Poll: Only 6 states less religious than D.C.

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DC,People,April Burbank

The District has the second-lowest percentage of "very religious" residents in the nation outside New England, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

The poll classified 30 percent of D.C. residents as "very religious," just ahead of Oregon (31 percent), but far below the national average of 40 percent.

The poll defined "very religious" as people who said religion was an important part of their daily life and typically attend weekly religious services.

Mississippi, Utah and Alabama topped the most-religious list, each with more than 55 percent of "very religious" residents. Vermont was ranked as the least religious state in the nation, at 19 percent.

"Washington, D.C., is very much a career-oriented, work-centric environment and culture -- to a fault. ... And I think that plays into the fact that we're one of the least religious areas of the country," said Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. "It's one of the reasons which also puts Washington out of touch with what's going on with the rest of the culture."

Lauren Anderson Youngblood, spokeswoman for the D.C.-based Secular Coalition for America, said the nation is growing less religious overall and suggested the levels of religious adherence in the District might be related to education.

"All of the statistics do indicate that atheists and agnostics are in general higher-educated," she said. "We know that D.C. specifically is one of the most educated cities in the country, so I'm not sure if that directly correlates, but it seems like a good place to start."

Richard Weinberg, spokesman for Washington National Cathedral, said the cathedral's local congregation is growing, especially among people in their 20s and 30s, despite District residents' busy schedules.

"I think that as wrapped up as Washington can be with power and politics, that people would do well to pause and reflect in a way that's meaningful to them," he said.

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April Burbank

Special to the Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner