I’m surrounded!

Isn’t this a lovely map? It shows the concentration of ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed victims of obsolete mythologies in the United States, with the lighter colors being the most enlightened and the dark reds being the most repressed and misinformed. Oh, it’s labeled as the frequency of religious adherents, but it’s the same thing.

You can see where I live — it’s in the dark splotch marring the western and southern corner of the state of Minnesota. It says that more than 75% of the people who live here are bible-wallopers — I believe it. On the bright side, I can hope that somewhere around a quarter of the people living here are sensible and unafflicted.

Hey, look — Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are paler than Minnesota!

The consensus is that this is NOT such a nice map after all. The methodology involved querying a subset of the religious organizations in the country about their membership, which has the dual problem of inflated self-reporting and the omission of religious groups that aren’t part of major national organizations. The general feeling, I think, is that the overall frequency of religious adherents is grossly underreported in major parts of the country.

So it’s not only inaccurate, it hides the magnitude of religious indoctrination.


  1. #1 Brownian
    July 11, 2007

    What about us Canadians? I suspect a large proportion of my fellow Albertans are quite religious (I already know they’re sack-of-hammers stupid). I mean, c’mon: we’ve got a creationist museum, holocaust deniers, and our former premier committed plagiarism in an online university course; what more do we have to do to get recognised as one of the more backward parts of Canada?

  2. #2 Brownian
    July 11, 2007

    I wonder how many of those Texans and Albertans who depend on oil for their livelihood and pay petroleum geologists to use their knowledge of the earth’s history to find deposits for them believe the earth is only 6,000 years old?

  3. #3 Glen
    July 11, 2007

    With all due respect to Richard Dawkins, I have a problem with this map. I come from escaped from Ohio to liberal New York (City, admittedly) 35 years ago. New York seems to have more and darker sections than Ohio. And who put Bush over the top in ’04? Which state is frothing about Idiotic Design? Which state amended its state constitution to exclude equal marriage?

    Moreover, the southern part of the state (aka Mean Jean territory, aka any county that borders on the Ohio River) is far more conservative than the northern, especially the Cleveland area. (The center, including my native Columbus, oscillates back and forth.) The map makes Cincinnati look like San Francisco. Um, how should I put this? NO!

    Sorry. The map is entertaining, but not predictive. Ask any ex-pat. I know several.

  4. #4 rp
    July 11, 2007

    Thanks, Brownian. I’d missed that. I can hardly wait for Ralph to leave.

    Alberta is truly redneck country compared to the rest of Canada, but I don’t think we’re particularly religious – maybe I’m lucky, but it’s been about 20 years since someone asked me if I’ve been saved. Of course, I do self-describe as heathen…

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?
    July 12, 2007

    Especially since my home state gave the last election to W.

    Not your home state. J. Kenneth Blackwell did it. He counted the votes.

  6. #6 David Marjanovi?
    July 12, 2007

    Especially since my home state gave the last election to W.

    Not your home state. J. Kenneth Blackwell did it. He counted the votes.

  7. #7 kemibe
    July 12, 2007

    I’ve seen this map before and may have evenposted it on my blog, and I don’t think it accurately represents the relationship between religiosity of the sort that chafes most of the frequenters of Pharyngula and the like and place of residence.

    Look at Massachusetts, for example. Not dark deoxygenated-blood red like West Texas and Utah, but basically entirely red all the same. Yet New England is notoriously areligious from the standpoint of church attendance and penetrance of friggy beliefs. I grew up an hour from Boston, and you couldn’t tell my Catholic friends (practically all churchgoers in Southern NH are Catholic, although I remember a Jewish kid somewhere in the mix one year) from my heathen self except for them having to sit in church on Sundays.

    Now look at Virginia. You’d think from the map that it was rife with nonbelievers (which in the DC and Norfok areas it largely is). As a resident of Roanoke in the SW portion of the state, I can assure you that even a blind man running willy-nilly at a modest clip would smash into the side of a church within about five minutes of initiating such pseduo-Brownian motion. And this is in a good-sized city (250,000); cities are well-known for diluting religiosity or at least its weird influence even in thr South.

    I’m going to see if I can dig up the “% going to church X times a month” map I saw somewhere, which I think would be more pertinent.

    Odds seem good that I’m echoing what one or more commenters have already said, but I don’t have time to read ’em all yet.

  8. #8 Brownian
    July 12, 2007

    Oh brother. I read the comments on Rob Knob’s post and noticed the Pharyngulites had already descended to tear him to shreds.

    He makes the same old “Yeah, lots of religious people are dangerous but my beliefs don’t hurt anybody, so get off my back” argument that is so popular with moderates.

    I had an argument with a moderate friend of mine the other day, who ironically, works for a Canadian agency that promotes multiculturalism and fights bigotry. I asked her how she reconciles her passion for her job with her faith in a bigoted, homophobic, and sexist god and eventually we got to the root of it all: she doesn’t believe in the ‘bad’ parts of the bible, just the ‘good’ parts, and her beliefs don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights.

    Ah, so it’s alright to believe in god as long as it’s some sort of attenuated and muzzled ‘feel-good fairy’ that you don’t share with anyone else.

  9. #9 Norman Doering
    July 12, 2007

    Shawn wrote:

    Let it be known that it is Norman who has released the Pharyngulites…

    And it’s PZ who is trying to pull them back.

    But really, there were plenty of comments tearing into Rob already and I didn’t bother to comment myself. It would have been pointless.

    I may point out his post, but I’m not telling anyone what to say. Maybe you should say something nice to Rob… what I don’t know. Would it be nice to say that people like Rob and Chris Hedges and Paul Vallely are doing more to help destroy religion than PZ and Dawkins ever could?

    Religion is only very slowly barely being whittled away by atheistic books and debates. Such attacking from the outside only seems to give us atheists a few tiny percentage points per generation, and then we could slip back to lose what we gained. What goes unseen is how religion is also rotting from the inside out. It’s harder to see this happening but the signs are seen in how once clear definitions of God and dogma are degenerating into sophistry, vagueness and obfuscation. Religion is dying slowly within people who would still count themselves among the believers and Rob does his bit there by arguing for his shallow shell of mystery.

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