New York not among the most religious states

You can’t be surprised.

Sure, there are tons of churches and synagogues in New York and lots of religious people to fill them.

imagesBut New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley — make that downstate to upstaters — is home to plenty of non-believers, free-thinkers and a lot of people whose faith is not a top priority in their lives.

Right?

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, New York is the 39th most religious state. The ranking is based on New Yorkers’ answer to one, key question: Whether religion is “very important” in their lives.

Only 46% said yes.

The national average is 56%. Mississippi came in first at 82% — way ahead of Alabama and Arkansas at 74%.

Yes, the top 10 is dominated by the South. Just like college football.

And the least religious state?

I would have guessed Washington state, which came in 36th in religious-ness.

Last place was a tie between neighbors New Hampshire and Vermont, where only 36 percent say religion is very important in their New England lives.

What would the Puritans say?

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.