Despite many verses in the Bible that indicate all sin is equally evil in the eyes of God (see James 2:10), a new study has ranked America’s states in order of sinfulness. And the findings, the methodology, the questions, and the conclusion are actually pretty fascinating.
Perhaps most intriguing is the fact that the study was not conducted by a religious organization. Instead, the study was done by WalletHub, a relatively young personal finance website based in Washington, D.C.
Spoiler alert: Nevada—home of Las Vegas (also known as “Sin City”)—ranked #1 on the list of most sinful states in America. But is that really any surprise?
So why would a personal finance website be interested in ranking states according to sinfulness?
The short answer is that WalletHub believes there is a literal price tag associated with “sins.” For instance, according to their website, gambling costs our country roughly $5 billion every year. And smoking?—that costs us over $300 billion annually.
In WalletHub’s words, “Harmful behavior on the individual level can add up to staggering economic costs on a national scale.”
Bottom line: For them, it’s all about the money.
So, without further ado, here are the results—
The top five states in order of “most sinful” to “least,” are as follows:
And the bottom five states are as follows:
48. North Dakota
Click here to see the full list and to learn where your state ranks.
WalletHub made no secret about how it came to its conclusions. It compared all 50 states across 7 different dimensions, including—
1. Anger andHatred
3. Excesses andVices
Each of these 7 dimensions represented a rigorous sub-list of metrics. “Greed,” for example, was determined by collecting and assessing the following statistics:
1. Casinos per Capita
2. Charitable Donations as Share of Income
3. Share of Population with Gambling Disorders
4. Persons Arrested for Embezzlement per Capita
According to WalletHub’s website, “We examined those dimensions using 43 relevant metrics … Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the highest level of sinfulness. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across states.”
WalletHub noted in their report that they asked a panel of experts the following questions as part of the study—
1. What makes some states more sinful than others? Laws? Culture?
2. Should sport betting be legalized across theU.S. by the Federal Government? What are the pros and cons of such a move?
3. What are the most efficient measures that federal and state authorities can use to curb the obesity epidemic? Is something like the “soda tax”a valid approach?
4. Given that U.S. hate crimes are on the rise, what can be done to reverse this uptick?
5. How can federal authorities combat human trafficking? Is legalizing prostitution a good idea?
Romans 3:23 makes it clear that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. To try to parse out whom among us has fallen shorter or harder than the rest of us makes little sense. In other words, it’s probably a good idea to refrain from drawing too many theological conclusions from the WalletHub research. Otherwise, the study would indicate that predominantly secularist New England is the least sinful of all.
That said, it is also fascinating to consider that in an era where “truth” has been replaced with “my truth,” and where “sin” has become an antiquated term, and where discernment has gone the way of the dodo bird, a group—that doesn’t even claim to be religious—believes certain behaviors still qualify as sin.
True, the list of sinful behaviors include things like hate crimes and bullying—which believers and unbelievers alike agree is sin—but the list also lists obesity, smoking, drug use, debt, pornography, and plastic surgery.
And these vices have largely become acceptable in our society, haven’t they?
“I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
Perhaps this should be the final question for the experts: Without God, who determines what is sin?