At The Monkey Cage, John Sides notes that this map is misleading; in almost every state, a solid majority of people say that religion is an important part of their lives. What this map does then is (unintentionally) perpetuate a familiar stereotype about religiosity: Americans on the (liberal) coasts are thoroughly godless, while “heartland” and Southern Americans are full of that old time religion. Indeed, all this map really reflects is our national conception of “religiosity.” The simple fact is that for the past thirty or so years, the public face of “religion” has been Southern, white and evangelical. And the public figures (politicians or otherwise) that we think of as being “religious” typically come from that milleu. Indeed, I’d argue that Republicans are perceived as being “more religious” in large part because the GOP is a mostly southern, evangelical party. If liberal, mainline Protestantism or Catholicism were the dominant religions in our public life, then I’m fairly sure surveys of this sort would reflect that.
(cross-posted from U.S. of J.)