Rick Santorum's Moral Delusions

Is America really on a downhill slide?

Why is Rick Santorum running for president? Because America is in trouble and he knows why.

Faith and family are under attack. "Moral relativism," he warns, is breeding "aberrant behavior." Gay rights advocates are bent on "secularization." Liberals have brought about a "decaying culture."

Santorum insists that gay marriage will destroy the family, "the very foundation of our country." Lamenting the scandal of pedophile priests, he wrote in a Catholic publication: "When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

It's a familiar line of argument among religious conservatives, and it has the virtues of clarity, simplicity, and plausibility. But there is one notable weakness in his case: a mass of evidence that amounts to a thunderous refutation.

Santorum takes it for granted that religious belief, at least of the Christian variety, is a powerful force for moral behavior. That's not apparent from looking at this country.

He thinks America has been on a downhill slide for many years, thanks to feminism, gay rights, pornography, and other vile intruders. But where is the evidence that the developments cited by Santorum are producing harmful side effects?

In the past couple of decades, most indicators of moral and social health have gotten better, not worse. Crime has plummeted. Teen pregnancy has declined by 39 percent. Abortion rates among adolescents are less than half what they were.

The incidence of divorce is down. As of 2007, 48 percent of high school students had engaged in sex, compared to 54 percent in 1991. What "decaying culture" is he talking about?

It sounds obvious that when people practice a religion that preaches strong morality and responsible conduct, they will behave better than people who follow their own inclinations. But what is obvious is not always true.

America is a good place to judge the value of faith in promoting virtue. There is a great deal of variation among the 50 states in religious observance—and a great deal of variation in social ills. It turns out that religiosity does not translate into good behavior, and disregard for religion does not go hand-in-hand with vice. Quite the contrary.

Consider homicide, which is not only socially harmful but a violation of one of the Ten Commandments. Mississippi has the highest rate of church attendance in America, according to a Gallup survey, with 63 percent of people saying they go to church "weekly or almost weekly." But Mississippians are far more likely to be murdered than other Americans.

On the other hand, we have Vermont, where people are the most likely to skip church. Its murder rate is only about one-fourth as high as the rest of the country. New Hampshire, the second-least religious state, has the lowest murder rate.

These are no flukes. Of the 10 states with the most worshippers, all but one have higher than average homicide rates. Of the 11 states with the lowest church attendance, by contrast, 10 have low homicide rates.

Teen pregnancy also tends to follow a course precisely the opposite of what Santorum preaches. Almost every one of the most religious states suffers from more teen pregnancy than the norm—while the least religious ones enjoy less.

What impact does gay marriage have on how kids handle sex? Massachusetts, the first state to legalize it, has less teen pregnancy than the country as a whole. Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont, which have also sanctioned same-sex unions, are also far better than average.

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  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    I'd never vote for a wanker like Santorum, but damn! - I sure wish someone could bottle and sell the effect he has on liberals and cosmotarians!

  • Al Riitethinn||

    "Santorum in a Bottle"

    Get it while it's hot!

  • I Lovitt||

    It's a floor wax! It's a dessert topping!

  • TWylite||

    Can I put it on top of my bass smoothie?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I thought it was the newest alternative to Astro-Glide.

  • ||

    Santo Rum.

  • -||

    He's the flavor of the week. On Tuesday he'll get Cained.

  • cynical||

    I'm surprised at you, slappy. I would have thought your first impulse would be to note what else Mississippi has a lot of that Vermont does not.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    It never crossed my mind. But then, given that even people like you are aware of those facts, what would be the point of my bringing it up?

  • Realist||

    It's WHO not WHAT, you dehumanizer you.

  • sarcasmic||

    compassionate conservative = big government liberal who opposes gays and abortion

  • o3||

    so not lub-rahl

  • jt||

    indefinite detention is? if not, i guess you're right

  • anon||

    Interesting that hating arbitrary groups of people makes you "compassionate."

  • West Texas||

    He doesn't hate them. He loves them so much he wants to boss them around for their own good!

  • ||

    He had to destroy the gays in order to save the gays.

  • Chuck Anziulewicz||

    Ever since Massachusetts becames the first state in the nation to allow Gay couples to legally marry, hundreds of thousands of Gay couples across the United States have either gotten married or registered their civil unions or domestic partnerships. These are law-abiding, taxpaying Gay Americans who have made a solemn pledge to one another before family and friends.

    But now along comes Rick Santorum and HIS pledge to forcibly DIVORCE those hundreds of thousands of couples. Santorum has made it abundantly clear that under HIS administration there will only be one law governing marriage in the United States, and that law will NOT apply to Gay couples. Santorum has unapologetically insisted that he wants all those legal marriages and civil unions and domestic partnerships to be declared null and void.

    While Rick Santorum may prefer to focus on the economy as we get closer to November, anyone who loves and supports their Gay friends, family members, and co-workers needs to take a hard look at the theocratic road Santorum intends to take us down.

  • Maxxx||

    I think Santorum is a disgusting piece of shit.

    But, it is surely a sign of the decay of our republic that people on all sides think that under his administration "there will only be one law governing marriage in the United States, and that law will NOT apply to Gay couples."

    It seems that almost everyone wants to elect a fucking dictator and the only thing they disagree on is what his dictates should be.

  • Rob||

    It seems that almost everyone wants to elect a fucking dictator and the only thing they disagree on is what his dictates should be.

    +1

  • ||

    It seems that almost everyone wants to elect a fucking dictator and the only thing they disagree on is what his dick taste should be. /gay

  • ||

    I thought dick tator was the delicious Thanksgiving side dish that both straights and gays agreed on...both meaty and carbohydraty with creamy sauce.

  • David A.||

    "It seems that almost everyone wants to elect a fucking dictator and the only thing they disagree on is what his dictates should be."

    Agreed, alas.

  • k2000k||

    Well Sanatorum is right about moral relativism destroying our country. Though it sure as shit isn't gays shacking up thats causing it. It's the moral relativism of as long as it feels good I should be able to do it, and if there are bad consequences then the goverment, or some one else, is at fault and has to bail me out.

  • ||

    It's the moral relativism of as long as it feels good I should be able to do it, and if there are bad consequences then the goverment, or some one else, is at fault and has to bail me out.


    I don't think anyone here has a problem with the first half of this statement. It's the second half that's the problem.

  • Joe||

    But at least he admits to his social engineering. Liberals don't.

  • wareagle||

    admitting to it only makes it worse since Santorum represents the wing of the Repub party that is forever bitching about left-wing efforts to control behavior.

  • AlmightyJb||

    The socon message no longer sells in America. The problem is that the neocon message still does. That's where Santorum wins or loses. Let's hope it's the latter.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The doesn't say whether regular churchgoers are more or less law-abiding than others. We only get guilt-by-association statistics about the crime rate in their states. How do we know it isn't their non-churchgoing neighbors who are committing these crimes? The fact that the article doesn't even ask that question suggests that maybe the answer wouldn't fit into the article's thesis.

    "In the past couple of decades, most indicators of moral and social health have gotten better, not worse."

    Which would be a devastating critique - if the declinists had claimed that the cultural problems started in 1991. But the critique of people like Santorum is that the cultural problems took off in the 1970s or earlier.

  • ||

    As my wife has said on numerous occasions, Baptists go to church on Sunday to atone for what they did on Saturday night.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Fair enough, but are they atoning for murder, rape and burglary? The article mentioned crime rates, not sin rates in general.

  • ||

    didn't Phila, with its "for the people" Democrats still in power, just set another record for murders in one year?

  • Fabius||

    Oh, well if your wife said it, I see no reason the rest of us should question it. It's settled, then - Baptists are rapists.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    There are very few atheists in prison but lots and lots of believers.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Were they believers/regular churchgoers before going to prison?

    Or did they become more religious as they had time to reflect on their criminal careers and repent of their behavior (or, for the opportunists, decide that they ought to *look* like they've repented)?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    There are more sick people in hospitals than outside the hospital walls.

    Down with Western medicine!

  • Ashlyn||

    You might want to reconsider that analogy.

  • Fabius||

    +1

    I agree with the general idea of the column, but the idea that you can assume that Christians are more likely, or even as likely, to engage in this behavior because an arbitrarily defined group consists of a large number of Christians and a large number of people engaging in the behavior is retarded.

    Your assumption that the facts don't fit into his thesis is exactly correct. I have lived in Mississippi my entire life, and I can tell you from more than just anecdotal experience that the people who are in church every Sunday are not the people who are driving those negative statistics.

  • Ashlyn||

    ...from more than just anecdotal experience...

    You conducted carefully designed sociological surveys?

    ...the people who are in church every Sunday are not the people who are driving those negative statistics.

    I could say that, by refusing to educate their teenagers about safe sex, yes, they damn well are driving some of those statistics.

    But that's really beside the point. The point is that Christians like Santorum frequently condemn the secularization of our culture and insist that we'll descend into the barbarity of broken families and crime unless we live as they tell us to. The point is that they're wrong.

  • Matt Tanous||

    That was a bit better of an accusation than the teen pregnancy rates. Of course, it's obvious that increased rates of homosexual activity would lower the teen pregnancy rates - you can only get pregnant from hetero sex. Duh.

    The whole argument was specious. The problem with Santorum isn't that religious people are worse or better than non-religious people. The problem is Santorum's also specious argument that a few non-religious people acting in voluntary ways that hurt no one is somehow bad for religious folk.

  • It's Me, Rather||

    "aberrant behavior"

    Hmm, that's the only fun part of the Libertarian party

  • ||

    they can have my aberrant behavior when they pry it from my cold, dead, depraved fingers...

  • rather||

    I'm so disenchanted your aberrant behavior involves only your fingers :-(

  • Jeff P.||

    Seeking Caesar-like power in the name of Christianity, and giving blanket passes to the sexual predators uncovered among the right are about as morally relative as you can get.

  • anon||

    Mitt Romney basically admitted that he wanted such power in the name of "fixing our budget" on Sunday's debate.

  • All of the but Ron Paul||

    "What the fuck does Congress have to do with any of this?"

  • All of the but Ron Paul||

    I think I'm going to have to slap my parents for forgetting to put that 'm' on my birth certificate.

  • ptwalker||

    So-cons thankfully don’t resonate to well in New Hampshire, though we do have a few looking to outlaw gay marriage and allow for intelligent design in school, but the rest of the country is a different story. What is truly annoying is that all of the pundits kept saying don’t support Ron Paul because he can’t win the nomination or beat Obama, that the Libertarian minded should support one of the electable candidates, and the result is Santorum, the candidate who says he wants to purge libertarianism from the Republican Party. Just ridiculous.

    http://www.libertariansjustlik.....ng-me.html

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Nobody went broke underestimating....

  • romulus augustus||

    "Santorum, the candidate who says he wants to purge libertarianism from the Republican Party. Just ridiculous."

    Maybe we should be rooting for Santorum to win the nomination and do just that?

  • Matt Tanous||

    So we can remain confined outside the two-party system attempting do something that has only happened a few times in American history - and never since 1860?

  • ||

    As of 2007, 48 percent of high school students had engaged in sex, compared to 54 percent in 1991.

    Speaking as someone who was once a horny teenage boy -- this represents a step backwards.

  • Grego||

    Vermont's murder rate has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with the fact that in Vermont has some of the friendliest gun laws in the nations. You don't even need a CCW to be carry your gun with you all day long.

    Besides, the bible belt also enjoys relatively low crime rates thanks to their friendly gun laws, if we have any crime is mostly in the ghetto where blacks criminals like to shoot other black criminals while law-abiding blacks choose to stay unarmed and not call the cops, lest they be accused of not stopping snitching you know.

  • ||

    I think we found our newsletter writer.

    Gregooooooooooo!!!!!!

  • MWG||

    Gregooopooo!

    Out of curiosity, who will you be voting for Gregooooo?

  • Grego||

    Whoever wins the Republican nomination. I like Gingrich so far, he was good with that welfare-reform thing, a thing even Billy Clinton took credit for.

    Of course, the real question is who will you libertarians be voting for? You seem to hate the GOP far more than you hate Obama. In fact, I don't even think you hate Obama, tsk tsk.

  • first||

    Mirta is one of those girls who feeds off attention.

    GOOD THING for her because she also knows how and when to get it. Born from an Italian father and a Czech mother, Mirta is an exotic 21 year old who is unafraid of the camera and has the kind of body that turns heads wherever she goes. She is well traveled for a girl of such a young age and works at night in a bar owned by her family.

    It is very rare for any photographer to find a more photogenic model who takes as much pleasure being in front of the camera as Mirta does. After a while of shooting Petter had to give up telling her to keep her legs together and ended up doing things her way. The results of course are stunning. Mirta is a woman whose veins are full of passion, energy, and beauty.

    Luckily Petter was there to document these qualities to their fullest.

    http://www.hegre-art.com/model.....ls-wrapper

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    What, nothing about her being a biology/graphic arts major?

  • first||

    Nope, sorry.

  • ||

    Anyone else notice how 6-pac abs have replaced big-breasts as the beauty paradigm?

    Cultural ascension

  • first||

    Indeed.

  • ||

    So living an immoral or gay life style makes people happier and better off? Someone is delusional here and it is not Santorum. Aborting mistakes is a convenient short term solution that apparently avoids turmoil in some social environments, but it also avoids facing and dealing with the real problems.

  • wareagle||

    So living an immoral or gay life style makes people happier and better off?
    ----------------------------------
    what business of the govt is your lifestyle if it does not violate anyone's rights or suck down taxpayer dollars? Gay people have been around forever and not a single nation has fallen because of them. Lots of places have turned to shit because of hyper-controlling govt.

  • ||

    so you welcome "hate crimes" against churches that won't perform gay marriages?

  • wareagle||

    WTF are you talking about? First, there is no such thing as a hate crime; a crime is a crime, period. Second, if a church refuses to perform a gay marriage ceremony, so what? The market works here, too; other churches will step into the breach to perform those ceremonies.

  • ||

    where have you been...
    do some internet searches and get back to me...

  • wareagle||

    back to you about what? If someone attacks a church, that's a crime. Even libertarians who don't much like cops agree on that. And, there are churches that will and do perform gay marriages. It's not about "welcoming" crime; it's about keeping govt the hell out of personal decisions and private lives.

  • ||

    so there are no "discrimination lawsuits"?

  • ||

    this is absolutely ridiculous. I'm not going to say it NEVER happens but the incidences are INCREDIBLY low, especially when compared to hate crime being committed against the LGBT community, typically from supposed Christians.

    No church or individual should ever be harmed and the vast majority of the LGBT would agree with that. Most would even agree that if a church doesn't WANT to perform a same sex wedding they don't have to (just like they don't have to perform an opposite sex wedding. they have the right to refuse).

    The church needs to stay OUT of politics. That is not their place. And they need to stop trying to play the victim card because they are more often than not the victimizer, not the victim.

  • Ashlyn||

  • ||

    you keep your government moral equivalents out of churches, and churches will stay out of politics...
    oh yeah, and what Newt said sat nite...

  • Ashlyn||

    I don't know what a "government moral equivalent" is. Is it all those tax exemptions churches get? And you say churches will respect the establishment clause if we get rid of them?

    Yes, sir, right away, sir.

  • ||

    So what you're saying is, you hate puppies

  • ||

    Wasn't Detroit run by gays - all those aqua and pink 1950's cars ...and 'tail' fins (heh heh) - and now its a dystopian hell hole of disfunction and dystopy...

    What!??! Those were all actually heterosexuals? Indeed, super duper heterosexuals??? Really? O never mind...

  • ||

    Ayn Rand was right again.

    Conservatism is a sickness infecting capitalism. Santorum is just a symptom.

  • wulfy||

    conservatism, small c isn't specific enough to define the problem. It depends on what is being conserved. If you mean "ideas supporting coercion of social behavior by laws which prohibit adult behavior which harms no 3rd party", then yes, it's a sickness infecting everything.

  • ||

    Abortion rates are seemingly down because of RU487 and morning after pill. Religiosity is not Christianity...you can be religious about putting your shoes on every day. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus the Christ. it's obvious you've never resd the Bible with spiritual eyes. The Bible can not be reasoned but only spiritually discerned...those are Gods words. Throughout the Bible Satan is most active where Christians are most active. It's the age old battle between good and evil. Satan has no need to bother the apathetic or the non christian...they are already lost.

  • Stevie One Leg||

    So, in other words, if we just got rid of God, the devil would leave us alone as well. Sounds great to me.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Well if I'm already lost, then I might as well have a good time while I'm here, no?

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Ok I can give people a pass for believing in god as the answer to "where did it all come from" (even though I do not) but please... believe in the devil? That's rich. Next you'll tell me the story of Noah's Ark is also true.....

  • BradK||

    ...Next you'll tell me the story of Noah's Ark is also true.

    You mean it isn't?

    http://news.nationalgeographic.....07210.html

  • mediageek||

    C'mon guys, don't be mean like that, or TracJayne will just have to go cry into her pillow, write some bad Twilight fanfic, and eat a box of chocolates.

  • thirtyandseven||

    "you've never resd the Bible with spiritual eyes"

    Nope, I just got stuck with these plain old brown ones :(

  • ||

    America IS suffering from moral decay.

    I'm just glad that God isn't alive to see it.

  • cavalier973||

    Santorum is calling God liar. It is quite clear in Scripture (especially the writings of St. Paul) that God's Law--which is good--cannot create a moral society, because people are incapable of following it. If God's Law cannot create a moral society, how much less so can man's laws?
    If Santorum wanted to change people's hearts, he needs to embrace the non-coercive but nevertheless persuasive message of the Gospel, rather than the violent, coercive, immoral power of government.

  • ||

    Santorum is about Leviticus - not the Beatitudes.

  • cavalier973||

    Of course he is, and that's why he is basically flipping God the bird. God already told us that the whole point of the Law was to show the impossibility of our keeping it, and that He has provided an alternative path that relies on Himself rather than our strength. Santorum doesn't want to hear that. He wants to go back to the failed policies of ancient Israel, who, even though they had the Law of God direct from His hand, became worse offenders of the Law than the people they killed or chased out of Canaan.

  • Bright Bulb||

    God said no such thing.

  • Ashlyn||

    Religion. Shamelessly making shit up since 48,000 BCE.

  • ||

    right, and somehow Santorum is going to stuff Christian beliefs and values down your throat? where were you when Owebama came waltzing into town...

  • Matrix||

    Steve... why do you hate teen pregnancy and divorce so much?

  • cavalier973||

    The moral failings of the Southland derive from cultural history. Read "Albion's Seed", or if you don't have the time, "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" will give an overview. But I highly recommend "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America".
    The people who moved to the South were primarily from the borderlands region between Scotland and England. The people who went to New England came from East Anglia, etc. which accounts for regional accents, regional morals, work habits, how the elderly were treated, etc.
    This includes crimes. Rape was not considered as great a crime in the South as it was in New England, for example. The South had pasttimes like fighting "rough and tumble", in which the winner was the guy who still had his thumbs.
    There is a strong religious tradition in each region of the country, but the South's Christianity has always been a very emotionally based, tent revival-style religion, while the northeast has been very high-church and/or puritan.
    My point is that religion alone cannot account for how people behave; religious practice is as much determined by one's culture as what sort of music or food one enjoys.

  • k2000k||

    Interesting bits of information cavalier. I will take a look at your book suggestions.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Thanks for the reading suggestions Cavalier. They are now added to the list. The list grows longer, and my time grows shorter...

  • ||

    Mitt Romney is the Republican candidate that could get me to vote Libertarian for the first time. Rick Santorum is the Republican candidate that could get me to abandon the Republican party entirely. I guess this is what is called progress amongst Republicans.

    This is absurd. Even if I agreed with Santorum (I don't), he's babbling about the dining schedule on the Titanic. We're $15 trillion in debt. That's more than a year of our output. In total. That means if the government took everything for a year, we'd still not be paid off. We just lost our AAA rating. And his big issue is gay sex???

  • k2000k||

    Yeah I know right. It's like the guy freaking out about the stain on the carpet, all the while the building is burning down around him.

  • ||

    actually, because the media knows that he has strong convictions (and is willing to speak about them) they know they can always muddy the water with secondary issues and make him look he is not concerned about the big picture...

  • ||

    His "strong convictions" are about the secondary issues! When he was in office, he was a spendthrift who pushed to have the government intervene to protect industries he favored. He never showed any inclination whatsoever that he gave two shits about fiscal restraint! Hell, the prick argued that the Republicans shouldn't strive for limited, constitutional government.

  • ||

    "the prick", nice...
    aren't you even mildly incensed with what "The Great Owebama" was done or are just stuck in Full Bash Santorum?

  • ||

    How about voting libertarian because the policies are infinitely better than that of standard conservatism? As opposed to doing so in response to how predictably bad the other Republican candidates are.

  • cavalier973||

    I would like to also point out that the drug war has a lot to do with how much crime occurs in a community. Were the government to stop trying to make people moral with regard to drug use, then it is likely that violent crime would drop to a large degree. Unfortunately, Santorum probably supports the drug war, thinking that killing people and imprisoning them is a better way to deal with drug use than allowing civil society--families, churches, neighbors--to deal with it. I, of course, disagree that government is more effective than civil society.

  • ||

    A lot. Think about what we have done to our inner cities. First we destroyed the schools. That drove the middle class out. Then we passed regulations and minimum wage laws that made it very hard for the poor and under skilled to get legal employment. Then we flooded the country with unskilled, illegal Mexicans who are not subject to the minimum wage laws. Then we flooded the community with welfare that rewarded the most destructive behavior. And then we created this huge lucrative black market in drugs in these communities. And used that as an excuse to launch a police state throwing anyone who couldn't resist the temptation into prison.

    The worst southern racist wouldn't have had the heart to do to the inner cities what we have in fact done.

  • wareagle||

    The worst southern racist wouldn't have had the heart to do to the inner cities what we have in fact done.
    ----------------------------
    and THAT is the real legacy of liberalism.

  • ||

    agreed.

  • ||

    Things have gotten better. The declinists are wrong. They are wrong on so many levels. First, moral behavior generally makes people happier. Life is better when you don't have kids out of wedlock and don't become a degenerate drug addict and hold down a job and so forth. And people in the aggregate are not completely self destructive and stupid. Sure some individuals are. But most people learn from other people's mistakes. And thus social ills tend to burn themselves out. See the "crack epidemic" of the 1980s as an example. The declinists were convinced in the 1980s that every kid in America would be a crack addict by the year 2000. But sure enough "crack head" became about the most pejorative thing you could call someone and people wizened up and the "crack epidemic" subsided.

    Both sides are exactly the same. Substitute guns, obesity and religious intolerance for porn, gays and secularism in Santorum's speech and it could have been made by any liberal.

  • Typical Social Conservative||

    It's only because we took on the WAR ON DRUGZ!!11(tm) that we fought off the crack epidemic! Without the government everyone would be on (insert drug here).

  • ||

    We stopped crack and now they are doing meth. Stop the meth epidemic. These people will never learn.

  • wardamnlibertarian||

    I appreciate any Santorum bashing article but doesn't the increase in crime in MS compared to VT have more to do with poverty than with religion? The religious vs anti religious crime rate is a correlation not a causation. And about divorce rates, why not consider heavily Catholic countries like Mexico which has a very low divorce rate. Murder rate on the other hand has more to do with racial (or religious, nationalistic, etc.) tensions and poverty. Finland and Cameroon all have low murder rates and each country has very different levels of their population that are religious.

  • ||

    I don't even think it has to do with poverty. The link between poverty and crime is pretty weak. And yeah, religion is hardly an indicator of a peaceful society. Iraq and Afghanistan are very religious countries and they seem to have no problems killing each other.

    The crime rate is really the result of how much respect people have for rules and institutions and how effective your rule of law is. Yeah, religion can help in that. But it is not necessary and it can hurt too.

  • anon||

    I'm not convinced of this. I look at how ignorant the general public can be (see any election in modern history) and can't really believe that people are capable of developing a set of morals without someone telling them what is right and wrong. I mean hell, God says teh gays are bad and half the country believes it, and he doesn't even exist.

    This is merely theoretical on my part; I haven't made it a goal of mine to really think about the situation much.

  • ||

    If you honestly believe that, then you need to stop being a libertarian and go be either a SOCON or a Liberal and get in the business of doing people's thinking for them.

  • anon||

    It's just being an atheist I am frequently asked "Well, why don't you steal/rape/murder/etc?" EVERY FUCKING TIME it's brought up. The dumbfound look on their faces when I say "Because I believe in individual liberty, and I don't think I have the right to determine another person's life for them" is laughable. To some, it appears that the only thing between an "upstanding citizen" and murderer is a belief in God.

    I am not convinced that one who's been brainwashed into believing in Santa Claus, Jesus, et al. from an early age can handle the realization that it's all a made up story by a bunch of people who wanted power over other people. Similar to the dichotomy of believers vs non-believers, I don't think I could trust someone that suddenly lost their belief in whatever God they follow.

    Now, those raised from an early age with no such illusions of grandeur I have no problem trusting.

    Like I said, this isn't really firm ground for me. I've read Hayek's "Fatal Conceit" and do believe that there's a good argument for traditions; I don't think immediate abolishment of certain traditions (religion) by the general public would end OK, and would simply do more harm than good for the cause of individual liberty ("We tried your 'get rid of God' and look what it got us! We must now become a theocracy!")

  • anon||

    Also, as stated below, people assume their moral standards come from god right now. It takes a lot of effort to understand that morals do not in fact come from god.

    I'm using the term god in a general sense, as all religions have some belief in some "higher power." I want to make it clear that I have no such illusions.

  • ||

    It is not that people don't have moral standards.

    It's just that most people think that their moral standards are the ONLY moral standards. And are willing to use force to make it that way.

  • ||

    i thought they were just guidelines...

  • k2000k||

    Poverty most assuredly has some affect on the crime rate. But yeah I think it has more to do with how the 'social order' is. Either you have a system of goverment that people trust and believe in, or you have a strong network of community and familial relationships. I think that helps explain why many urban areas have a huge problem with crime, corrupt goverment, and no community network to act as a social moral bulwark. I think the plight of black america perfectly illustrates the case. There used to be a strong sense of family and community in black america, they had to have it given Jim Crow. But then the goverment came in and systematically destroyed it, you know 'to help them' and now they don't have either a fair and just goverment or community.

  • Ashlyn||

    Poverty most assuredly has some affect on the crime rate.

    You say this with quite a bit of confidence, but there's really not a lot of evidence for it. Sociologists have looked hard for it, too. Really hard.

    And are you arguing that the dismantling of Jim Crow laws is what destroyed black communities? Because that's what it sounds like you're arguing.

  • ||

    They should do a study on Vito Corleone.

  • ||

    where do you hear this?
    do you remember the lady who was without a clue, thinking that by voting Owebama into office, she was going to get her share of Owebama money?

  • ||

    The religious vs anti religious crime rate is a correlation not a causation.


    Maybe it's just me, but I don't think the author was causation. At least that's not the impression I got.

  • ||

    That is, I don't think the author was implying causation.

  • epistemicfail||

    Americans are too fucking fat to commit crimes, have sex, or get married, let alone get people pregnant and have abortions.

  • anon||

    0/10, try harder.

  • Number 2||

    I seriously thought that the rise of the tea party movement spelled the end, or at least the marginalization, of this branch of conservatism. Like many of the commenters have said, one would think that our government going broke would be the top priority.

  • wareagle||

    did you see what happened to the Tea Party members of Congress who squawked about spending? Not only did the Dems and media predictably hammer them, SO DID A SIZABLE CHUNK OF THE REPUB LEADERSHIP/CONSERVATIVE MEDIA. Even some of the TPers have backed off from the thinking that got them elected.

  • ||

    Repubics that's what Mark Levin calls'em...

  • wareagle||

    then instead of lionizing the likes of Santorum, Levin should be calling him the statist that he is. But, I guess if the statism leans in Levin's direction, all is well. The most foolish question of Saturday's debate has its roots in Santorum, the one about banning contraception. Not even the evangelical wing of the GOP has called for that; Ricky, meanwhile, does not see an issue.

  • ||

    lost in the sauce again?
    once again, someone who is not a journalist (but democrat tool), asked a question that NO ONE has put forward as a campaign platform...
    and what do you do but jump on it with both feet...
    how does it feel to have Stephanopoulis lead you around?

  • Realist||

    "Is America really on a downhill slide?"
    Only from an intelligence standpoint.... and Ricky is a perfect example!

  • Matthias Klein||

    A German Preacher's Thoughts on American Christians and Politics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpLYq525SpM

  • ||

    While I'm no fan of Santorum, your stats are no more compelling than his. Church attendance is not a valid test of "religiosity." Many people who go to church weekly do so in the mistaken belief that this exercise makes them a Christian, allowing them to ignore Christ the rest of the week.

    Check out some of the home church people if you want a valid test of Christianity.

  • Almanian||

    But how does one tell the "True Scotsman" from the imitator?

  • Ashlyn||

    There have been a million versions of Christianity since some imaginative fellow started a breakaway cult from Judaism in the first century. What makes akaGaGa's version the One True No Shit This Time We've Got It Right Religion?

  • ||

    All this talk about religious and moral decadence and no mention that Tim Teeeeeeeebow will save us all?

  • Almanian||

    I think v. the Pats it will be all he can do to save himself.

    But - we shall see.

    Tebow > Yinzers

  • ||

    The Pats are the overall better team. But as you said, we'll see.

    Bilichick pulled a good one with McDaniels.

  • ||

    also known as Bush versus Kerry II
    this time its personal!

  • Jeremy||

    He never said that churchgoers were committing the crimes. He stated that the crimes occurred more often in more religious areas, or in areas with more "social fabric" laws on the books.

    The question is whether a permissive society leads to more infringing immoral behavior and societal ills. He's showing that to not be the case, not assigning blame.

  • Ashlyn||

    Wow, you explained that a lot more patiently and politely than me.

  • ||

    You're confusing association and cause here, I think.

    Marriage is the chief cause of divorce, if you don't get married, you are unlikely to get divorced. If I recall correctly, in Mass., people often don't bother to get married. I would posit that churchgoing makes people more likely to get married, and this has a secondary effect of making divorce also more likely.

    As for murder rates, you'd want to match demographics before trying to ferret out the impact of religion. The ethnic makeup of Mississippi and Vermont are very different.

  • Ashlyn||

    I would posit that churchgoing makes people more likely to get married, and this has a secondary effect of making divorce also more likely.

    No, we're comparing divorce rates, not absolute numbers. A married couple from Massachusetts is more likely to stay married than a couple from Mississippi.

    Or perhaps what you're trying to say here is that both Northern and Southern couples practice the same form of serial monogamy, and their relationships fail at the same rates. In which case the only difference is that churchgoing Southerners lie to everyone - including themselves - that these relationships are going to last until death, and godless Northerners don't.

    The ethnic makeup of Mississippi and Vermont are very different.

    Yes, it's all that melanin making people kill each other in Mississippi.

    I don't see how it makes a difference to the basic point about how violence and religiosity correlate, though. Southern blacks are, if anything, even more religious on average than whites.

  • R||

    Yes, it's all that melanin making people kill each other in Mississippi.

    I don't see how it makes a difference to the basic point about how violence and religiosity correlate, though. Southern blacks are, if anything, even more religious on average than whites.

    Anyone who attempts that there is a difference between crime rates of different racial/ethnic groups either hasn't done his homework or is a conscious liar - take your pick.

    The fact that rates of crime differ by ethnicity means that correlations other than religiosity (as measured by regular church attendance) exist.

  • R||

    That should be "attempts to claim"

  • R||

    And "there is a difference" should be "there is no difference." Sorry for the sloppy proof-reading.

  • Ashlyn||

    You're right, the difference is real. Blacks in a given region tend to have higher rates of violence than whites in a given region.

    But it's also true that Northern blacks are less violent than Southern blacks, just as Northern whites are less violent than Southern whites. There isn't an independent "black crime rate" that's constant all over the country, because there's nothing innately violence-prone about black people (as compared to other races). "There are more black people in Mississippi" doesn't do much to explain why there are more murders in Mississippi.

  • ||

    could that be correlation between cold v. warm weather days?

  • ||

    Mississippi is 36% black. Vermont is .5% black. http://ipoaa.com/us_black_population.htm

    Whatever the cause, the sad truth is that blacks have a much higher crime rate (and divorce rate, teen pregnancy rate etc.) than whites.

    And despite your jest, melanin is chemically tied to adrenaline. http://www.sciencedirect.com/s.....4708002218

  • ||

    Usually when a politician is referred to as wanting to impose "Christian Sharia Law" it's hyperbole... but not in this case. The guy is scarey, in a "enemy of the Constitution" sort of way. And he's totally missed the boat on Christianity. Followers of Christ were supposed to "fishers of men", teaching, leading by example, convincing people to join... not conquering and enforcing their will upon others. Those who consider that last statement exaggeration, consider that every law is dependent upon the presence of men with guns to enforce it. Santorum's America would be every bit the abomination that a Left Wing Political Correctness State would be.

  • Ashlyn||

    And he's totally missed the boat on Christianity.

    I'm getting really tired of this "No True Scotsman" crap. Christianity can be, and has been, any number of different things depending on which bits of Scripture you cherry pick. No interpretation of Christianity can provide any evidence that its version is the correct one.

  • ||

    Did I miss something in the New Testament that said "go among the unbelievers and strike off their heads" or "If thy neighbor doth sin, then go ye forth unto the temple, and call for soldiers to come and punish him?" Santorum's viewpoint is that it's perfectly Christian to send men with guns to ensure his fellow citizens don't sin.

  • Ashlyn||

    The New Testament's Jesus thought it was perfectly okay to own people. I really couldn't speculate about how he would have felt about the proper role of the law in regulating morality.

    Why are we limiting ourselves to the New Testament anyway? The Old Testament is full of laws violently punishing moral infractions, and Jesus went around telling people he hadn't come to abolish the law, and "anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven..." Of course, there was a huge debate in the early church over whether/how he meant this, because... there is no one, accepted version of Christianity!

  • ||

    let me guess, your astounding knowledge of Christianity came from which liberal university?

  • ||

    To be fair, Ashlyn has a point about various denominations, many of which can be quite extremen. Warren Jeffs, David Koresh, Jim Jones all considered themselves, and had followers who considered themselves, "Christian." I will concede that point to him. I should have aimed my criticism of Santorum in a direction like this: "Santorum's version of Christianity depends on men with guns keeping people from committing what he feels are sins, while he claims Constitutional protection from people with differing versions." Either way you slice it, gross hypocracy on the part of Santorum and his followers.

  • Ashlyn||

    let me guess, your astounding knowledge of Christianity came from which liberal university?

    Mama taught catechesis.

    Santorum's version of Christianity depends on men with guns keeping people from committing what he feels are sins, while he claims Constitutional protection from people with differing versions.

    Very accurate summary. So accurate it might make steam come out of my ears if I think about it too hard.

  • ||

    This essay is sad and way below Reason.com's standards. It is replete with phony use of statistics.

    E.g. #1: The crime rate is going down as America becomes more secular! The crime rate has gone down as the incarceration rate has soared.

    The comparison of Massachusetts with Mississippi is simply pathetic. There are so many confounding factors: poverty, education, etc. To bring this up is an embarrassment. It shows that the author has no integrity.

    Look at cheating on tests. 80% of Atlanta schools cheated FOR their students. How could this happen? Where is the integrity?

    Look at the pervasiveness of pornography. Look at the pervasiveness of narcotic abuse.

  • Ashlyn||

    Look at the pervasiveness of pornography.

    I know, isn't it awesome?

    The comparison of Massachusetts with Mississippi is simply pathetic. There are so many confounding factors: poverty, education, etc.

    Yes, there are plenty of variables besides religiosity that contribute to the differences in societal health between Massachusetts and Mississippi. The point is not to attribute the entire gap to religion. The point is that godlessness does not, in fact, lead to broken families and crime.

    At least, that was the author's point.

    One could also point out that at least some of the problems with education in Mississippi stem from the nice churchgoing folk who want to teach their kids lies (the Earth is 6000 years old, the US was founded as a Christian nation, etc) or withhold information altogether (condoms work pretty damn well). They also want to lock their neighbors up for getting high, contributing to the Drug War that causes so much violence and makes drug abuse so difficult to treat.

    So maybe this discussion about whether religiosity is good for societal health is one that we really need to have.

  • ||

    "I know, isn't it awesome."

    I realize that you are a secularist and that you have very little moral compass. Therefore it is understandable that you don't understand the evils of pornography - and not just evil on a personal level but on society as a whole.

    The porn addicted are just like lab rats, pushing the button for the pleasure jolt, ignoring the breakdown of their families.

    You also don't seem to understand that pornography is not "victimless" fun. It breeds child pornography and abuse. It is no accident that child abuse is rampant.

  • Ashlyn||

    I realize that you are a secularist and that you have very little moral compass.

    This is so offensively stupid, you are obviously not worth engaging with. Good evening.

  • ||

    This article is fantastic I just need the sources and trends to site it. To many people will dismiss this as lies or propaganda.

  • ||

    Santorum: "Moral relativism," he warns, is breeding "aberrant behavior."
    You can’t argue with that. Everything we all hate crops up when morality is downplayed. The writer cites recent changes in teen pregnancy, divorce rates, etc. to say things aren't so bad but conveniently ignores the fact that this is still much worse since the 1960s-era of reduced morality and people living like wild animals.

    "When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this (creepy priest) scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm." He just defined what liberals have done to the country. As a dedicated liberal, the writer simply ignores the damage to our nation's people wrought by the givernment becoming Uncle Sugardaddy. Santorum is right, and in a backhand way, is affirmed by what the article writer refuses to address.

    This also covers the religion and racial differences between Mississippi and VT & NH.
    Miss. has been the worst-educated state in the country for decades. While the white majority can probably be blamed for that, the article ignores education, probably because that is a Democrat liberal-dominated area of American culture and he refuses to acknowledge any liberal failures..

    Not only are Mississippians under-educated as compared to the middle-class-heavy best-educated states up East, but the government since LBJ has fostered the societal cancers of single-family households and dependence on handouts infecting both the white and black poor of the American South. When uneducated people without the support system provided by intact families develop an entitlement attitude, they are going to be unhindered by morality, so of course poor Miss. residents murder each other more often. Duh!! Thank you so much, liberal statists, for all you have cursed our country with.

  • wulfy||

    Agree with everything you said Currious. Besides ending the welfare state, we need to bust the teachers unions, enable a nationwide voucher system for K-12 to maximize competition, and outlaw tenure in state-funded colleges.

  • wulfy||

    Your target claims are partially valid. You need to separate what is valid and invalid:

    1. Faith and family are under attack. "Moral relativism," he warns, is breeding "aberrant behavior."

    Partially true. Moral relativism is one of the core arguments appeasers use for socially destructive behavior. The other one that statists use is that "poverty" causes bad behavior. Statists make common cause with Appeasers because appeasement, under cover of threat of usig the race card, is a good fallback when the poverty-causes-crime argument wears thin, which it does often because it is patently untrue.

    2. Gay rights advocates are bent on "secularization." and gay marriage will destroy the family, "the very foundation of our country."

    I agree, this claim is invalid. We are already secularized. We have separation of church and state. The govt should be out of the marriage licensing and taxing business. What breaks up families is Welfare.

    3. Liberals have brought about a "decaying culture." This is partially true, esp. in the inner cities. Statists and Appeasers, through the Welfare State, have incentivized out of wedlock births, quitting education, not seeking a real job, and engaging in black market commerce like drug dealing.

    It is good that the overall teen pregnancy and sex rates have gone down, but that is more a realization by most women that men are not maturing fast enough and they are taking more of a leadership role and acting more responsibly. But this is not true in the inner cities. Those women see sex as a way to get $50,000 a year in govt benefits without graduating from high school or getting a job. it's an instant middle class ticket without even having to take the SAT. (not that they could read the questions anyway) What a deal!

    END THE WELFARE STATE or face mass criminality when the state goes bankrupt. The current crop of Republicans are too cowardly to end it. I'm ready with my arsenal. You should be too.

  • ||

    I'm in agreement with you that the welfare state is the main culprit in any "moral decline" as well as crime. Teach generations that wanting something means they *deserve* and are *entitled* to it creates people who think nothing of simply taking what they want.

    Moral Relativism is an issue, but the Social Conservatives display just as much of it as the Prancing Leftist. Perhaps in a fashion that is even more hypocritical given that they often claim to be dedicated to protecting the Constitution. "I can make your child invoke my God's name during the Pledge, but don't you dare try to force your pinko version of morality on me!"

    As with Political Correctness, government enforcing Family Values of some faction or denomination continues to breed the idea that a citizen's rights only matter if they follow the same moral compass in their personal lives as the ruling faction. Jefferson wept.

    I do have a quibble on teen pregnancy. I wouldn't say teen girls suddenly figured out that boys are dumb (until well after puberty, anyway), but rather became better educated about sex, how babies happen, etc. Plus, the increased availability of contraceptives is helping.

    Finally, the Welfare State is in no way limited to the Inner City. You'll find no shortage of good ol' boys and girls in rural areas, lining up for the Free Money They Deserve and loudly proclaiming their inherent right to eat from other people's plate.

  • ||

    This article is full of statistical fallacies. If I saw an actual analysis of the true statistics, I would be more likely to believe it. To me this is much like the fallacy of the glass ceiling.

  • ||

    Have you applied the same scrutiny to Santorum's claims and statistics? I'd love to see what Rick Thrown Out Of His Own State has to bring to the table in terms of proving that happily married, straight people, will suddenly get gay and divorce simply because the law permits gay marriage.

  • ||

    Good example of the blatant dishonesty of the gay "rights" people. We have a simply stupid straw man:

    "...proving that happily married, straight people, will suddenly get gay and divorce simply because the law permits gay marriage."

    Of course, Santorum never said this. What he did say is that the push for the normalization of homosexuality is PART of the systemic decline of sexual morals leading to a multitude of grave societal consequences.

  • ||

    Ah, you prefer the intellectual honesty of Santorum merely *implying* it rather than saying it clearly and providing verifiable data to back it up. Perhaps you could clarify for me then. How does the fact that my neighbor might be gay and married impact my marriage or family? Is he more likely to steal my car? If a child is taught it's not ok to beat up gay kids, is he going to start stealing cars and smoking crack as a result? Santorum's shrill cries of sexual decline are bogus. Homosexuality, heterosexual promiscuity, and all of those other "social ills" have been around for as long as human civilization.

  • Tony Pelliccio||

    One interesting point, my first visit to Elizabeth City, NC. It is a city of about 45,000 people but with a murder rate that is MUCH higher when adjusted for population than my home city of Providence, RI with a population just under 200,000 people.

    In other words, more murders per 100 in Elizabeth City than Providence.

    Yet drive down the highways in North Carolina and the they are littered with those "God, I'm in the Book" billboards.

  • ||

    Great example of irrelevant anecdotal evidence. The leading cities for violent crime in 2011:

    #1 Flint Mich
    #2 Detroit Mich
    #3 St. Louis MO
    #4 New Haven CT

  • ||

    As puritanism enforced in former communist countries and China shows, sexual repression, coupled with an education based solely on "values", and not on content, in order to create the perfect citizen, leads to infantilization, arrested development and lack of responsibility. The sort of right-wing maoism that Santorum advocates is part of the problem. In this respect, to me he seems just another busyboy, in short social engineering. As grandson of someone who fled fascism in Europe, he doesn't seem to have learnt the lesson.

  • ||

    From a religious marketing standpoint, it's a great way of making hay. Point at the sin nobody in his congregation commits, they then have a convenient enemy to blame for social ills, and the luxury of being able to pretend that their own sins aren't that big by comparison and they don't have to face up to their own failings.

  • ||

    This article does a fine job as far as pointing out the holes in Santorum's narrative. What they left out was the necessary second step of providing an alternate narrative to explain why the incidence of homicide, teen pregnancy and abortion is higher in "Bible belt" states.

    Luckily, I have one. And it has only tangentially to do with religiosity.

    Homicide correlates almost perfectly to poverty, as do any number of other social ills: child abuse, spousal abuse, drug use, etc. Poor people who perceive no way out of their situation fall prey to despair and behave in ways that the more well-heeled are never driven to.

    The tangential relationship to religiosity that I referred to earlier is simply that, just as all of these crimes correlate to poverty, so also does religiosity.  The comfortably-off are able to fool themselves that they are the masters of their own fate, and that they deserve the comfort which they enjoy. The poor are under no such delusions. They know that they work hard, that they try hard, that they do all of the things that they are supposed to do - and yet they are still in the shit. They go to church more often in the hopes of finding out what went wrong, or at least of having the opportunity to cry out to God for help.

    Now...as to teen pregnancy and abortion. Those both correlate to poverty too, but also to two other important things:  access to contraception and education about human sexuality.

    Just as the "Bible belt" is precisely the portion of the United States where anti-poverty programs are the weakest and the least well-funded, and where people are the most stigmatized for making use of them, and where regulations safeguarding worker's rights are practically nonexistent, so also the "Bible belt" is the portion of the country where access to contraception is the most restricted and education in human sexuality (and pretty much everything else having to do with science) is the least well funded and the most hedged about with protections for "parental rights" - which is to say liberty - which is also (sad to say) the right of parents to keep their children ignorant.

    So - in short - as I'm sure you have guessed by now - it is all the Republicans' fault.

  • K||

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing recently while I was watching the gritty realist early '80s movie "Footloose." So many towns in America are full of totally ignorant rednecks who are reproducin' like rabbits because they don't have someone like Kevin Bacon around to help them fight the system with righteously funky dance moves. See, because of all them religious conservatives, no one in these towns have ever heard of contruhcepshuhn. They're "kept ignorant," you see. They don't know where to get condoms (if they ever even heard of them) or birth control pills, or how to use google. Seriously, you can't expect kids to know anything about sex or contraception unless and until responsible adults tell them what nearly every good Vermont kid probably already learned years before. Rural and small town kids have no access to television, radio, or the internet and thus only know what their parents tell them.

    Anyway, props on the expert use of statistics here. Really, it's an effort worthy of a David Brooks or a Richard Florida. Hey! The "red states" are poorer than the "blue states," so that means Republican voters are poor! (now I'm off to google
    "ecological fallacy"...)

  • ||

    http://www.vdare.com/articles/.....of-excessi

    Paul Gottfried said it best:

    The most glaring “weakness” (a term he uses to describe the other side’s case) in Chapman’s brief: he studiously avoids mentioning what Jared Taylor calls the “color of crime.”

    "Doesn’t Chapman know (if he doesn’t, he must be a Martian) that Deep South states have about ten times as many blacks as New England states, even including their transplanted New York Jewish radicals? In the case of Mississippi and yuppie Vermont, it’s even stronger—in 2010, Mississippi had the largest percentage of blacks in the country, almost 40 percent. Vermont, by contrast, is less than 1 percent black.
    The Southern state that Chapman ridicules, Mississippi, has a crime rate closer to that of Newark, New Jersey than to that of Bennington, Vermont for a very good reason. It abounds in the same ethnic group as the one that populates New Jersey cities, and that minority happens to have a rate of violent crime that is consistently about eight times as high as that of whites.
    In contrast, rural impoverished West Virginia, which is full of Chapman’s hated red-neck Bible-thumpers, has one of the lowest murder rates in the country. It also has relatively few blacks or Hispanics."

  • ||

    Utah had a lot of religiously devout people who oppose 'gay marriage', but I don't see much crime there. But then, Utah is mostly white.
    The south side of Chicago, on the other hand, is very Democratic and liberal politically and socially, but it is dangerous and awful... just like much of St. Louis and Detroit.
    Gee, I wonder why.

  • ||

    If Chapman is right, there will be super-increase in crime if Bibles were passed out to Vermonters while crime will fall in Mississippi if Bibles were taken away.

  • AnotherDad||

    So Chapman will warn me off visiting very religious Utah of its soaring crime rate? Oooops!

    Santorum we can argue about, but the one deluded here is Mr. Chapman with his—cherry picked and ridiculous—religion and crime comparison.

    Why didn’t Chapman talk about very religious Utah? What is *most* different about Vermont and Mississippi that affects crime rates? Race.
    Vermont has a tiny black population – 1% (and tiny Latino population, and few immigrants).
    Mississippi has the highest black proportion of any state – 37%.
    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/index.html
    (A secondary issue, but Vermont is also particularly old compared to other states, very young Utah ought to have a much higher crime rate, but does not.)

    Blacks commit about 7 times (5-8 depending on how you shake it out) the crime on average compared to whites. The Hispanic number is harder to suss out because of a weird FBI tic (Hispanics are counted independently in victim surveys but lumped as “white” in perpetrator counts) but appears to be somewhere around 2 or 3 times the white rate. A reasonable rough first cut estimate of states’ relative crime rates can be had by a simple calculation: 7 + 3 + 1. Main point is it’s ridiculous to talk about crime rates and *any other factor* until you’ve accounted for race. A knowledgeable person would simply assume that Mississippi is going to have considerably higher crime than Vermont. (And lefties who would call me “racist!” for pointing this out, of course … flock to lily white Vermont.)

    Given that how does bible thumping Mississippi do? Here’s a quickie state crime rate breakdown:
    http://www.census.gov/compendi.....2s0308.pdf
    And Mississippi actually … does pretty darn well, considering its demographics. Mississippi’s murder rate is 6.9/100,000 people. The state murder champion is next door Louisiana which has almost twice (12.3) the murder rate, even though it’s slightly less black (32%). Apparently that libertine “anything goes” attitude down there really means … anything goes. New Mexico—half Hispanic—has the next highest state murder rate. But quickly looking around Mississippi is also bested in murder by considerable less bible beating Maryland (7.7) which is only 30% black. It’s close to Michigan (6.3) only 14% black! Mississippi is much more peacefully than much more secular Illinois (8.4) which is only 14% black. Advantage … bible thumpers!

    Now is there an additional confound? Sure, these other states are more urban than Mississippi with at least one big city. And urban areas are more violent. For instance Washington D.C.—which I think we can safely say is a secular and ungodly place—is far, far more violent than any state with a 24/100,000 murder rate (50% black). So is Steve Chapman going to tell us to stay away from cities—wicked dens of iniquity?

    Now say you compare mostly rural states like Chapman did with Mississippi, Vermont and Iowa, but control for racial demographics. I don’t have the figures in front of me, but I have seen state racial crime demographics. And as I remember Chapman’s Iowa—which is where my parents hail from and so a state I’m familiar with and pay attention to—while having a low crime rate, has the worst black crime rate. The white population there, with its German Lutheran core is very well behaved, no doubt better than Mississippi’s white population. But its white culture and general assumption of good intent, leave it very vulnerable to very bad black behavior.

    The reality here is that Mississippi’s—and in general the South’s—bible beating religiosity, is a positive check on misbehavior. Yes, the violent crime rates down there are high. But blacks in the bible beating South are generally somewhat better behaved than they are more secular Northern states. I’d much rather walk through the ghetto in Jackson than in Detroit or Baltimore or Chicago or Washington (or even the mid-sized cities) up North. I’d much rather be in a dark alley with a guy who’s getting a little fire and brimstone in the pew on Sunday, than some guy who doesn’t give a crap—guy-girl, guy-guy, girl-girl—about marriage or give a crap about anything else (the rap star vibe).

    What many secular libertarians don’t seem to grasp—or maybe just do not want to grasp—is that culture does matter. The zero order purpose of religion is simply to encourage\enforce appropriate socially beneficial behavior so that we can all get along. And this is particularly beneficial for people who aren’t all that bright, who are impulsive, who don’t have positive social support. If you’re of reasonable IQ, not sociopathic, decent levels of “cooperative” and “conscientious” personality traits and grow up in a middle class family, you’re probably going to be well behaved religion or not. (I didn’t drag my kids off to church, because—in part—my wife is not of Christian heritage (Hindu), and because I figured I could cover their moral training.) But a lot of folks are not so bright, no so naturally “with it” and religion helps them to be better behaved, keep their nose clean, constrained their sexual impulses and get\stay married, generally to organize their lives … which helps the rest of us heathens.

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