Correlating Education, Poverty, Health (and Even Death by Firearm) with the Religiosity of States
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study on the religiosity of states. It measured three things; worship attendance, frequency of prayer, and belief in God. Unsurprisingly, the Southern states—also known as the Bible Belt—were found to be the most religious.
I thought it would be interesting to look at the five most and least religious states and compare statistics related to education, poverty, health, and death by firearms.
Five Most Religious States
Five Least Religious States
- New Hampshire
When I compared the top five religious states with the top five lowest religious states, the results were dramatic. The most religious states were, on average, the least educated1, poorest2, and unhealthiest3. People in those states were also twice as likely to be killed by a firearm4. The differences were even more staggering when you removed Alaska from the least religious list. For example, you are almost three times as likely to be killed by a firearm.
Based on these correlations, one could conclude that there is a relationship with being religious and being less educated, having less money, being less healthy and owning, or at the very least, being killed by a gun. All four of which, even without including religion into the mix, usually have a direct relationship with each other.
Religion & Education
Education and access to knowledge have always been the enemy of religion. When critical thought, logic and historical reference are applied to theology, it tears holes into its very foundation. It is no wonder that a culture that is better educated, especially philosophically, would be less religious.
Religion & Poverty
Desperation and fear create the greatest need for hope. Religion provides a pseudo-hope that people can easily cling too. Religion can be used both as a coping mechanism and an explanation for their current state of affairs. Poverty is often related to poor education, and both of those are often related to poor health.
Religion & Health
While education and poverty can have a direct influence on health, the attitudes — specifically religious attitudes towards life — can influence health too. For example, if life after death will be angelic and perfect, there’s really no need to concern yourself with living a healthy lifestyle. Especially if that means you’ll get to heaven quicker 😉
However, I tend to think (from personal experience), that most people in the South comfort eat in order to get relief from the neurosis caused by following and believing in illogical superstitions.
Religion & Guns
At the core of most people’s religious beliefs is fear. Fear of damnation and fear of death. It’s that fear that makes it easy to believe in make believe and it’s that same fear that gets people to unnecessarily arm themselves.
While this article is intermingled with correlations (which aren’t all that scientific), speculation, and personal opinion, I do think there are significant patterns within cultures that can be attributed to — both as a source and symptom — superstitious beliefs.
- 1 “This fourth Smartest State designation is awarded based on 21 factors chosen from Morgan Quitno’s annual reference book, Education State Rankings, 2005-2006. Morgan Quitno Press, 2005
- 2 Percent of People Below Poverty Level in the Past 12 Months (For Whom Poverty Status is Determined). American Community Survey 2004
- 3 Health Index by state. “The Healthiest State designation is awarded based on 21 factors chosen from the year 2005 edition of our annual reference book, Health Care State Rankings. Morgan Quitno Press, 2005
- 4 Number of Deaths Due to Firearms per 100,000 Population, 2002. statehealthfacts.org