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Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Mormon-dominated Utah trails Mississippi as most religious state — barely

The Beehive State is still abuzz with religion.

For the third straight year, Mormon-dominated Utah ranks just behind Mississippi as the nation’s most religious state.

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According to a 2013 state-by-state Gallup Poll, 60 percent of Utahns describe themselves as "very religious," up from 56 percent in 2012 and just shy of Mississippi’s 61 percent (also up from the its previous 58 percent showing).

The South rose again in the survey. Eight of the top 10 religious states are firmly planted in the so-called Bible Belt, with Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina rounding out the top five.

Generally, the least religious states are in New England — led by Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts — and the West (save for Utah and, at No. 13, Idaho).

"Utah is the exceptional state," writes Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport on the pollster’s website. "Mormons are the most religious of any category or denomination Gallup routinely measures, and Utah’s majority Mormon population clearly explains why Utah stands out so remarkably from its much-less-religious neighboring states."

Nationally, 41 percent of Americans classify themselves as "very religious," meaning that they rate religion as an important part of their lives and that they attend services practically every week. The latest religiosity number is up a bit from 2012’s 40 percent.

The results are based on more than 174,000 interviews conducted as part of daily tracking in 2013, according to Gallup’s website. Margins of error for the nationwide and state-by-state surveys range from 1 percentage point to 6 percentage points.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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