An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Second Place

According to a Gallup survey, Utah is the second most religious state in the nation—coming in two percentage points behind top-ranked Mississippi. The rest of the states in the top ten are all in the South—and all are noted for low income and low education levels. Looking at the list of “winners” makes one question the value of religion—especially when the educational level of the ten least religious states is so much higher than that of the top ten.

I suppose many Utahns will brag about ranking high on this list. Kind of like the BYU professor I heard speak in sacrament meeting a few years ago. He told of attending a U.N. conference on family values. He was appalled at delegates from countries who supported gay marriage, equal pay for women, and subsidized child care. He took comfort in finding delegates from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries who had values similar to his own.

Somehow, I don’t see that sharing family values with countries that oppress women and limit education as well as personal and religious freedom is anything to brag about. And I can’t help wishing we were in second place among states with high education attainments. I’d trade Utah’s religiosity for Vermont’s public school test scores.

But, I should not pass judgment. Another Gallop survey shows that churchgoers are happier—at least on Sundays—than non-churchgoers. It’s nice to know that being poor, uneducated, and even oppressed won’t bother us so long as we attend church. Maybe we can hope for first place next year.

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