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Mississippi: God’s Little Test for the Faithful

January 2, 2010
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Mississippi is the poorest state in the Union. Mississippi is the fattest state in the Union. Mississippi is ranked 49th in education. Mississippi even holds the record for most lynchings.

When comparing the states in this country, Mississippi comes in last or near last in enough important categories to safely declare that the state has some grave problems.

Last week, I blogged about the poll results recently released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. One of the stats that I failed to mention in my short post was that (if you haven’t guessed where I am going with this, you are probably new to this blog. Welcome!) Mississippi is the most religious state in the United States of America. In fact, it swept the three categories used to rate religiosity: worship attendance, frequency of prayer, and belief in god.

The upshot of this, of course, is that Chubbs McNoRead may be destitute, but at least his arteries stand a decent chance of being bathed in the healing light of Jay-sus prior to suffering his 4th heart attack.

Earlier this week, the Natchez Democrat newspaper wrote an editorial taking all of these facts into account. The title: Mississippi Focuses on What Matters. The editorial, delivered with cloying faux-humility, essentially says that the afterlife is so important that Mississippi needn’t concern itself with any metrics other than those of religiosity.

This strikes me as a gross display of rationalization. Who actually believes that when education statistics come out, Mississippians say, “who cares about literacy? We’ve got our eyes on a heavenly reward!” Of course, it also strikes me as a disgraceful show of denial. The editorial essentially says that obesity, poverty and ignorance are fine in Mississippi’s case. The editorial board of a newspaper is counting on the promises of their chosen mythology to the point of ignoring their current shitswamp.

Thanks to Atheist Revolution for the Natchez link and to Ian for some key phrases.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    January 2, 2010 12:00 pm

    Mississippi is also rated the 6th happiest state by a study published in Science (vs. DC, #37 and CT, #50):

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091217141314.htm

    • Barry permalink*
      January 2, 2010 12:04 pm

      Perhaps I am elitist, but I don’t want an illiterate pauper with sclerotic arteries telling me what happiness is.

      Anyhow, I always think of Bridgeport and Hartford as the happiest places on earth.

  2. Kim permalink
    January 2, 2010 12:04 pm

    Have you ever even been to Mississippi?

    • Barry permalink*
      January 2, 2010 12:07 pm

      What does that have to do with anything?

  3. Alek permalink
    January 2, 2010 7:54 pm

    ignorance is bliss

  4. Jonathan permalink
    January 4, 2010 3:13 pm

    Just because people eat more ice cream in the summer and there are more cases of drowning in the summer, it doesn’t mean that ice cream causes drowning. You see correlation doesn’t mean… oh never mind.

  5. January 4, 2010 4:23 pm

    (I never thought I would say this but)

    I have to agree with Jonathan here…you’ve created a causation out of a correlation.

    Look at the 5 worst states in education performance. 4 of those (i.e. all except Mississippi) fall below the national average in the “How religious is your state” part of the Pew report.

    Seems you’ve fallen into your own trap.

  6. Barry permalink*
    January 4, 2010 4:29 pm

    @ Jonathan and Sean:
    Take a look at what I said –
    “The upshot of this, of course, is that Chubbs McNoRead may be destitute, but at least his arteries stand a decent chance of being bathed in the healing light of Jay-sus prior to suffering his 4th heart attack.”

    I wasn’t saying (and I don’t believe) that the state’s religiosity caused the state’s shittiness in other areas. I said that it’s bogus for the paper to use the religiosity as a measure of “what’s really important” in order to gloss over its other failures.

    I make no causal argument!

  7. Jonathan permalink
    January 4, 2010 4:43 pm

    Barry, what you say in your reply is certainly a part of your original argument, but you were also trying to do the causality from correlation thing.

    • Barry permalink*
      January 4, 2010 4:59 pm

      If I did, I didn’t intend to. I would love it if you would show me where; I am not saying this as a “oh yeah? prove it!” kind of challenge, I would just like to clean up my writing if that is the case.

  8. Jonathan permalink
    January 4, 2010 10:07 pm

    This paragraph is where you seem to draw causality:

    Last week, I blogged about the poll results recently released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. One of the stats that I failed to mention in my short post was that (if you haven’t guessed where I am going with this, you are probably new to this blog. Welcome!) Mississippi is the most religious state in the United States of America. In fact, it swept the three categories used to rate religiosity: worship attendance, frequency of prayer, and belief in god.

    • Barry permalink*
      January 4, 2010 10:56 pm

      I really don’t see it there. But thanks for the warning; I will be more attentive to my prose.

  9. January 4, 2010 11:22 pm

    It’s really how you go through your first two paragraphs talking about how bad Mississippi is, then your 3rd paragraph is pointing out that they are the most religious state. You don’t directly say “they are stupid because they are religious”, but you imply a causation, one way or the other, between those two facts.

    I would

    • January 4, 2010 11:25 pm

      Forgot to finish my thought…

      I would think it’s a pretty easy jump to make, though you are not explicit in your comments.

      • Barry permalink*
        January 4, 2010 11:40 pm

        Thanks. I will try to be more clear in the future.

Trackbacks

  1. Stayed in Mississippi a Day Too Long « Is It Luck?
  2. Lesbians are Intolerable « Is It Luck?

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