Religion, Education, and Poverty: How Christianity is Actively Hurting America

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Christianity:  Keeping the Poorest and Least Educated at the Bottom

Some of you may have seen the new Gallup poll that illustrates which states are the most religious.  If you have not, you can read about it at Gallup here.  Here is a list of the most and least religious States.

The most religious States in order are as follows:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Utah
  3. Alabama
  4. Louisiana
  5. Arkansas
  6. South Carolina
  7. Tennessee
  8. North Carolina
  9. Georgia
  10. Oklahoma

The least religious States in order are as follows:

  1. Vermont
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Maine
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Alaska
  6. Oregon
  7. Nevada
  8. Washington
  9. Connecticut
  10. District of Columbia

There are some trends here worth noting.  The most religious States all voted Republican in the 2008 Presidential election.  The exception to the rule was North Carolina which voted Democrat.  Many reasons have been given showing why this exception occurred.  The most accepted are that Obama did a great job mobilizing the Democratic base there and got them out to vote, African Americans voted in higher numbers in NC than in any previous election and they voted for Obama, and perhaps most importantly, the voting occurred over 17 days in NC, the results of those earlier votes helped Obama to mobilize people.  In fact, he lost the general vote on Election Day and in the end only defeated McCain by .4%—49.9% to 49.5%.  So yes, North Carolina may have voted Democratic, but there appear to be several reasons for the anomaly.

The least religious States all voted Democrat, with the exception of Alaska.  Alaska voted Republican. While I have not done an official study of why Alaskans voted Republican, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Vice Presidential nomination, Sarah Palin is from Alaska.  It is worth considering the idea that her running may be at least in part if not all of the reason for breaking the trend.

The above poll becomes even more interesting when taken in conjunction with the last U.S. Census’ numbers on the most and least educated States.  This poll looked at the number of people with advanced degrees (post-bachelor).  Here are where the above States rank in terms of education and how they voted.  The ranking list goes to 51 as it includes the District of Columbia.  You can read it in full here.

In order of Most religious (education rank and how they voted in 2008 in parentheses)

  1. Mississippi (47) (Rep)
  2. Utah (24) (Rep)
  3. Alabama (41) (Rep)
  4. Louisiana (50) (Rep)
  5. Arkansas (51) (Rep)
  6. South Carolina (34) (Rep)
  7. Tennessee (38) (Rep)
  8. North Carolina (31) (Dem)
  9. Georgia (23) (Rep)
  10. Oklahoma (45) (Rep)

The least religious states (education rank in parentheses)

  1. Vermont (9) (Dem)
  2. New Hampshire (10) (Dem
  3. Maine (29) (Dem)
  4. Massachusetts (2) (Dem)
  5. Alaska (22)  (Rep)
  6. Oregon (17) (Dem)
  7. Nevada (46) (Dem)
  8. Washington (13) (Dem)
  9. Connecticut (4) (Dem)
  10. District of Columbia (1) (Dem)

These findings while most likely not completely shocking are at the very least quite interesting.  It would appear that with a few exceptions, that the less educated a State the more religious it happens to be and the greater the likelihood that it voted Republican.  There are two exceptions to be noted, both Georgia and Utah were in the top half when it comes to education.

The converse is also true, the less religious and more educated States tended to vote Democrat.  Once again there are two exceptions.   Maine and Nevada were in the lower half when it came to education.

The facts that these two polls illustrate, even with their “exceptions to the rule”, is quite fascinating.   First, it is a further affirmation of the many studies that have shown a direct relationship between education and religion.  The fact of the matter is that the more educated people become, the more they trend away from religion.  This is a fact which most atheists are already aware.  It becomes very difficult to buy into religion once one has learned a key component of higher education: critical thinking.

There is one other study worth noting.  If you compile a list of the wealthiest and most poverty stricken States in the country you will see a great deal of overlap here as well.  Almost every State that is listed above as less educated and more religious is in the lower half when it comes to wealth—most are in the bottom 10!  One does not need an advanced degree to notice that the majority of these States are in the South.  (The converse is also true.  The more educated and less religious predominantly make up the top half and top 10.  You can read more on that here.)

What is happening in the Southern part of the United States?  How can the poorest and least educated members of our country be voting for the Republican Party?  Isn’t this the Party that is seeking to end government programs to help the poor, the uninsured, and the undereducated?  It most certainly is.  This is the Party that is against college degrees and wants to cut education spending.  This is the Party that wants to reduce the amount of money paid out through the various welfare programs.  This is the country that does not want to medically insure the unemployed and also wants to make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.  The list goes on and on—and none of it benefits the less educated and more poor.  The only common theme between the majority of people in those States and the Republican Party is Christianity.  There is nothing else.  We are left, in the 21st century staring, open-mouthed in astonishment, at the fact that people will destroy their financial, educational, and medical well being because of Christianity in what is supposed to be one of the more educated countries on the planet.

When people say that religion does more harm than good, we often point to Third World countries for examples.  That is not necessary.  We need look further than our own borders. American citizens vote against their own needs for no other reason than the fact that they are Christians.  What a sad state of affairs.

Thanks for Reading.  I look forward to your Comments.



10 thoughts on “Religion, Education, and Poverty: How Christianity is Actively Hurting America

  1. Catriona_Popoff from Creston, BC, Canada

    Good luck poking logic-shaped holes in people's reasoning.
    I will attempt to do the same.

  2. reasonbeing from Rochester, MN, United States Post author

    Thanks Catriona and RB. RB, I saw both of those studies Thursday night and it was so inescapable in my mind. It was not far of a stretch for me to go looking for the one on poverty. I must admit, I do not find the results surprising per se, but they do, at worst, reaffirm what I think many of us already thought.

  3. Challenge Religion from Waikanae, Wellington, New Zealand

    The evidence to support the socio-economic/political relationship correlation is literally quite damning and speaks for itself.
    In Steven Pinker's latest book 'the better angels……' he provides a lot of data that shows which societies/states are dragging their heels in the civilising process………
    It is really strikingly obvious that if you bring up your kid in a certain way the likelihood is they will hold/pass on the same views to their kids. The southern states seem to be less forgiving in their nature and hold the 'eye for an eye' mandate type of mentality…….the bible in one hand the sword in the other!!

  4. -PS. 14- from Eagle, ID, United States

    I have learned that debate solves nothing, but I will make this statement. Christians find satisfaction something other than money, their goal is love based relationships. If your goal in life is to be a "critical" thinker, then go for it! I'm content with being a "Positive" thinker in a "poor" state.

    1. Misha-Chu from Bellevue, WA, United States

      As long as that love based relationship is between a white man and a white woman, amirite?

  5. Cindy from Munster, IN, United States

    Many people in the south say they have a college degree, but it is from a bible college.


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