Poll: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont Are Least Religious States

There's a shift in American religion and spirituality, and it may be most apparent on New England college campuses.

A new Pew Research poll shows Americans are becoming less religious, and Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are the least religious states in the nation.

"They're not frequenting formal places of worship. But they're still seeking aspects of life that keep them grounded," said Rev. Bob Ives, the director of religion and spiritual life for Bowdoin College.

While the results suggest Americans are not as religious as they once were, they say their spirituality has increased.

"Right now, I don't quite identify with any certain group, but I still have a feeling that there's something out there," said Bowdoin College student Dhivya Singaram.

The poll found 89 percent of Americans are certain God exists, down from 92 percent in 2007. But there's a seven percent increase in Americans who consider themselves spiritual - now about 60 percent of adults.

"Organized religion in general does not have a good name," said Reza Jalai, coordinator of multicultural affairs at the University of Southern Maine.

The poll found these trends are most pronounced among young adults - the millennial generation. Jalali sees it among his own students.

"They're seekers," he said. "They're searching. They're studying different religions."

"I think most people are disillusioned with religion," said Bowdoin College student Austin Stern.

"New Englanders, Mainers, are very independent, quite feisty," said Ives. "And I think they tend to create their own kind of spirituality, as well."

Ives says his job is as busy as ever - not necessarily organizing church services, but holding one-on-one meetings with students to help them find meaning in life.

"Forging and creating helpful, thoughtful, peaceful ways of life," he explained.

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