it but because they’re aware of its negative effects. I’m an atheist, but I consider religion an important part of my life because I recognize its destructive influence and want to actively reverse it.

    • Danielle

      I’m iffy about it as well. My immediate thought was “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.”

  • Ritch

    Moved from NC to NH and yes there is a huge cultural difference between the two states. Even within NH there is a cultural divide as well, it is not as wide or divergent as  the Granite State is from the Tarheel State. I love many aspects of my home state, NC, but to the dismay of my relatives: NH is a better state overall to live in my opinion.

    • Anonymous

      Live in NH also, comes in tops on a number of big quality of life indicators…

  • Tiffany Jade Brown

    Eff living in Mississippi. If my family and the in-laws weren’t here, my husband and I would be making a beeline for the Northeast. And now that we know we’re expecting a girl, I’m even more reluctant to stay in this state. 

    • mkb

      Congratulations on your pregnancy.  Hope you can find ways to escape at least occasionally.  If there isn’t a Camp Quest Mississippi by the time she is 8 maybe you can make the drive to Texas,.

    • Anonymous

      It’s extremely difficult to find a decent school in Mississippi. Most, but not all, of the public school districts are complete garbage. I’m actually faced with the prospect of sending my child to a catholic school, and it’s giving me nightmares.

      Of course a lot of the public schools are fairly religious, too, so perhaps it doesn’t matter.


      • Tiffany Jade Brown

         Yeah, the school issue in MS is something we’ve been discussing. Until 11th grade we’re pretty much screwed. After that, we’re hoping that our child will be either intellectually gifted and attend the Mississippi School for Math and Science (where we met) or the Mississippi School for the Arts. MSMS is a bastion of liberal thinking hidden away in the small town of Columbus, MS. It’s amazing.

        • Anonymous

          Perhaps you could hire a tutor instead?  Or just give her books to read.  

  • Mike Brownstein

    I wonder what the other demographic data looked like…

  • Jake

     woo Vermont takes it again!

  • LifeInTraffic

    While VA is somewhere in the middle, the reality is that it’s just two totally different states: Northern VA, and Everything Else VA. The former has a fairly high population of non-religious folks and is overall pretty liberal. Everything from Charlottesville down fits better with the Carolinas and Mississippi.  So, while the state overall ranks somewhere in the middle, the reality is a lot more skewed for people who live here.

    • Anonymous

      That line between NoVA and SoVA is pretty crooked, and runs straight through Fredericksburg, dips down to collect Charlottesville, then heads back up state to avoid the Blue Mountains.  I commute between Fxbg and C’ville four days a week – I would never, ever want to live in Orange Co. dead in the middle between them.

      • LifeInTraffic

        That is a fair point.   Pretty much everywhere south of C’Ville, I’ve found, is ultra-religious, so that’s always been kind of my “NoVA” divider, but you’re absolutely right about there divide being pretty crooked.

    • Dietra

      Yep. Northern VA is what keeps VA in the middle, religiously and politically.  The rest of the state is nuts.

    • Anonymous

       I suspect that a similar divide, though not quite as extreme, exists in Illinois–the urban corners are mostly low-level on religious practice, and the swathe in the middle is filled with the Bible-thumpers who keep us from passing an actual gay-marriage bill.

  • Deiloh

    Cali. makes a little more sense now. Love the variety but it can get a little nutty.

    • Chris Leithiser

      Sigh.  Bakersfield is the Cranston of California.

    • Muzakbox

      I have never run into such high levels of contrast as I did in California. I was shocked when I was mid coast how conservative and even scary the state seemed to me. But in the cities both south and north it was so liberal. I know cities everywhere are more liberal but the contrast was just so stark as I traveled from the north to the south.

      • FSq

        I live in Santa Barbara now and it is AWESOME! It has a very progressive bent, and the people rock! But go into the Inland Empire or up near the Oregon border and it is HILLBILLY/DESERT RAT redneck central. And the attitudes are more than conservative!

        But Santa Barbara, if you have to live in the USA, is the place to be! Forget what Randy Newman sang in “I Love LA”, gimme “I Love SB!!!!!”

        • Ctiscornia28

          I live in the inland empire in California having grown up in San Diego and 20 years in bay area. This is the Bible belt mostly because of orange county transplants. But now 30% have bachelor degrees (2010 Census). We are getting there. We have a few atheist – agnostic groups and meeting with them keeps me sane.

          • Ctiscornia28

            Oops! Correction. Murrieta and Temecula have the 30% BA’s. I think the average for the rest of the IE is still in the mid-twenties.

      • Anonymous

        The US is all about extremes, and California is like a miniature U.S. in demographics. 

      • Ginacwest

        I was born and raised in Fresno, California, talk about a conservative pit. I left the moment I was 18 and now live in the Monterey/Carmel area. It’s extremely expensive, but Liberal and well worth it. The people in Carmel/Pebble Beach are Republicans not out of conservatism in nature, they just want to keep all their money. Religion isn’t as much an issue here, people are more spiritual or spacey – especially in Big Sur.  Have never left California in 40 years, but if I did, I would move to Massachusetts for sure.

    • Anna

      The San Francisco Bay Area is good for atheists. Religion almost never comes up in conversation. Most people still have supernatural beliefs of one sort or another, but it’s definitely live and let live.

      • Hello

         that’s because everybody in san fran are faggots

  • Ernest Valdemar

    So, basically, everyone in Utah who isn’t Mormon is non-religious?

    • GregFromCos

      Colorado Springs seems very similar. The huge Christian contingent tends to drive most non religious to the extreme as a result. It’s very easy to know what you stand against here.

    • Patrick Orlob

       I’d be willing to bet that even a good percentage of self-identified Mormons here also said they weren’t religious.

  • mkb

    The Creationism survey did not give an option for Old Earth creationism.  Thus, Old Earth creationists had to choose between answering as YECs or accepting evolution of humans.  Who knows how it would have come out if an OEC option were given.

  • James Sweet

    Wow, we have a plurality in my state.  That’s awesome!

  • Anonymous

    It would be interesting to see the age breakdown of the respondents as well.
    I think we should all feel very encouraged.  Sanity and reason will overcome!

  • Larry Meredith

    31% is not the “nones” that % could even include average Christians. The question is specifically about the importance of religion in your daily life. I’m sure there’s lots of people who don’t go to church and don’t think about god daily, but are still very much believers.

    • Sammy

      The “daily life” question is from 2009. The 2011 question is “Are you very/moderately/non-religious?” So 32% of Americans say “I am non-religious”, which IMO is an even better metric than “nones”, since it includes people that might call themselves Christian or Jewish or whatever for cultural reasons, but do not practice it at all. …and “Jersey-Shore-esque morons” are “nones”, what else would you call them?

      • Larry Meredith

        You are correct. I must have skimmed by it too quickly to notice the question I was referring to was the old one. I agree that the people who personally consider themselves “nonreligious” is much more specific than the “nones”.

  • FSq

    I grew up in Alaska. This does not surprise me at all.

    You have to understand the basic Alaskan mentality. It is much more libertarian than anywhere else in the states. Essentially, most Alaskans are accepting and easy going (although I was exiled from my town for my atheism) – the mentality is “this is my property. I will do what I want here, don’t tell me what to do on it and I won’t tell you what to do on yours.”

    Alaska rednecks are WAY different than southern rednecks or Idaho/Wyoming/Montana style rednecks which tend to be violent, in your face and oppressive. 

    • walkamungus

      Hey, Wyoming has a much tinier population of compound-dwelling religious lo0nies than Montana and Idaho! Much of the Wyomingite mentality is closer to Alaskans’.

      • FSq

        I was on assignment in Wyoming about three years ago. I was based out of Jackson and was there for five months. Based on what I saw and had to interview, Wyoming makes Mississippi and Alabama seem downright progressive!

        I was interviewing the Jackson FIre Chief, and I asked him how he felt about the Obama Administration’s proposal to some of the land acts going on (I was covering some environmental issues) and he said, and I quote -VERBATIM – “That nigger isn’t my president”.

        Now, two things: a) I am a journalist – what you say to me WILL be used. There are no “take twos” and there is no such thing as “off the record”. b) He was indicative of the mentalities I encountered in Wyoming and Idaho. I had other such encounters with other people, and you could feel the underlying intolerance and nastiness all over. And I was in the alleged progressive enclave of Jackson!

      • FSq

        I was on assignment in Wyoming about three years ago. I was based out of Jackson and was there for five months. Based on what I saw and had to interview, Wyoming makes Mississippi and Alabama seem downright progressive!

        I was interviewing the Jackson FIre Chief, and I asked him how he felt about the Obama Administration’s proposal to some of the land acts going on (I was covering some environmental issues) and he said, and I quote -VERBATIM – “That nigger isn’t my president”.

        Now, two things: a) I am a journalist – what you say to me WILL be used. There are no “take twos” and there is no such thing as “off the record”. b) He was indicative of the mentalities I encountered in Wyoming and Idaho. I had other such encounters with other people, and you could feel the underlying intolerance and nastiness all over. And I was in the alleged progressive enclave of Jackson!

        • Anonymous

           I was studying to be a journalist for a couple of years and I found that people seem to not understand that there’s no such thing as “off the record.” If you’re speaking to a journalist about a story, then it’s on the record. If you don’t want it on the record, then don’t talk about it.

  • Michael La Porte

     Typo – “regression”

  • CKincadeSD

    I was born and raised in Mississippi and attended church every Sunday morning. I married a women who was a member of the same church but from New Mexico. I’m sure that the poll accurately reflects the people of Mississippi. I’ve lived in Southern California now.

    I always had questions about god. Now, I just can’t believe there is a being watching our every move, and throwing obstacles in our path, and listening to our prayers. I recall a Doonesbury strip on 12/19/07 where a GWB adviser is telling him, “Sir, the trouble with trying to fathom the will of god is that if one thing is god’s will, then everything else that happens is his will, too. And there are a lot of things that happen that you wouldn’t think he’d want to take credit for.”  My sentiments exactly.

  • Dan D.

    Woo! Maine represent!

    • Anonymous

      I second that!

  • John

    The questions asked are really important when trying to assess results like this.  For example if someone asked me my level of religiousness, I would answer “not very”.  But if they ask me how often I attend church services, I would answer “Weekly or more often”, which could be loosely translated as “very religious”.  But I’m an atheist who attends a UU church and depending on the season, I might show up at the church quite often.

    I suppose atheist/humanist UUs are a small enough demographic that they would not distort these kinds of polls.  But as some of the other comments have suggested there are other reasons the exact wording of the poll questions will have an affect on how individuals answer. Atheists could get counted as religious and people who believe in all kinds of supernaturalism and even the inerrancy of the Bible who would not.

  • Wild Rumpus

    Looking through recent US census data, it’s no surprise that the “very religious” states also have the lowest education and lowest household incomes…  except for Utah.  …and Alaska is in the middle for over 25s with Bachelor degrees.

    It is pretty indicative, though, that the higher educated you are and the more money you earn, the less likely you are to need a religion to help you understand the world.

  • BenFromCA

    “Mississippi, once again, is at the top of the list.”

    You didn’t complete your sentence, Hemant.  Here you go…

    Mississippi, once again, is at the top of the list of states with the highest percentage of ignorant bumpkins.

    • Tiffany Jade Brown

       Being from MS, I’ve gotten to the point where I cannot even defend this state anymore. It’s a bit depressing.

      • Chris Dees

        Yeah, living in MS is very trying. I’m making it though. We have a few secular groups scattered across the state now, some of which have been around for a while and no one knew about them, but they’re out there and we’re promoting them.

      • Anonymous

        When I worked for a church, the pastor said the same thing about Christianity. From the pulpit.

        He retired shortly after.

  • Mike Creamer

    I’m not surprised to see the southern states filling out the “religious” list and notably missing on the “nonreligious” list. In Panama City, Florida, where I live, you can pretty much close your eyes and throw a rock and you’ll hit a church. Actually, that sounds like fun… :)

    • Fucku

       killing my science teacher(who is athiest) sounds fun 2 :)… :o

  • Anonymous

    Should I feel bad because I strongly dislike very religious people?  (This is one of the reasons I live in Massachusetts).  My dislike is not so much moral or political as it is epistemological.  These people have failed in their epistemological duties, and they celebrate the fact that they’ve failed in those duties by praising faith.  I take my moral responsibilities seriously, but I take my epistemological ones as seriously.  To me, listening to someone make claims without any idea that they have a responsibility to provide reasons and give evidence is like watching someone punch old people on the street without any recognition of their moral responsibility.  It sickens me.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not necessarily wrong to dislike a group of people based on their openly espoused patterns of thought.  It’s only when superficial, and non-chosen characteristics are discriminated against that it becomes an issue.

      • Anonymous

         This. This is what needs to be said when people claim I or any other atheist is intolerant or prejudiced against somebody’s religion. Hell yeah, I’m prejudiced. I’m prejudiced against self-imposed ignorance.

    • IDK

      point of fact the US was built by religious people  fleeing persecution… U DICK!

  • scinquiry

    Doesn’t surprise me that Mississippi is near the top of the list of states in terms of “very religious” Americans.  I’m sure you if you compared this chart to inequality amongst the states there would be strong correlation to the level of the states inequality and religiosity:

    Just the same with individual nations and inequality/religiosity correlation:

  • Anarimus

    Not surprised Tennessee is high on the list. That’s why i started my blog.

  • Mike Brownstein

    The more I think about this, the question is too ambiguous to make this claim. The problem I have is people who identify as Christian but don’t go to church nearly ever, may qualify themselves as a Non-Religious. That variable is almost missing one option…

  • Anonymous

    I think people are surprised that Alaska is on the list of non-religious states because they automatically think non-religious means progressive. In reality, there exist conservatives who don’t like the religious right but are Republican because they are fiscal conservatives  or neo-cons. And yes, there are Libertarian atheists of the Ayn Rand style, the most famous of which (at least to us) is Penn of Penn and Teller.

  • Onamission5

    I admit my surprise in seeing Oregon near the top of the not very religious list. Then again, the vast majority of *extremely* religious Oregonians I have known and with whom I was raised are the very same who claim that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. When asked their religion they will say they do not have one, and yes, they are serious.

    • Onamission5

      Then again maybe they limited their survey area to PDX, Eugene, Ashland, and Bend, and left the less progressive areas alone?

    • Anonymous

      Does not surprise me.  However  it really depends on where you are.  The population centers are heavily progressive/liberal (and I would assume non-religious) while the rural areas are much more conservative.  I would love to see a more detailed demographic, I’m sure places like Portland would be much higher non-religious and places like Bend would be much, much lower.

    • Xeon2000

      This is the same thing I was going to say as well. I know many people who are “crazy for Jesus” but claim they aren’t religious.

    • Xeon2000

      I’m from Michigan by the way.

  • Ally

    What about this 28% moderately religious who could either think religion is important but don’t attend services regularly or *not* important but do attend services? This category doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I would lean toward calling people who say religion is not important in that category as more non-religious. Why are these people attending? Are they all in a Peggy Olson situation? I don’t think it’s a stretch to consider shifting a few % of the moderate category to non religious. But, the poll in general is a touch iffy, and I could be off base and being optimistic. 

  • Nazani14

    How was this poll conducted?  I’ll bet people’s answers would differ depending on who they were standing next to.

  • Sandy Kokch

    Combined with the UK polling done by the RDFS Ipsos/Mori lot it, and the recent Pew polling about how Amercans are sick of the over religious rhetoric spouted by politicians, it seems 2012 is a bad year for the religulous reich poll wise.

    This makes the end conclusions section of the Bill Maher film even more pertinant – the section where he points out that non-believers outnumber any other lobbying block (yet remain mostly ignored).

    You have the ammo now my US chums….. now use it.

  • Len

    It would appear how religiousness of your state depends in large part on how close it is to Canada

  • American Secular Census

    Let’s not get too excited. Here is what Gallup says about this group: “Another 32% of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. ”  In other words, this cohort likely includes many theists who are privately spiritual and simply uninterested in organized religion, and it likely excludes atheists who attend humanist (and in their minds “religious”) congregations like Ethical Culture or Humanistic Judaism or UU. As with so many surveys designed for diverse populations, this one blurs the line between affiliation/practice and actual belief.  This problem was our motivation for starting the American Secular Census, which requires an upfront affirmation of skepticism of supernatural claims. (And we’re preparing our very first viewpoint analysis right now! http://www.SecularCensus.US/ )

  • Coleman Glenn

    Hemant, I think you might be mistaken about the question that was asked – as far as I can tell, it’s the same as in the 2009 poll. The article you linked to says that Gallup classifies them as very religious, etc., not that they self-identified as such.  And the section you quoted says, “Gallup classifies 40% of Americans nationwide as very religious — based on their statement that religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week.” So, it doesn’t sound like this is people self-identifying as very religious or non-religious, and that makes a big difference, at least to my mind – I think if you asked people what they considered themselves you’d get different results, although I’m not sure what they’d be.

  • GoMissouri!

    These are interesting numbers, but there is no proof that being a poor minority (for example black) and scoring low on tests has anything to do with religion. It is all circumstancial correlations. For all we know, if the people who put very religious suddently got some sense and rejected religion, this country would erupt in anarchy, since being atheist with Christian-based morals works on a small scale, but it can not work on a large scale. For all we know, for these people, their identity is in their religion, and if they rejected it, they would be much worse than they are now, and if non-religious people became religious (not necessarily Christianity, I am guessing a large % of Utah is Mormon for example), they would be much better off than they are now. These are the statistics, and numbers do not lie, so we can make some guesses of why Mississippi is very poor and very religious, but we do not know if that is an accurate way of interpreting the statistics. Show me the proof.

  • ginny

    Are the atheists against religion because it imposes morality and common sense on people to live a good life and sets an example of how to treat others or just because they don’t really believe there is a “supreme being” out there. I’m baffled that this earth and the life on it is actually by mistake and not design.  Nature is too perfect to have just happened don’t you think? Who kows you may just be an experiment in someone’s petri dish or something…..I know being an atheist gives wide berth  to do whatever anyone  wants with no consequences or guilt. must be nice.

    • Rich Wilson

      (I really should seek help for my pathological need to answer drive-by-trolls)

      because it imposes morality and common sense

      Religion’s morality is broken and makes no sense.  As evidence I submit the US legal system, which has almost nothing to do with Biblical law.  The only commandments codified in law are stealing and killing.  And lying in rare cases.  And those show up in all moral codes.  In fact, coveting is downright encouraged as a cornerstone to capitalism.

      And since you said ‘religion’ not ‘Christianity’ shall we talk about the morality of Sharia?  No?

      I know being an atheist gives wide berth  to do whatever anyone  wants with no consequences or guilt

       So the only reason you do the right thing is that you’re afraid of Hell and looking for the reward of Heaven.  And you think that that applies to everyone else?  Most of us are better than that.  We have plenty of reason to do the right thing without being promised a Heaven or a Hell.  If that’s what it takes for you, then by all means, keep believing.  I’d hate to have you give up your faith and think that’s an excuse to do whatever you want.

  • Brandon

    This seems like a poor interpretation of the poll. 

    “32% of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services.” 

    So they are saying that religious people who seldom attend services are “non-religious”? What is wrong with Gallup? The classes in this study are incorrectly labeled. They would be more accurately labeled: “Very Religious”, “Moderately Religious”, and “Weakly Religious.” I see why they chose not to use “Weakly Religious” though — it is not flattering at all to be labeled as having no strength of your own convictions.The Friendly Atheist would do better to look at this Gallup Poll: Which shows that more than 90% of Americans are religious. And likely close to 100% when you include supernatural creator beliefs that do not include the word “God” — which was asked in these polls.I like that you’re active on the side of reason, but it’s just not true that 32% of Americans can be considered non-religious.

    • Robert Smith

      True, unfortunately he’s misunderstood the article. The question didn’t give a selection between ‘very’, ‘moderate’ and ‘non’, this is what Gallup has classified them as.

      There was a recent study in the UK that tried to measure how religious people were in a ‘practical’ sense that I found much more interesting and comprehensive

      But with this Gallup poll I would think that many would strongly contest that they were non-religious. I’m an atheist but I would say that even if a person doesn’t think about religion everyday and doesn’t go to church, they can call themselves a Christian if they want.

  • Viceroy Argus

    I just stumbled across this post.  Most of these commenters seem to be just as closed-minded, self-righteous and bigoted as the religious “loons” they abhor.  They are describing entire groups of people and sections of the country with the same ignorant, broad-brushed caricatures that religious extremists use.  

    • Guest

      [xkcd]Well, the important thing is that you’ve managed to find a way to feel superior to everybody else.[/xkcd]

      Your inability to grasp the use of generalizations in common conversation doesn’t reflect poorly on other people.


    that forty percent of Americans beats that thirty one percent of those athiests… BITCH!

  • Hey12

    Athiests are one of the most least liked groups in America…. That’s a good a thing :)

  • Timo

    Encouraging, but still, how many of them are skeptically minded? How many of them ascribe to woo and pseudoscientific nonsense like homeopathy and the antivax movement? How many read and believe “The Secret”? 

  • Frank Bellamy

    This number isn’t nones. It’s a different question from that. 

  • Greg Laden

    So, President Obama was Senator from a state that is more religious than the state Romney was Governor of.    

  • Pjay

    Interesting that despite being pretty smack dab in the middle religiously, Iowa was among the first to recognize marriage equality, ahead of less religious states. (Iowa FTW) 

  • Joseph Langston

    That would be the idea of existential security by Norris and Englehart, stating that as existential security (measured in this case by a variety of societal-level health indices, such as national rates of infant mortality, suicide, adult literacy rate, per capita GDP, also the U.N.’s Human Development index, etc.) increases, various indicators of religiosity decrease (i.e. secularization occurs, though I think this refers to the individual-report level, perhaps not necessarily societal-level indicators of the influence and strength of religion. Or I could be wrong). Phil Zuckerman talks about it in his paper on rates/patterns of global atheism, as does Gregory Paul in speaking about the reliance of popular religiosity on dysfunctonal psychosocial conditions,…or some such is his paper’s title. Jonathan Lanman also has what he calls his Threat and Action Theory which would address existential security in a manner of speaking (“threats” in the environment, whether micro or macro, to one’s well being or one’s group). Threats lead to increased religious behavior and commitment, which in turn leads to greater belief on the part of others who are exposed to such actions.

  • Starchief5

    Interesting. I am an Evangelical. Most churches say nothing at all about the age of the earth. Most would not even venture a guess about WHEN God created the earth – just that He DID create the earth.

    • Guest

      Nonsense. The sheer number of Young Earth Creationists in the U.S. refutes that claim.

  • Stian

    This is pointless, so many people i have seen that have absolute faith(in jesus) still call themselves nonreligious as if religion is the bad thing and faith is still great. I don’t see how this survey can possibly give a correct impression. It’s false hopes. I don’t doubt that it’ll be true in the real sense of non-faith 10 years from now though.

  • Stanley James

    the bottom line on this is that the more progressive a state is, the fewer who are religious.

    Who wants to live in a society where religion controls everything. Look at the madness of the Saudis, and 9-11

    look at the nutters who justified slavery as per the bible and then replaced it with segregation. Note that America – the most religious nation in the west was the second to last westernized nation to end slavery and the only one to need awar to do it

    Look at the horrors of WWII, created by people who, religious or not, grew up in the catholic faith, and went to catholic schools as was standard in Europe in those days

    These crazy people learned to hate Jews in this environment, again religous or not. Hence came the holocaust after the election of AH by a nation full of catholics and right wing protestants

    Hitler – austrian catholic. Gobbbels, Himmler, EICHMANN, and mengele were all catholics.

    And the german pope has the sick nerve to in 2009 UNEXCOMMUNCIATE BISHOP WILLIAMSON, A HOLOCAUST DENIER

    • Stanley James

      Separately, Williamson was living in Argentina . the govt there kicked him out. And taking because they understood the nutter ness of the neo-nazi bishop, and its Pope, in 2010 they became the first latin nation to have gay marriage

      Now it also included Mexico, Brazil and Columbia which is under unanimous supreme court mandate to implemant equal marriage by June 20, 2013

      Uruguay has passed it though their congress and it awaits their senate action.

  • Steve

    The article leaves a lot to be desired. They say that statistics can state just about anything you want to see, and I feel that is the case here. The poll does not define what non-religious means at all. The fact is that many of the people in that category may feel non-religious because they never attend church, but that certainly does not make them anywhere close to atheists or agnostics. Churches have a lot less of an influence on most religious people than ever before in history, as people now explore for themselves with greater resources for information. Many people who believe in a god do so differently than any church teachings, so do not attend. Many people do not daily dwell on religion, but believe in God, and would in many cases classify themselves as non-religious. I know a lot of people in this category.

    Atheists consider themselves enlightened, or smarter, and better than the god-believing folks – how biased and bigoted is that? Look at yourselves and look at your personal attitude toward people of all beliefs, and by and large your group is no different than most other groupings of people – exclude extremists on both ends.

  • Anon

    It’s unsurprising Alaska made it to the least religious list. Where are the churches when there is so little organization? Most homestead types are very liberal, conservationist, not “conservative.”

  • Travis

    What a smart guy, he thinks science has all the answers where I am in medicine and we are still practicing and finding out new things everyday. News flash, God is real and created you, deny if you want but that would make your intelligence wasted ignorance.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Both your Christlike humility and science-minded demands that you be right because you say so are noted.

  • WillyB

    Wait a second. The Pew Survey from 2012 says that 1/5th of Americans are nonreligious. How could Gallup say it was 1/3rd?

  • jonny

    so, just i don t why motto of us is <> change your motto so

    it s more better

  • bizbird6

    Who killed some 3000 innocent people in NY City in 2001, Believers or

    If these believing Muslim were Atheists or Agnostics, these 3000 or so New York
    victims would be alive today.

    Religion results in far more harm and evil than good.

    Look at all those religious wars, the Inquisition, burning of heretics, and
    suicidal bombings where thousands were victims.

    World War 1 and 2 results in the death of Millions and Millions, and yet the
    main participants of both wars were all Catholics (Italy and Germany),
    Christians (Germany), and Shintoist (Japan).

    Both the population and leaders of those countries were raised and brought up
    in Traditional Religion which did nothing to prevent the Wars and the slaughter
    of Millions.

    For example, Hitler and Mussolini were raised as Catholics and Stalin was
    raised a Russian Orthodox (I heard Stalin even wanted to be a priest in his
    childhood days. Hitler was even a Catholic Altar Boy when he was a Child.)

    It is not of LACK of belief, but strong BELIEF in religion that causes all this
    Harm and Evil in the World.

    It would be much better for the World if we ALL ABANDON TRADITIONAL Religion and adopt a Non-religious Belief.

  • bizbird6

    Christianity: A Dying Religion in England and France


    Image by Catholic Church (England and Wales)

    The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury recently warned that Christians may
    soon become strangers in their own land. Rt Rev Mark Davies shared this message
    with more than 1000 Catholics during a five-day prayer fest that was organized
    in Norfolk.

    After recent data from the government revealed that Christians
    might emerge as a minority in Britain, Davies urged those in the audience to
    take a clear stand for their faith. According to the data shared by the bishop,
    most Britons would not refer to themselves as Christians by 2020 and close to
    4000 churches are likely to shut down by the same year if the congregation
    continues to diminish at the existing rate. Davies is known to be one of the
    most outspoken critics of the British Government’s plans to legalize gay

    The Catholic Church in France too seems to be on its last legs.
    According to recent reports, more than a third of
    France’s general population and about two-thirds of France’s youth identify
    themselves with no religion. The same report suggests that only one in twenty
    people attend Mass regularly in the country.

    Father Innocent Feugna is an African minister and known for his
    work in northern France. He stated that his congregation is aging and gradually
    dying out too. Feugna pointed out that not only are church-goers growing old,
    but church officials are aging too. Since the average priest in France is 75
    years old, foreigners are often imported when religious services need to be
    conducted. According to the deacon, the youth of France has different
    aspirations and their interests lie elsewhere.

    Douglas Yates, professor at the American Graduate School in Paris
    and assistant professor of political science at the American University of
    Paris has the same take on the changing scenario. According to him, Africans
    are replacing the native priests in France as they grow older. This trend is
    common in rural areas. As France has become more secular over the years, the
    Church has become eye-to-eye with atheists and agnostics. Yates substantiates
    the growing fear by saying, if the existing trend is to continue, the Catholic
    Church will indeed become a minority religion.

  • bizbird6

    Religious People Branded As Less Intelligent Than Atheists In Provocative New Study

    The Huffington Post | By Macrina Cooper-White
    Posted: 08/14/2013 3:48 pm EDT | Updated: 08/15/2013, 11:47 am EDT

    That’s the provocative conclusion of a new review of 63 studies of intelligence and religion that span the past century. The meta-analysis showed that in 53 of the studies, conducted between 1928 to 2012, there was an inverse relation between religiosity — having religious beliefs, or performing religious rituals — and intelligence. That is, on average, non-believers scored higher than religious people on intelligence tests.

    What might explain the effect?

    Scientists behind studies included in the review most often suggested that “religious beliefs are irrational, not anchored in science, not
    testable and, therefore, unappealing to intelligent people who ‘know better.’”

    But the researchers who conducted the new meta-analysis say the answer is a bit more complicated. They suspect intelligent people might have less of a “need” for religion.

    “Intelligence may also lead to greater self-control ability, self-esteem, perceived control over life events, and supportive relationships, obviating some of the benefits that religion sometimes provides,” study co-author Jordan Silberman, a graduate student of neuroeconomics at the University of Rochester, told The Huffington Post in an email.

    So if you’re a believer, does this mean you’re a dope?

    “I’m sure there are intelligent religious people and unintelligent atheists out there,” Silberman said in the email. “The findings pertain to the average intelligence of religious and non-religious people, but they don’t necessarily apply to any single
    person. Knowing that a person is religious would not lead me to bet any money
    on whether or not the person is intelligent.”

    The researchers acknowledge the limitations of the meta-analysis. It did not look at type of religion, for example, or at the role culture might play in the interaction between religiosity and intelligence.

    In addition, The Independent pointed out that the researchers used a narrow definition of intelligence. In the paper, intelligence is defined as “the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience.” This excludes other forms of intelligence, like creative and emotional intelligence.

    The meta-analysis was published in Personality and Social Psychology Review.

    Quick Poll

    do you think about the study’s bold claim?

    I’m a total believer in the study –
    it makes a lot of sense.


    I have no faith in the study’s
    findings — believers are just as smart as non-believers.


    It’s just researchers playing with
    statistics — it doesn’t apply to individual people.


  • bizbird6

    The Bible is an extremely inaccurate and a Fraud.

    The Bible is full of misquotes, lies, and forgeries. You need to read two Bible experts who spent a lifetime studying the Bible.
    One is Bart Ehrman, who have written some 20 books already about the Bible. One of them is in the “Top Ten Best Seller list” called, “Misquoting Jesus”. The
    other is Bishop Spong who retired from the Episcopal Church.

    Both of them are experts on the Bible and both of them said that the Bible is full of inaccuracies, lies, and forgeries. They not only studied the Bible as you know
    them today, but also the original ancient text that the Bible today were translated from. Many of the ancient or medieval translators were amateurs, liars, fiction creators, or extremely poor translators that completely misread the earlier Bible.

    The Bible is NOT an piece of “revelation that was dropped from heaven”, but a Human piece written and translated over the many centuries by imperfect, fallible, ignorant, and erroneous Human Beings who don’t know any better.

    We must never use the Bible as our guide, but regard this as just a piece of FICTION and NOTHING MORE.

  • bizbird6

    John Shelby Spong

    Retired American Bishop of the Episcopal Church

    Gospel of John: What everyone Should Know About The Fourth Gospel

    Posted: 06/11/2013 12:09 pm

    Almost any poll of egular church goers will reveal that their favorite book in the New Testament s the Gospel of John. It is the book that is most often used at Christian funerals. It includes such well known and oft-quoted texts as: “God so
    loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should
    not perish but have everlasting life.” It boasts the shortest verse in the
    Bible: “Jesus wept,” which serves the needs of many cross word puzzle
    creators. Its prologue was used for centuries in Catholic liturgies as
    “the last gospel” at the mass. It includes characters like Doubting
    Thomas, whose very name has entered our public discourse.

    Yet, I suspect that if hese devotees of John’s Gospel were introduced to the world of Johannine cholarship, they would be both shocked and angered by contemporary insights nto this treasured book. It is to place much of this scholarship into the ublic arena that I have written the book, “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a ewish Mystic.”

    Among the conclusions that I have reached in my intensive five-year-long study
    of John’s Gospel are these:

    1) There is no way that he Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of esus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over a period of 25 or 30 years.

    2) There is probably not single word attributed to Jesus in this book that the Jesus of history ctually spoke. This includes all the “I Am” sayings and all of the
    “Farewell Discourses.”

    3) Not one of the signs the Fourth Gospel’s word for miracles) recorded in this book was, in all robability, something that actually happened. This means that Jesus never hanged water into wine, fed a multitude with five loaves and two fish or raised Lazarus from the dead.

    4) Many of the characters who appear in the pages of the Fourth Gospel are literary creations of its author and were never intended to be understood as real people, who ctually lived in history. This includes Nathaniel, who is introduced with reat fanfare in chapter one and is treated in John’s Gospel as one of
    “the Twelve,” as well as the enigmatic character called by the Fourth
    Gospel “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” who is introduced in Chapter
    13 and who stars in this narrative from then on up to and including the
    resurrection event. Between those two “bookend” characters, we run
    into such well-known figures as Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman by the well, the an crippled for 38 years and the man born blind, none of whom has ever been
    mentioned before in any written Christian source and each of whom in all
    probability is nothing more than the literary creation of the author.

    5) John’s Gospel seems to ridicule anyone who might read this book as a work of literal history. For example, Jesus says to Nicodemus: “You must be born again.”
    Nicodemus, the literalist, says: “Born again? I am a grown man! How can I
    crawl back into my mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus says to the
    Samaritan woman: “If you know the gift of God, and who it is that is
    saying to you ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would give you
    living water.” The Samaritan woman, a literalist, responds: “Man, you
    don’t even have a bucket!”

    6) The Gospel also exaggerates its details, once more I believe, to counter any attempt to read it iterally. For example, Jesus does not just turn water into wine, he turns it into 50 gallons of wine! Jesus does not just give sight to a blind man, he gives light to a man born blind! Jesus does not just raise a person from the dead, he rises one who has been dead and even buried for four days, one who is still round in grave clothes and one who, according to the King James translation
    “already stinketh” with the odor of decaying flesh!

    Finally this book will Challenge the way the Fourth Gospel has been used in Christian history as the garantor of what came to be called Christian orthodoxy or creedal Cristianity. The Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. leaned on the Fourth Gospel as literal history in order to formulate the creeds and ultimately to undergird
    such doctrines as the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. The texts used to support
    that creedal development, my studies have led me to affirm, have nothing to do
    with an external God entering humanity in the person of Jesus, but are rather
    attempts to describe the experience of the human breaking the boundaries of
    consciousness and entering into the transformation available inside a sense of
    a mystical oneness with God. If that is so, then the Fourth Gospel has the
    potential to become the primary biblical source upon the basis of which
    Christianity can be changed dramatically to speak with radical freshness to the
    21st century.

    Christianity is not about the divine becoming human so much as it is about the human becoming divine. That is a paradigm shift of the first order.

    These are the Conclusions to which my study of John’s Gospel has led me, and they are the Conclusions that I explore and document in this book “The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic.”

    • Rich Wilson

      You realize you’re preaching to a 20 month old choir which has left the building?

      • bizbird6


      • bizbird6

        You’re still here and others are too!