Gallup just released a poll where over 350,000 people were asked, "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" The data showed a wide disparity among the states. In Mississippi, 85% answered "yes," while in Vermont, only 42% answered "yes." Needless to say, that's an incredible margin of difference.
Here are some of the findings:
Most religious states: Mississippi (85%), Alabama (82%), South Carolina (80%), Tennessee (79%), and Louisiana (78%).
Besides Vermont, among the least religious states: Oregon (53%) and Washington (52%).
So apparently, the south really is the "Bible belt" while the Pacific Northwest is far more secular than most other regions of the country.
Of course, when you look at the Gallup poll, you realize that there are limitations. When people were asked, "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" there was definition of "religion" offered. Surely, many of those people answered in the affirmative from the perspective of some kind of cultural Christianity. As one man said, "In the South, being raised right includes knowing how you are supposed to respond to a question like that posed by Gallup."
And yet, at the same time, it is a stark reminder to us, particularly those of us in the Pacific Northwest, that the task of the church is to proclaim the gospel to those who are lost in darkness.