>Religion in Alabama

>The following column was written by Mark Durm, a professor of psychology at Athens State University. The column appeared in The Decatur Daily on Saturday, Feb 14, 2009. (Be warned, you can’t read the articles online unless you are a paid subscriber.)

The poll referred to in the column is here. There you can compare the religiosity of all the states.

This interested me because I am so tired of hearing the New England States being criticised for their liberal views and the South, particularly Alabama, being praised for its Southern Baptist values. For all of our religion here in Alabama, what has it gotten us? Never mind our rankings in public education, our drop out rates, our regressive taxes, our rates of disease related to over consumption and smoking. Let’s just look at the following:

Just how religious is Alabama?

Mark Durm

I read with interest the article that appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of The
Decatur Daily, “How Religious Are You? Gallup Poll confirms it – Alabama is
highly religious and Vermont is not – but why?” This story reminds me of a
statement by Francis Bacon, “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be
true.”

I argue that if one judges a state’s religiosity by its behavior (its
“walk,” not its “talk”), then Vermont is much more religious than Alabama.

Please understand I am as Southern as one can get; I was born and
raised in the South, and I have attended schools in four different southern
states. We in the South, however, do not walk our religion as well as we
talk it. I offer the following as food for critical thought, not
criticism.

Let’s compare Alabama to Vermont because that was the case in the
previous article. This comparison will be done by the rate of certain
behaviors per 100,000 population in both states, according to the 17th edition
of “State Rankings,” a reference book published by Morgan Quitno.

An individual is more than twice as likely to get murdered in Alabama
as compared to Vermont. Our state ranks 18th while Vermont ranks
34th.

Moreover, a woman is more apt to be raped in Alabama than in
Vermont. Alabama ranks 18th in this category while the New England
state comes in at 41.

Alarmingly, an individual is 11 times more apt to be robbed in Alabama
than in Vermont, and concerning aggravated assault, one is three times more
likely to be assaulted in Alabama.

The property crime rate is almost double in Alabama when compared to
Vermont. Likewise, an individual is almost twice as likely to be
burglarized in our Southern state.

On other personal issues, an Alabamian is three times more likely to
file personal bankruptcy than is a Vermonter. If one is religious,
shouldn’t he pay what he owes his fellow man?

The divorce rate is higher in Alabama then the state up North.
Alabama ranks fourth in the nation on divorce while Vermont ranks 21st. If
a person is religious, should not he or she be less apt to divorce?

Moreover, more babies are born to unmarried women in Alabama than
Vermont. Alabama is above the national average on this issue; Vermont is
below it.

Concerning AIDS, living in Alabama poses a threat of getting this
dreaded disease seven times higher than living in Vermont.

Therefore, someone living in Alabama is more apt to be murdered, raped,
assaulted, robbed, have a child out of wedlock, file bankruptcy, be divorced and
get AIDS than if living in Vermont.

So just how religious is Alabama?

But, then, recalling Bacon’s words, maybe Alabama prefers to believe
what Alabama prefers to be true.

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