The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has released the results of its latest survey aimed at determining the relative importance of religion in each of the 50 states, plus D.C. The importance of religion in people’s lives was one of four measures used to make this determination. Here are the results (I apologize for the formatting, but WordPress sucks and doesn’t support the OBJECT HTML tag, so I couldn’t embed the interactive chart on the Pew Forum site):
Now look at the 2009 United Health Foundation’s state-by-state ranking of overall health. (for methodology and more, see this page.) Pay attention to the right-hand column, which shows the states in rank order.
*Scores presented in this table indicate the weighted number of standard deviations a state is above or below the national norm.
Ideally, I would have gotten rid of the left-hand column in the health rankings, run the right-hand one through an Excel spreadsheet so I could flip the order to put the least healthy states at the top, and put the religiosity rankings side-by-side with the resulting list. It’s not difficult in any case to see how eerily strong the inverse correlation between health and faith is, at least by these measures. Mississippi was found the be both the most religious and least healthy state, the diametric opposite of the situation in Vermont. God must hate churchgoers.