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.
However, 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?