Survey Mississippi More Religious Than Iran

02.12.09 | FL News Team

Folks in Mississippi are more religious than in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Alaska, they're as ambivalent toward faith as in Israel. Vermont's agnosticism ranks with Switzerland's. That's the finding of a new Gallup poll, which mapped people's "religious fervor" around the world and in all 50 U.S. states.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans said yes when Gallup asked if religion was an important part of their daily lives. That is well below the world average of 82-percent. But it is substantially higher than other developed nations such as Japan, where three-quarters of respondents offered collective shrugs to spiritual matters. 

At the bottom end was Estonia, which emerged from decades of official communist atheism to firmly embrace more atheism. Only 14-percent of the Baltic nation's population said religion figured in their daily doings. At the opposite end was Egypt, which topped the piety index at 100-percent.

Gallup's analysts found that poorer nations tended to be more religious than rich ones, and the same pattern held true among U.S. states. Alabama and South Carolina followed closely behind Mississippi. All three had at least 80-percent of respondents say religion was important to them, ranking them about even with Iran and Lebanon. 

New England leads the country's non-religious, with Vermont registering only 42-percent of respondents saying they're religious. New Hampshire and Maine rounded out the top three.

Alaska, which ranked fifth for least-religious states, had 51-percent of respondents say religion mattered on a daily basis. That was roughly the same percentage as Israel, Singapore and Serbia.

Gallup polled a thousand people in each foreign country and more than 355-thousand Americans.