Least religious, most Catholic

Least religious, most Catholic

Gallup3.pngHere’s a disturbing statistic for the day: The top 4 least religious states in the US, according to percentage of those who say religion is an important part their lives are, in order, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. In Massachusetts only 48% of respondents said that religion was important in their lives. (The other two New England states, Rhode Island and Connecticut were 8 and 10, respectively; Rounding out the list were Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada.)

Coincidentally, the most Catholic states, as a percentage are Rhode Island and Massachusetts, although those numbers are almost 20 years old. But even six years ago, similar percentages were responding to polls that they at least considered themselves to be Catholic. And, it’s still something to consider that the most Catholic states 20 years ago are among the least religious today.

Map credit: Gallup


Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • This sort of data illustrates again Joel Garreau’s model of North America as constituting several coherent cultural “nations”: New England, Dixie, the Rustbelt, the plains Breadbasket, the Hispanic Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the relatively “empty” sector of the Rockies. 

    (And a couple more, but leave them aside for now.)

    I got some Catholic population figures from the Catholic Almanac, lined them up against the Gallup religiosity figures, and got a very mixed picture.

    If I group the states from most to least Catholic (throw in DC for good measure), and list the Gallup religiosity figure for each, I get this:

    In the 10 most Catholic states:
      60% say religion is important to them

    In the next 10: 61%
    middle 10: 62%
    next 10: 61%
    11 least Catholic states: 76%  (!!!)

    So we have 40 states with about 61% religiosity average,

    On the other hand, we have 11 states with high religiosity and low Catholic populations (3% – 6%).  That’s mission territory!