Variance in Religion by US State

The State Similarity Rating attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on demographics. 20% of a state’s culture score (4% of the overall State Similarity Rating) is allocated for their religious practices. The following is an explanation on how they were calculated:

Weekly Religious Attendance

Utah reported the highest weekly attendance of religious services. It is the only state above 50%. Mormons tend to attend church more than other religious groups in the country. The rest of the states with over 40% of people attending religious services weekly are all in the South. In general, New England has the lowest reported religious service attendance. Vermont has the lowest with less than 25% of its people attending weekly.

Source: Pew Forum

States were categorized into the following groups by percentage attending religious services weekly:
22-27, 27-32, 32-37, 37-42, 42-47, 47-52

Daily Prayer

75% of people in Mississippi say they pray daily, the highest in the country. Many other states in the South are also over 70%. Despite Utah’s high weekly religious attendance, it has a relatively lower rate of people praying daily, at just 61%. Again, states in New England pray the least, with only one third of people in Vermont reporting that they pray daily.

Source: Pew Forum

States were categorized into the following groups by percentage praying daily:
33-40, 40-47, 47-54, 54-61, 61-68, 68-75

Belief in God

In Alabama, just 2% of people report that they do not believe in god. Like daily prayer, the states in the South have the lowest amount of people that do not belief in god. Yet again, Vermont has the highest percentage of people who do not belief in god. It is the only state with over 20%.

Source: Pew Forum

States were categorized into the following groups by percentage that do not believe in god:
2-5, 5-8, 8-11, 11-14, 14-17, 17-20

Belief in Evolution

Due to deeply held religious beliefs, many Americans do not believe in evolution. Less than 20% of people in Alabama Mississippi, and Tennessee believe that humans evolved due to natural processes. In contrast, more 50% of people in people Vermont do. Other states in New England and also California have higher percentages of people who believe in evolution due to natural processes.

Source: Pew Forum

States were categorized into the following groups by percentage that believe in evolution:
18-24, 24-30, 30-36, 36-42, 42-48, 48-54

Religious Denomination

The states with the highest percentage of Catholics are all concentrated around New York. Not only are there many Latinos there, but also many people with Irish and Italian ancestry. Rhode Island (42%) has the highest percentage. New Mexico (34%) has the highest percentage outside of the Northeast, due to many immigrants from Mexico. Obviously, Black Protestant churches are most common in states with high percentages of African Americans, like Mississippi (24%). Evangelical Protestant churches are more common in the South, while Mainline Protestant churches are more common in the North. Utah (55%) is the only state with a high percentage of Mormons, but Idaho (19%) also has a significant percentage. Alaska (5%) has the most Orthodox Christians, since it was once part of Russia. New York (7%) has the most Jewish people. Due to immigration from Asia, Hawaii (8%) has the highest percentage of Buddhists.

Source: Pew Forum

Major Denominations:
Evangelical Protestant, Black Protestant, Mainline Protestant
Roman Catholic
Eastern Orthodox

Religious Groups

Protestant religious groups were further broken into which specific church they attend. There is a large variation in denominations between different regions. Baptists are concentrated in the South, although the first Baptist church in America was actually in Rhode Island. Methodists tend to be highest in states on the border between the North and the South, like Delaware, West Virginia, and Kansas. Lutherans are most common in Minnesota and its surrounding states. This is due to a high amounts of people with Scandinavian ancestry moving there. Non-Denominational churches can be found throughout the country, but there tend to be more on the Pacific Coast. Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Episcopalians. Congregationalist churches are most commonly found in New England. Restorationist churches tend to be located around the Ozark Mountains.

Source: Pew Forum

Major Protestant Denominations:
Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Non-Denominational, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Restorationist, Congregationalist

Obviously there is no one clear way to determine how similar one state is to another. How would you quantify how similar one state is to another?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply