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Religion, the Death Penalty and the Media's War with Geography

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There's a new Gallup poll out showing which states are the most and least religious. The full list is here.

This got me to thinking.  Throughout the country, 33 states have the death penalty and 17 don't (although no state without the death penalty has removed it by a vote of the people, and such a vote in California last year retained capital punishment). That's about two-thirds of the states with and one-third without.

Among the ten least religious states (counting DC as a state), however, seven have no death penalty (Vermont, DC, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Alaska).  Among the ten most religious states, all have it.

I am not going to comment on the relationship between having religious faith and believing in capital punishment; I leave that to more sophisticated minds.  What drew my attention to this new report was something else entirely, to wit, its rendition in Yahoo News, which contains the following account:  "As expected, the South dominated the 'most religious' list, while the 12 least religious states were located in New England."

This just shows how anachronistic my education has become.  When I was in first grade, there were only 6 states in New England.  Perhaps the others got added from the list of the 57 states candidate Obama visited.

UPDATE:  I particularly want to thank Alaska for moving into New England.  Up until today, it had been too far away to visit.

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Among the 12 states listed under heading of "Bottom 10" in this story are Oregon, D.C., Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada. And you didn't know they are in New England, Bill? For shame.

BTW, 12 states being in the bottom 10 is explainable by a 5-way tie at the end of the list. They could have broken the tie by adding a decimal place to the percentages, but that would be meaningless as less than the margin of error of the survey.

What Gallup actually says, as opposed to LiveScience's mangled version, is:

The 12 least religious states comprise the entirety of New England -- Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut -- along with the three most Northwestern states in the union, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, plus the District of Columbia, Nevada, and Hawaii.

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