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Fat Christianity

I’ve been examining the implications of the most consistent trend found by the American Religious Identification Survey: The United States is becoming less Christian. The rate of Christianity is decreasing in every state, and has been for twenty years.

christianity obesity graphHowever, there is a great deal of difference among the 48 states measured in the survey. Some states remain much more Christian than other states. I’m interested in the connections that these patterns of remnant Christianity have with other aspects of American culture. In particular, I’ve been examining the claims of the preachers of the Prosperity Gospel, which promises that God will reward people for being Christian by making them more prosperous.

It turns out that the poverty rate is actually higher in the states that have the highest rate of Christianity. Last week, though, a reader pointed out that there are many aspects to prosperity – health and social well-being, for example. So, I’ve started out with health.

I’ve looked at many health statistics, but I have yet to find a single statistic that shows that more Christian states have more healthy populations. Sometimes I’m finding that the rate of Christianity has no association with a particular form of health. Other times, as with the link between Christianity and child mortality, I’m finding that the less prevalent Christianity is in a state, the more healthy the state is.

That’s the case with obesity. As the scatter plot graph you see above shows, there’s a strong association between the rate of Christianity in a state and the prevalence of residents being overweight in that state. Each blue dot is a state, and you can see the trend on the graph as a tilt from lower left to upper right. Less Christian states have fewer obese residents.

Do Christians believe that God wants them to be overweight?

11 comments to Fat Christianity

  • Jacob

    I think this just proves that kitchen at the church is well loved and that we like to have “fellowship”. We cant smoke, we cant drink, we can sleep around. Actually about all we can do is eat, so we do… ;-)

  • Tom

    Wow, Jacob – you guys get to sleep around?! Can you post some of the videos too? What denomination is that anyway: the ones who espouse the “love thy neighbor” clause more than the “prosperity gospel”?

    This graph is hilarious! i think if you charted cat owners, tv watchers or even book readers the chart would be about the same since obesity is basically intrinsic to our “hydrogenated corn oil”-soaked food supply and therefore society at large (get it?). Bwah-hah-hah, i kill me . . .

    • Tom, this chart illustrates not our “society at large”, but the differences between states. The chart clearly shows that obesity is not equally intrinsic across the USA.

  • Jacob

    Opps. Thats a bad place for a typo…

  • Dave

    Of course Truman, we could never doubt the accuraccy of you conclusions. Hopefully you’ll be published someday.

  • Dave

    Well…Lets see…. Could there be any other variables involved here? Say education, race, genenitics, ect. I notice he doesn’t list the states for all of his conclusions. I’m assuming that the states with a higher index for Christian, child mortality,obesity, and less income are Southern states. Why yes, a quick internet search shows that to be correct. Using Truman’s deductive logic, since southern states have a much higher percentage of Blacks, can we assume if your black you will be less prosperous, a child killer, fat and poor? His conclusions are flawed, just as the above example is. Come on Jim, your smarter than that. Now if Truman could show me some research that compares all of the topics he has listed using a study that compares Christians to non-Christians he would have a leg to stand on.

    • Jim

      You’re not engaging with Truman’s point, which is to assess the Prosperity Gospel. The data is not consistent with the claim made by proponents of the Prosperity Gospel. The prosperity religious claim doesn’t control for sociodemographic variables in its claim: it’s a scam saying that if you want to have prosperity, you go to church and pray to God (and not coincidentally give the pastor your tithe. Someone came along and, noting that Truman had shown financial prosperity of an area is not associated with its Christianity, said, golly, prosperity means health, not money. You know, trying to change the terms. So Truman’s showing that doesn’t wash either.

  • Dave

    Jim,
    For the record, I don’t subscibe to the Prosperity Gospel. However,Truman is comparing comparing apples to oranges. I suspect all of his conclusions are based on geography and not religion. The only way an accurate conclusion can be made is comparing Christians to non Christians.

    • Jim

      I agree with you about the level of analysis at the individual level being ideal… but my hunch is that the result would be similar.

      Hey, Truman, want to talk offline about datasets? Gimme call; I think I have an idea.

  • Sam

    with the country being more and more tolerant of other peoples religion, sexual orientation, and other things, It’s no surprise that christianity is decreasing :)

    I’m excited:D

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