Bible Belt Paradox Debate

There is an interesting conversation going on across a couple of blogs right now. PJ at PJ’s Big Adventure post an entry about how corrupt the Bible Belt states in the U.S. seem to be. (Wikipedia entry about the Bible Belt for those who don’t know much about it.) PJ muses that this paradox might have something to do with the negated statements in the 10 Commandments, making it into more of a To-Do list then a list of things to avoid. An interesting idea, but I wasn’t totally convinced. Maybe, since I am Canadian, it is because Texas and Florida don’t seem so corrupt to me. (Although you’d thank that Dallas and CSI: Miami would be convincing enough on their own.)

Well, Anders Sandberg over at Andart has posted some statistics. It seems that Liberals actually get arrested more often, but Fundamentalists are more likely to know people who were victims of a homicide. Sandberg cheekily notes: “…this seems to suggest that prayer is not very efficacious; presumably fundamentalists pray for the safety of their family and friends more, but they have a higher likelihood of getting killed.”

Sandberg also discovered that Fundamentalists are more likely to be lower or working class (these are different classes?), while Liberals are more likely to be middle or upper class. And Fundamentalists are more likely to live in self-described dangerous areas. Interesting, yes?

Sandberg sums up by saying that it appears that crime may cause fundamentalism. People who live in safe areas are less likely to need to comfort that religion gives them, while those who fell unsafe may look to religion and conservative values for solace.

All of this got me to thinking about how this meshes with Wiccans and other Pagans. The general consensus seems to be that Pagans are well educated and fairly Liberal in their outlook. So, maybe there isn’t always a correlation between crime and the need for religious beliefs. We can cleave fairly strongly to our beliefs without any environmental push (i.e. crime or poverty). Why is that?