A poll released last week links Americans’ measure of religious devotion with geography, noting a clear pattern shared among the Nation’s most-religious (and least-religious) cities.
The Gallup poll, which ranks residents of America’s metropolitan areas from most religious to least, noted the majority of areas where people strongly identify with religion lie predominantly in the South, as well as in Mormon-dominated Utah.
The Provo-Orem, Utah, metro area topped the list, with more than 77 percent of residents who responded identifying themselves as “highly religious” and only 12 percent claiming they are “not religious.” Following Provo as “highly religious” cities are Montgomery, Ala. (64 percent); Jackson, Miss. (63 percent); Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. (56 percent); and Huntsville, Ala. (55 percent).
Other Southern cities also approached the top of the list, including metro areas in South Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. Only one Northern metro — Holland-Grand Haven, Mich. — was listed among the top 10.
For purposes of the survey, “highly religious” means respondents attend worship services weekly or almost weekly.
By contrast, Northern and Western cities abound on the bottom of the chart, with Burlington-South Burlington, Vt., claiming the fewest respondent — 17 percent — who identify themselves as “highly religious,” followed closely by Boulder, Colo. (17 percent); Manchester-Nashua, N.H. (21 percent); Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine (21 percent); and Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif. (23 percent). The metro areas of San Francisco; Eugene, Ore.; Boston; Bremerton, Wash.; and Albany, N.Y., rounded out the bottom 10.
Using the poll’s numbers, it’s simple to relate so-called “religious” areas with residents’ mainstream political leanings, as CNS News has done:
The poll results show that the states with the 10 least religious metro-areas went to Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, while nine of the 10 most religious metro-areas were in states that went to Republican Mitt Romney.
In the bottom five cities on the list — plus San Francisco; Bremerton; Springfield, Mass.; and Bellingham, Wash. — more than 50 percent of those surveyed indicated they were “not religious” at all.
Taken in the context of another Gallup survey done in late 2012, it’s apparent that more Americans identify culturally with religion — primarily Catholicism or Protestant Christianity — than actually practice it in their daily lives. However, the survey does seem to indicate that such a strong cultural connection to Christianity is closely linked with conservative voting patterns in mainstream national politics.