The Washington Post

The religious states of America, in 6 maps

Anne Marie Metzler, 26, at the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bethesda, Md. (Katherine Frey/ The Washington Post)

In 29 states, Protestants account for at least half of the population. That’s true for Catholics in only one state: Rhode Island.

That’s according to new Gallup data, based on  surveys of more than 178,000 Americans last year, which show the share of each state that is Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, very religious or nonreligious.  

Avid GovBeat readers might have noticed that we’re big fans of a few things, including maps and data about religion. We’ve taken a look at the role geography plays in determining religiousness and at religious identification at the state and county level. But those religion maps were based on 2010 data. So, naturally, we couldn’t resist putting together the following six maps based on Gallup’s 2013 surveys. Here they are, with some key takeaways:

1. Alabama and Mississippi are the most Protestant states

All 10 of the most Protestant states are in the South, with that share above 70 percent in nine of those states. Gallup’s definition of Protestant was any individual who either claims to be Protestant or follows a Christian faith that is neither Catholicism or Mormonism.

The Protestant share of the population was largest in Alabama and Mississippi, where it accounted for 77 percent.

2. Catholics make up a majority of just one state: Rhode Island

Catholics account for a majority of people in just one state: Rhode Island, where 54 percent claim Catholicism as their faith. The religion is next most popular in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, accounting for 37 to 44 percent of the population in those states.

Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee are all home to the smallest share of Catholics, at just 8 percent.

3. In 38 states, Mormons make up 1 percent or less of the population

Unsurprisingly, Utah is home to the largest share of Mormons, with 60 percent of respondents claiming it as their faith. Idaho was next at 24 percent, followed by Wyoming at 9 percent. The Mormon share of the population is between 2 and 5 percent in another 10 states.

In 27 states, it makes up about one percent of the population. And the share of Mormons is so small in 11 states that it rounds down to zero.

4. New York and New Jersey are home to the biggest shares of Jews

Unlike Mormons, there is not quite as much variation among the top Jewish states.

In New York, Jews account for 7 percent of the population, followed by New Jersey at 5 percent. Massachusetts and D.C. each claim 4 percent, while Jews account for about 3 percent of the population in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, and Nevada.

In 23 states, about one percent of respondents said they were Jewish, while the share of the population that is Jewish is effectively zero in another 12 states.

5. The South is very religious

As we wrote in a previous post, more than four in 10 Americans say they are “very religious,” which is defined as those for whom religion is an important part of their daily lives and who attend services most weeks. Nine of the 10 most religious states are clustered in the South (Utah is the outlier), while the least religious ones are in New England and the West.

Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina have the largest “very religious” populations, with anywhere from 54 percent to 61 percent fitting in that category.


6. The Northeast is not

The atheists and agnostics live in Vermont and New Hampshire, it seems. In both those states, a majority of respondents are nonreligious, with the share accounting for 56 percent in Vermont and 51 percent in New Hampshire. Maine is next, followed by Massachusetts and Oregon. The nonreligious share of the population is a third or more in 19 states.

Mississippi is home to the smallest nonreligious share of the population at just 10 percent. Nonreligious individuals are defined as those for whom religion is not an important part of their daily lives and who do not attend services.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.



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