Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rankings Of Most And Least Religious States, And Reflections On Other Stuff

A recent Gallup poll determined Mississippi (really, 4 s's, 4 i's and 2 p's? - very original) to be the most religious State with 59% of respondents claiming to be 'very religious, and the least religious state being Vermont, with only 23%.

Interestingly, Vermont is also probably the state with the fewest gun laws on the books. No permit is required for concealed carry, and the only gun laws the State has are pretty hilarious:

"Section 4011. Aiming gun at another Any person who shall intentionally point or aim any gun, pistol or other firearm at or towards another, except in self-defense or in the lawful discharge of official duty, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $50.00. Any person who shall discharge any such firearm so intentionally aimed or pointed shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or fined not more than $100.00, or both."

Seriously, a 50 bucks fine - chump change, by any standards - for what would probably be a hangable offense in neighboring New York, is hilarious. And if you accidentally shoot someone after having intentionally pointed the firearm in their direction, you could get away with a 100 dollar fine, if the judge is having a good day. (However, I guess you could still get your ass sued for being such a careless idiot.)

So how do you reconcile the fact that a State filled with heathens is so lacking in the sector of gun laws? Well, for one thing, Vermont has a very low crime rate. The most recent murder there was by strangulation, and no firearm was involved. So the general lack of armed crime is probably why Vermont politicians are not trying to shove new gun laws down the throats of their constituents. Also, as I've mentioned before, gun ownership has nothing to do with religiosity or conservativism, because guns are nothing more than tools, and even non-religious people need to use tools from time to time.

An interesting observation is that neighboring New Hampshire, which scored almost as low as Vermont on the religious scale, is leaning more towards the Republican Party, whereas Vermont is leaning more towards the Democratic Party. This could very well have historical roots as well, as Vermont was not one of the original thirteen colonies, but instead, was born out of a land dispute between New York and New Hampshire, and the people who lived in between the two basically got pissed off of being asked to pay taxes to two different colonies who couldn't agree on who had jurisdiction over them,  and in 1777 formed their own free republic, which remained independent until 1791 when it finally decided to join the United States, perhaps feeling a little too small next to British-occupied Quebec. This could be the source of the rivalry between Vermont and its neighbors, and the inspiration for  John Greenlfeaf Whittier's poem "The Song of the Vermonters" which reads:

Ho–all to the borders! Vermonters, come down,
With your breeches of deerskin and jackets of brown;
With your red woollen caps and your moccasins come,
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.

Come down with your rifles!
Let gray wolf and fox
Howl on in the shade of their primitive rocks;
Let the bear feed securely from pig-pen and stall;
Here's two-legged game for your powder and ball.

On our south came the Dutchmen, enveloped in grease;
And arming for battle while canting of peace;
On our east crafty Meshech has gathered his band
To hang up our leaders and eat up our land.

Ho–all to the rescue! For Satan shall work
No gain for his legions of Hampshire and York!
They claim our possessions–the pitiful knaves–
The tribute we pay shall be prisons and graves!

Let Clinton and Ten Broek with bribes in their hands,
Still seek to divide and parcel our lands;
We've coats for our traitors, whoever they are;
The warp is of feathers–the filling of tar:

Does the 'old Bay State' threaten?
Does Congress complain?
Swarms Hampshire in arms on our borders again?
Bark the war dogs of Britain aloud on the lake–
Let 'em come; what they can they are welcome to take.

What seek they among us?
The pride of our wealth
Is comfort, contentment, and labor, and health,
And lands which, as Freemen we only have trod,
Independent of all, save the mercies of God.

Yet we owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own;
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow-men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen.

Our wives are all true, and our daughters are fair,
With their blue eyes of smiles and their light flowing hair,
All brisk at their wheels till the dark even-fall,
Then blithe at the sleigh-ride the husking and ball!

We've sheep on the hillsides, we've cows on the plain,
And gay-tasselled corn-fields and rank-growing grain;
There are deer on the mountains, and wood-pigeons fly
From the crack of our muskets, like clouds on the sky.

And there's fish in our streamlets and rivers which take
Their course from the hills to our broad bosomed lake;
Through rock-arched Winooski the salmon leaps free,
And the portly shad follows all fresh from the sea.

Like a sunbeam the pickerel glides through the pool,
And the spotted trout sleeps where the water is cool,
Or darts from his shelter of rock and of root,
At the beaver's quick plunge, or the angler's pursuit.

And ours are the mountains, which awfully rise,
Till they rest their green heads on the blue of the skies;
And ours are the forests unwasted, unshorn,
Save where the wild path of the tempest is torn.

And though savage and wild be this climate of ours,
And brief be our season of fruits and of flowers,
Far dearer the blast round our mountains which raves,
Than the sweet summer zephyr which breathes over slaves!

Hurrah for Vermont! For the land which we till
Must have sons to defend her from valley and hill;
Leave the harvest to rot on the fields where it grows,
And the reaping of wheat for the reaping of foes

From far Michiscom's wild valley, to where
Poosoonsuck steals down from his wood-circled lair,
From Shocticook River to Lutterlock town
Ho–all to the rescue! Vermonters come down!

Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors or knaves,
If ye rule o'er our land ye shall rule o'er our graves;
Our vow is recorded–our banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!

While that may explain the origins of Vermont's strong desire for freedom and disdain for gun laws, I suppose the broader question to ask here is why are New England States the least religious of all? And that is a strange question indeed, perhaps it is that cold climates have a culling effect on people unable to adapt to new ideas - such as central heating and secularism - for instance. Or perhaps it is that northern states have historically and economically relied more on industrialization (and by extension, science education), and the southern states have historically relied more on cheap labor (and by extension, brainwashing), but I welcome any hypothesis better researched and articulated than this one, if you would be so kind as to provide it.

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