The South has risen again, at least in terms of belief in God. Mississippi is the America's most religious state, according to a Pew Forum study on the levels of devotion in America, which asked respondents whether religion is important in their lives. Eighty-two percent of Mississipians said yes.
It says Alaska ranked in the lowest grouping and Ore & Wa are among the lower on the list. Living most of my live in those three states, I would never have thought there was any lack of extensive permeation of the Christian faith in those places.
Growing up in Anchorage, I even had fair exposure to Buddhism and Shintoism (solid Asian communities), lots of "Aquarius new-agey earth-stuff" , and Eskimo/Native American beliefs. Judaism and the Muslim faith seemed played the lesser part part of my personal exposures in my first 20-plus years. Most of what I was exposed to regarding those faiths (like the non-believer stuff) was from the view of Christians or history books/texts/classes.
That was the case, at least, until at about 13 yo, I "quit" the church and began studying a number of related matters with serious and life-long, interest (pre-internet I had to use these weird things called libraries).
I had very little contact with agnostics/atheists. Most conversation about such things came from believers, usually focused on the "damned sou" and often rather hostile reactions to non-belief (back then anyway). Non-believers were wrong in a seriously bad way and needed to be fought and corrected either by generally stifling/shutting down any spreading of non-belief or by converting "them."
At least that was the popular take I got growing up. I never heard much from the actual non-believers themselves, and noted they never really congregated anywhere to "spread their message."
I guess times have changed a bit.
It's always interesting to me to explore the role environment plays in development. Mine was likely influenced by growing up in a geographical region where autonomy, individuality, and independence were thematic, as well as it having been a period in time when there was a less socially rigid, more free-form and open-minded backdrop.
Obviously many factors are involved in any individual's developmental journey, but that initial (in my case, diverse) environment had a solid shaping effect on me, as such does on humans in general.
Many of us who grew up in Alaska talk about the sense of openness, autonomy, independence, freedom, and just "difference" that seemed such a part of that place.
Here's another linked article on the study with a little more statistical info.
WASHINGTON — Want to be almost certain you'll have religious neighbors? Move to Mississippi. Prefer to be in the least religious state? Venture to Vermont. A new Gallup Poll, based on more than 350,000 interviews, finds that the Magnolia State is the one where the most people — 85% — say yes when asked "Is religion an important part of your daily life?"