Evangelicals are America’s most powerful religious affiliation. As a group, white evangelicals form one-fifth of all registered voters in the United States and make up one-third of all voters who identify or lean Republican.
With such a prominent group influencing U.S. politics and democracy, 24/7 Wall St. found the share of each state’s population who identify as evangelical with data from public policy think tank Pew Research Center.
> Pct. evangelical: 20%
> 2007-2014 change, evangelical: +2%
> Most common religion: Catholic
> Fastest growing religion: Unaffiliated, +6%
> Median household income: $60,960
While there are many different evangelical sects, they are unified by certain core beliefs. Central to evangelism is the belief that only conversion, or a personal “born again” experience, leads to salvation. The emphasis is also on spreading the word of God (or evangelizing) through one-on-one sessions or organized missions.
Compared with other high income nations, the U.S. stands out as exceptionally religious. Of the 70.6% of Americans who consider themselves Christian, evangelism has consistently been the most popular denomination. In fact, at least one quarter of the population in nearly 30 states is affiliated with the evangelical faith.
The global pattern of low religious affiliation in high income nations can also be observed among states. The median household income exceeds the national median in only four of the 25 states with the higher shares of people identifying as evangelicals. The opposite is true among the states with relatively low shares of evangelicals.
As a whole, evangelism has shrunk in the United States. While still accounting for 25% of all U.S. religious affiliation, the share of evangelicals has decreased a whole percentage point in just seven years. Notably, the largest decline occurred in the evangelical stronghold region of the South, where self-identified evangelicals dropped from 37% to 34% of the population between 2007 and 2014.
Meanwhile, the religious affiliation that has flourished the most during this period is no religion at all. The “no association” group, which comprised 16% of the population in 2007, today comprises 23% of the population — the second largest belief system in the United States.
To identify the most and least evangelical states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a 2014 survey of all 50 states and their religious makeup by the Pew Research Center. Growth trends were determined by comparing the percentage of adherents to the religion in a previous survey conducted in 2007. The sample size was over 35,000 Americans.