By Neal Broverman

Originally published on December 23 2009 7:05 PM ET

Religion has not loosened its grip on the South — a new poll finds that
the most religious states remain those below the Mason-Dixon Line, with Mississippi leading the pack.

A Pew
Forum study asked
respondents whether religion is important in their lives, and 82%
percent of Mississipians said yes. Following Mississippi were Alabama and Arkansas (both at 74%), Louisiana (72%), Tennessee (71%), and South Carolina (70%). The New England states of Vermont and New Hampshire (each at 36%) were the least religious; both states allow same-sex marriage.

While the Pacific Northwest has usually been found to be the least religious area in the nation, New England seems to be pulling ahead.

Another state that is lacking in religious citizens is Sarah Palin's home state of Alaska, with only 37% claiming to be religious.