On the question of the importance of religion in ones life, only 36% of New Hampshire residents feel it’s important. On the other end of the spectrum, 82% of Missippians rate religion important. Here’s an extract of the whole report: http://vyoma108.blogspot.com/2008/06/religion-in-america-massachusetts-among.html
That’s a very significant difference in the number of believers. I would imagine that many Christians would think that given the disparity between these two states Mississippi would have certain positive characteristics that are reflective of a God fearing populace. Certainly, with their claims of a higher morality they might suspect that NH is a den of iniquity, a veritable Sodom and Gomorrah compared to the heavily Jesus freaked state of Mississippi.
But not surprisingly the complete opposite is true. Let’s examine the facts:
While New Hampshire had the 4th lowest violent crime rate in the country, Mississippi is the 21st highest in violent crime. http://www.morganquitno.com/dang06.htm
When it comes to poverty NH is ranked as the state with the least number of people below the poverty level. Mississippi has the second highest number of people in poverty in the country. http://www.census.gov/statab/ranks/rank34.html
The average calculated IQ of the populace of the state of NH is 104.2, the second highest IQ of all states (Massachusetts was first with 104.3). Compare this to Mississippi’s IQ of 94.2 … the LOWEST IQ average of any State in the Union!!! http://www.people.vcu.edu/~mamcdani/Publications/McDaniel%20(2006)%20Estimating%20state%20IQ.pdf
Divorce rate for NH is 3.3 per 1,000 people, below the national average of 3.6. For Mississippi it’s 4.5 per 1,000 people, 36% higher than NH and higher than the national average. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0923080.html
Teen pregnancy in NH is second lowest in the country. Mississippi, ranked third highest. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/2006/09/12/USTPstats.pdf
So what does this all mean? Well, the differences are certainly intriguing, and should cause the religiously infected to rethink their misconceptions about the impact religion has on the quality of life, morality, family values, et al.
To be fair, there could be any number of factors other than/in addition to religiosity that could influence these results. Thus, as thinking people, and adherents to the scientific method, we cannot simply assume a direct correlation exists between high religiosity and higher crime, higher poverty, lower intelligence levels, etc., etc. Not with certainty.
But I’ll tell you this; given the circumstantial evidence, if I were going on a canoe trip in the back country; wanted an intelligent conversation with a random person; wanted my children to receive a good education; or expected to feel safe walking the streets or in my home, Mississippi wouldn’t be among my top 47 choices. I’d pick a state where the vast majority of people don’t believe in angels and devils, or talk in tongues, or handle snakes, or symbolically consume their Man-god, or walk around praising the Lard, or wave their hands and fall down in spasms of hyper-religious ecstasy every Sunday. In other, words the less religious the better.
I am going to suggest NH change its state motto from “Live Free or Die”, to “Land of the Godless, and Loving it.”