Map of the Day: Religiosity by State

Map credit: Gallup Organization

Statistically, Virginia ranks among the most religious states in the United States, according to a new Gallup report. But among Bible Belt states, Virginia and Florida are the least religious. The numbers are based upon 130,959 interviews conducted in Gallup’s U.S. Daily survey in 2017.

Here’s the breakdown of how Virginians described their adherence to religion:

Very religious — 38%
Moderately religious — 30%
Not religious — 31%

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


18 responses to “Map of the Day: Religiosity by State”

  1. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Kind of scratching my head over this phrase in the report: “Protestants and other non-Mormon and non-Catholic Christians.” What Christian churches would be neither Protestant, Catholic nor Mormon? Greek Orthodox are about the only one’s left, and some would consider them also Catholics, which is why the phrase Roman Catholic is used. Unitarians are certainly Protestants (all 15 of them.) If you aren’t Catholic or Mormon your theological roots include old Martin Luther. High church Episcopalians claim to be Protestants but that’s debatable!

    I guess church attendance is a fair indicator of “religiousity” but church attendance is apparently the only thing the authors are measuring.

    1. Andrew Roesell Avatar
      Andrew Roesell

      Dear Steve,

      We, Orthodox, are not Roman Catholic. See Timothy Ware’s book, _The Orthodox Church_ for a relatively succinct view of the differences.



  2. It has been previously observed that Va. would probably be the second to last state to approve gambling, with only Utah being more opposed. I don’t know if some other issues like marijuana legalization would follow a similar trend. But I presume the gambling stance relates to a certain religious conservatism.

    @Steve- re: 15 Unitarians – all I can say is Repent!

    1. djrippert Avatar

      In 2016 VCU conducted a poll that found 62% of Virginians strongly or somewhat favored the legalization of marijuana. A 2017 Quinnipiac poll found only 35% of Virginians opposed to marijuana legalization. 8 out of 10 Virginians favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana down to a $100 fine instead of today’s misdemeanor. Obviously, despite the consistent majorities of Virginians wanting to legalize marijuana, there has been no action taken by the Imperial Clown Show in Richmond on that topic. Worse yet, despite overwhelming support for decriminalization a bill to implement that was killed in this year’s session by a 7-1 vote in committee.

      If religious beliefs of Virginians are the controlling factor I don’t see how poll after poll can come out in favor of legalization and massively in favor of decriminalization.

      So, why aren’t our elected representatives in Richmond responding to the clear preference of their constituents for legalized or, at least, decriminalized personal use of marijuana?

      As always, the answer lies in a single sentence. Virginia is the most politically corrupt state in America. It is a kleptocracy of vested interests and purchased politicians against the citizenry.

      States that approve medical marijuana use see alcohol sales plummet - States that legalize personal marijuana use see the sale of alcohol fall even further.

      Go to VPAP and see the amount of money that beer and wine distributors pour into the pockets of Virginia politicians. Then contemplate the fact that campaign contributions in Virginia can and are used for personal expenses unrelated to a campaign. This is legalized bribery. There is no other way to view this.

      The few members of the General Assembly who have the moral fiber to try to reign in this legalized bribery (Chap Petersen for example) are easily and quickly defeated by the majority of state legislators who think that lining their personal pockets with the money of vested interests is how a democracy should work.

      There are other states where the special interests control the politicians. However, some of those states have a “fail safe” against legalized corruption called a ballot initiative. Those states allow citizens to go through a signature gathering process whereby an issue can be forced onto the ballot whether the politicians like it or not. Since the alcohol industry does not use legal bribery on ordinary citizens those citizens gain no monetary advantage from supporting the special interests of the alcohol industry. Virginia has no such citizen generated referenda process. After all, that would dilute the ability of our elected officials to personally profit from special interests. If Virginia had such a process I would guarantee that personal marijuana possession would already be decriminalized and I would guess that it would be legalized or well on its way to being legalized.

      When it comes to politics in Virginia it’s not the religious feelings that matter most. It is the fact that Virginia is America’s most politically corrupt state.

      1. Steve Haner Avatar
        Steve Haner

        Your cynical view of the process in Richmond has a strong basis in reality, but I really don’t think it is the wine and beer lobby standing in the way of changing the marijuana laws. I blame a more general fear of voter backlash, plus the very real complication that federal law is still supreme.

        1. djrippert Avatar

          I’ll predict that before the mid-terms the Trump Administration (along with Congress) will dramatically change the federal view of marijuana – taking it off schedule 1 and confirming that the federal government will not interfere in states which have legalized marijuana. Nine states and DC have legalized marijuana. Here’s an interesting article about some very recent comments from the Trump Administration –

          Putting aside legalization, the polls are heavily tilted toward decriminalization in Virginia. Polls come in at 8 out of 10 Virginians in favor of decriminalization. How much voter backlash could there be? North Carolina somehow decriminalized the possession of relatively small amounts of marijuana. While possession is still called a criminal misdemeanor in the Tar Heel State there is no possibility of jail time and a $200 fine.

          As for money to politicians, VPAP has records going back to 1996. You can review donors by category, sub-category or individual donor. For all the hoopla about Dominion, alcohol distributers and brokers contributed $20.5m (with an additional $3.9m from alcohol manufacturers) while electrical utilities contributed $19m. The only two sub-categories I could see higher than alcohol distributors and brokers were real estate developers and realtors. During the most recent election cycle in Virginia (2016 – 2017) alcohol distributors and brokers dramatically outspent electrical utilities … $3.2m vs $2.5m. In 2016 – 2017 alcohol manufacturers added another $440k in donations while alcohol retailers coughed up $105k. A two year total of $3.7m or $1.85m per year. That’s $13,214 for each member of the General Assembly (while acknowledging that is inflated since some amount went to the governor’s race).

          There’s a lot of money slopping around out there.

      2. i’m with you there, DJR and Steve both. But do we really need a CA style right-to-a-binding-referendum for a cure? Instead of forcing the people to do the job for themselves despite electing reps to do it for them, is there a way forward through electoral or campaign reform?

        1. djrippert Avatar

          I think you either have to take the money out of Virginia politics or you need to give the citizens a way to bypass the bought and paid for politicians. If we limited campaign funding and prohibited politicians from spending campaign donations on anything other than obvious campaign expenses (with strict and detailed spending documentation requirements) these problems go away.

          However, in one of the very rare states to allow unlimited campaign donations along with virtually no rules on how the donated money is spent you end up with a small circle of special interests providing tens of thousands of dollars per year to our politicians to spend however they see fit. This is legalized bribery no matter how you slice it.

          Acbar, how do you get state politicians who are taking legal bribes to stop taking legal bribes? You vote enough of them out of office until the ones getting elected make the legal bribery illegal. But a state with off year elections, extreme gerrymandering and unlimited campaign contributions makes “throwing the bums out” very difficult. There are also fewer and fewer newspapers of statewide significance. So, citizens probably don’t even know the shenanigans our political class is up to.

          How was Virginia’s atrocious “gifts to politicians” habit curbed? Federal legal action. Despite McDonnell getting acquitted the publicity surrounding Governor Rolex did, in fact, bring about much needed change. I think the same will have to happen with the legalized bribery in Virginia. Campaign donations are not taxed when received by the politician because they are expected to be used for actual campaign expenses, not personal items. It’s high time the IRS began auditing the campaign spending of Virginia politicians. Campaign donation money spent on personal items is income and subject to taxation. All it would take would be for a few high profile income tax evasion cases to be brought against our political class in relation to their campaign donation spending for change to occur.

          It’s a shame that our state politicians have both insulated themselves from accountability to the voters and used their offices for personal gain. No properly constructed state constitution should allow either of those two things to happen.

        2. LarrytheG Avatar

          Citizens in Virginia need the right to citizen-initiated referenda. It’s crystal clear the folks in Richmond don’t give a rats behind about the corporate money problem. There is no bigger example than Dominion if my view but there are countless others who know money works and know that the GA in Richmond is not transparent as to process.

          The “Virginia Way” really means “we know better how you should be governed”.

      3. DJR- ran a 5K race last weekend and Chap Peterson was 2 ahead of me. Unfortunately I did not realize that, or I would have joined his fan club. He is way younger than me, so age-adjusted, I actually beat him.

        Whoa Nelly! Va. more corrupt than NJ and La.? Then we need to write a book about it. The way I look at it is Va. gives a lot of power to the rural part of the state, which historically had the people and power. Now we have more populace NoVA and CoVA (Coastal VA) consisting of “newcomers” who are not getting their preferences met too well yet.

        1. P.S.- The 3 states I’ve lived as an adult in are NJ, La., Va.

        2. djrippert Avatar

          In Virginia the corruption is legal so you don’t see the court cases that happen in other states where corruption is illegal. Chap Petersen ought to get his ass in gear and run for governor. He’s one of the very best politicians in Richmond and has proven willing to take on issues that frustrate his colleagues in the General Assembly but are absolutely the right thing for Virginians.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    I guess I’d be a kiljoy if I mentioned this:

    ” White evangelical support of Donald Trump is at an all-time high, according to a new study. The poll, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute in March, found that a full 75 percent of white evangelicals surveyed had a positive opinion of Donald Trump, compared to just 22 percent holding an unfavorable view. Among white evangelical men, that number is even higher — 81 percent — while 71 percent of white evangelical women also view Trump favorably. The poll has been tracking Trump’s ratings since he first became a Republican primary candidate in March 2015.”

  4. I just don’t equate church attendance and faith practice with “religiosity,” which to me implies a fundamentalist/evangelical, often self-righteous view of the world.

    1. djrippert Avatar

      Larry’s chart (above) confirms your thinking. The only category of religious belief where the majority believes all drugs should be illegal is “evangelical” (note: I don’t consider “conservative” to be a religious belief set although some conservatives make me wonder).

      The question in Larry’s graphs is awkward. However, I think it’s safe to assume that if you don’t believe ALL drugs should be illegal then you almost certainly believe that marijuana should be legal. It’s hard to imagine many people who would think heroin should be legal while marijuana should not be legal.

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    An excellent piece in yesterday’s TD penned by a physician takes a pretty dim view of legalizing even marijuana, and it won’t take long to see if some of the dire predictions of doom play out in places like Colorado. It is one thing to make simple possession a minor offense, but something else entirely to fully embrace the pot economy as the basis for tourism. I don’t mind that Virginia is not rushing to the front on this one.

    For one thing it is now turning out that the medical benefits (clearly real for epilepsy and some other things) can be captured better by derivatives that do not fill the lungs with smoke or bake the brain.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    Can’t resist posting this to see responses:

    ” Think it’s harmless? Now nine in ten teens at drug clinics are being treated for marijuana use”

    is it for real or fake news?

Leave a Reply