A recent Gallup Poll reportedly has listed the ten states that are the "most religious" in America. The percentage of persons in that state who responded that "religion is the most important thing in my life" is given by the state's name.
1. Mississippi: 85%
2. Alabama: 82%
3. South Carolina: 80%
4. Tennessee: 79%
5. Louisiana: 78%
6. Arkansas: 78%
7. Georgia: 76%
8. North Carolina: 76%
9. Oklahoma: 75%
10. (tie) Kentucky, Texas: 74%
Some observations: Florida and West Virgina did not make the list. All the states are "Red" states, giving some claim to the assertion that God is a Republican. Utah did not make the list.
One wonders about Florida,with its large senior population, but then most of them have come from the less religious north or from "godless" Communistic Cuba.
Of course the poll does not define "religious". If it is considered to be ritualistic, anti-intellectualism, skewed in its belief system with a tendency to conformity, then the poll is probably correct. Much of popular "religion" today is a blending of "self-serving love" for God and America with personal salvation thrown in. The concept of love for neighbor (social justice) is layered over by a sense of rugged individualism.
I remember Paul Harvey once saying that politics and religion are the last refuges of scalawags.
It saddens me to note that Texas is tied with Kentucky for tenth on the list. [However, it is just a matter of time before Texas turns blue, as our Hispanic population rises. Bienvenidos "non-religous" Democrats.]
A distinction can be made between being "religious" and being spiritual. Years ago I worked at a state mental hospital and observed a patient who, each morning, performed a set of rituals: Leaving the side door of our ward, he would walk two steps down the sidewalk, stop, turn around and take one step back. Th en he would turn around and take three steps forward. Again the reverse step back. Then four steps forward until he reached the end of the sidewalk. He then walked to the right, with one foot on the curb and one on the grass.
This "ritual" behavior went on for around thirty minutes, until he had reached the front door of our ward. He would then come in to the day room and sit. This ritual behavior a psychiatrist said, provided him with a sense of comfort and control. He performed it daily, religiously.
Insofar as the religious rituals performed by those in Mississippi, Alabama, et. al., provide comfort and control I am okay with it. They go to church on Sunday, sing familiar hymns, pray for forgiveness, hear a sermon and go home. Religious rituals. Religion it may be, but Christianity or Judaism it probably is not.
Jesus denounced the religious persons of his day: the Pharisees and the Scribes. He said things like "sell your goods and give them to the poor", "turn the other cheek," heal the sick, visit those in jail. The religious persons were caught up in praying in public, publicly giving money to the temple, observing the Mosaic law..
Many religious persons today would find the disapproving glance of Jesus falling on them, in spite of, or because of their ritual adherence.
For some perverse reason these "most religious" states are also the ones where militias are being formed, where hatred for "different persons" (blacks, latinos, homosexuals, Muslims) is high, where disrespect for the President of the USA is openly displayed, where "secession" is being talked, where dissension is shouted down, where science-based teaching is ridiculed. These "religious" states are sprouting the signs of radical extremism we find in many of the Middle Eastern countries against which we are fighting.
The foundation of their religion is not love but hate, not a concern for the nation, but an attempt to feel important, and powerful, not a concern for the people around them but a desire to force everyone to think and be like them. To be cited for being "most religious" should not be a thing of pride, but a call to humble confession.