In this article we take a look at the 30 most religious cities in the US. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 10 most religious cities in the US.
The United States of America was the first nation in the entire world to be built on the separation of religion and state, making it the first secular country in the history, far surpassing most European nations which right now are actually more secular than the US is.
After all, there’s a difference between being a secular country and an irreligious country. In the former, religion exists as a significant part of many people’s lives, but it’s just not the basis on which the country is governed. Basically, your religion has nothing to do with the affairs of the state or how it’s governed. On the other hand, an irreligious country is that where most of the people either do not believe in religion, do not identify with any religion or religion does not play a major role in their lives.
And so, while the US is a secular country, religion still dominates the lives of most of its citizens. After all, over 75% of the population in this country of over 300 million people believes in a religion. While Christianity is by far the most dominant religion, with over 70% of the population being Christian, there are several other religions with major followings as well including Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, even though all these minorities combined account for just 6% of the population. The second biggest common group after Christianity is actually that of non-believers, who are agnostic, atheist or just don’t have any religion, at nearly 23%. In 1990, this number was just 8.2%. In percentage terms, there has been no higher growth.
However, while irreligion grows in the US at the expense of religion, that does not mean that religion, and Christianity in particular, hold little power in the country. It’s just that this influence varies from state to state, city to city, town to town. One of the two largest parties in the US, the Republican Party, is predominantly conservative and religious, and has particular support from evangelical Christians, who are also more conservative. Again, this is very different than other developed nations, where religious adherence is not even close to the levels that are present in the United States. After all, there’s a huge area in the United States, which is known as the Bible Belt, where church attendance is even higher than the national average and religion is a major part of politics and influence.
Like I mentioned earlier, the influence and impact of religion varies deeply across what is an incredibly diverse country in every way. For example, New Hampshire is the least religious state in the country, where just 20% of the people admitting to being deeply religious and claiming that it plays an important role in their lives. On the other hand, we have Mississippi, where 63% of the people are deeply religious, and hence, is the most religious states in the US. Even within cities, you can find communities which are very liberal and very diverse. However, there are some cities and MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) which on an overall level, are quite religious. These are the focus of our articles. These will not be the richest cities in the world, as when you have money, you are statistically less likely to find the need to believe in religion. That’s because most religions often focus on benefits for the poor and the salvation that they can attain in the hereafter. After all, there is a reason why the poorest nations on Earth are also the most religious.
Even then religion does form a strong influence on consumer behavior and sentiments, and sometimes finds its way into the economic wiring as well. There are some notable instances in the business world where companies have been known to champion certain religions subtly. Sometimes brands show a religious bent in their product offerings, like Forever 21 sometimes printing bible verses in their shopping bags or Marriot (NASDAQ:MAR)Hotels chains putting the Book of Mormon in bedside tables of hotel rooms.
Since the US census does not ask about religion, there is very little updated information available about the beliefs of a population in a particular city. Polls and surveys on the same are also not very common, and surveys such as those from Gallup are 6 years old, and a lot can change in 6 years. After all, if someone told you in 2014 that Donald Trump would be the next president of the country, you would have them committed. Thus, we headed over to the Public Religion Research Institute and determined the cities with the highest percentage of believers in both 2018 and 2019. We gave 70% weightage to the 2019 rankings as they are the most recent ones. You might also want to take a look at the 30 least religious cities in the US as well. So let’s take a look at the cities in the US where religion is still a part of daily life for most, starting with number 30:
Unaffiliated percentage in 2018: 27
Unaffiliated percentage in 2019: 24
Less than a quarter of Chicago’s population is unaffiliated with any religion, while the majority in the city is Christian. Apart from Christianity, there are several other religions such as Islam, Judaism and Buddhism.