For those of us who love maps, Gallup today has put out a nifty set illustrating the differential religious makeup of the American states. The maps are based on new data -- survey research conducted earlier this year -- but there's no big news here: the Northeast is the most Catholic region, the South the most Protestant, Utah the most Mormon and New York the most Jewish. And the Pacific Northwest and northern New England have the biggest percentages of non-religious folks. Here is Gallup's analysis of what it calls a "remarkable pattern of religious dispersion in the U.S.,'' with an interesting unanswered question about Vermont:
"A good deal of the religious dispersion across the states is explainable by historical immigration patterns -- particularly the impact of the large waves of European Catholics and Jews who came through ports of entry in the Middle Atlantic states in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The geographic concentration of Mormons in and around Utah reflects the cross-country migration of that group in the mid-1800s from Illinois and other Eastern states to their new home. The fact that certain states like Oregon and Vermont consist disproportionately of residents with no religious identity is more difficult to explain, with hypotheses focusing on the particular and idiosyncratic cultures of those states and/or the migration of certain types of Americans to those states over the decades."
Here's the map about Catholicism:
And, finally, a map showing states by percentage of non-religious people: