Defining the Bible Belt: What states do Americans think make up the region?

Linley SandersData Journalist
February 08, 2023, 9:51 PM GMT+0

The Bible Belt of the U.S. is a cultural description of an area of the country where Christianity and religious traditions play a large role in everyday life. While the Bible Belt refers to a geographic region of the country, it's not entirely clear which area of the country: there is not a clearly defined or widely accepted list of states that belong to the Bible Belt.

To measure the boundaries of the Bible Belt, YouGov asked Americans which states they considered to be part of it. The 1,000 U.S. adult citizens chose from a list of states that included much of the southern half of the country, plus other nearby states, to determine the popular consensus on the region's boundaries. YouGov provided people with a U.S. map to reference and — for each state included in the poll — asked them to say whether "all of the state," "part of the state," or "none of the state" is a part of the Bible Belt.

Americans say the Bible Belt is concentrated around two southern states: Alabama and Mississippi. About half of Americans believe each state is "entirely" in the loosely defined region. At least two in five Americans also say each of Tennessee (45%), South Carolina (44%), Arkansas (44%), Louisiana (41%), Kentucky (40%), and Georgia (40%) is entirely in the Bible Belt.

The informal boundaries of the Bible Belt region get larger when ranking states by the share of Americans who say each state is entirely or partially in the Bible Belt. Majorities of Americans believe that 14 U.S. states are at least partially in the Bible Belt: Mississippi (70% say this), Alabama (69%), Georgia (67%), Tennessee (67%), South Carolina (67%), Louisiana (66%), Kentucky (64%), Arkansas (64%), Texas (61%), North Carolina (60%), Oklahoma (59%), Missouri (55%), Virginia (54%), and West Virginia (54%).

What do people who live in the Bible Belt think?

The idea of the Bible Belt is different among those who live there from those who do not live there. At least four in five Americans who consider themselves to live in the Bible Belt say that each of nine states are at least partially in the Bible Belt: Alabama (89%), Tennessee (89%), South Carolina (88%), Mississippi (88%), Georgia (87%), Louisiana (85%), Arkansas (82%), Texas (81%), and North Carolina (80%).

While people who live in the Bible Belt generally agree with people who do not about what states are part of the region. Self-defined Bible Belt inhabitants are particularly more likely than Americans who do not live in the area or are unsure to say Florida is at least partially in the Bible Belt (73% vs. 43%), as well as South Carolina (88% vs. 59%), Tennessee (89% vs. 60%), Alabama (62% vs. 89%) and Georgia (87% vs. 61%).

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

See the results from this YouGov poll conducted on September 8 - 11, 2022


Image: Adobe Stock (rudi1976)

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