The most (and least) sinful cities in the United States

In Louisiana, they say “let the good times roll.” And in Nevada, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

In fact, across the country, different states have their own reputations for vices and virtues. Some states hit the booze hard. Others are bad about bullying. Still others spend a lot of time on their computers staring at adult entertainment.

WalletHub set out to rank the states in our Union from most to least sinful, using “43 key indicators of immorality” to measure anger and hatred, jealousy, excesses and vices, greed, lust, vanity and laziness.

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Some of these indicators include: Violent crimes per capita, hate groups per capita, teen dating violence, thefts per capita, drug overdose deaths, share of adult coffee drinkers, persons arrested for embezzlement per capita, Google search interest index for “XXX entertainment,” beauty salons per capita, and average daily time spent watching TV.

Source: WalletHub


Clearly, someone at WalletHub put a lot of thought into how to measure sin. Still, some experts aren’t altogether convinced that this ranking is the definitive list, mainly because the definition of sin changes depending on who’s being asked about it.

“A committed Southern Baptist might think that a state that allows gambling is a sinful state,” Andrei Znamenski, a professor at the University of Memphis, told WalletHub. “A committed socialist true believer might say too that it is ‘sinful’ but from another perspective — because, to him/her it is capitalism in its worst. At the same time, a mainstream American left-liberal or a libertarian might say that it is not sinful because gambling generates money for state educational fund.”

Others who analyzed the data found the relative sinfulness of states to boil down to their legacy.

“Half of your ten most sinful states are southern,” John Kincaid, a professor of government and public service at Lafayette College, told WalletHub. “This is not surprising, given these states’ histories of racial discrimination, violence, and comparatively low socioeconomic status. Two more of the states are southwestern—New Mexico and Arizona. Two of the top 20, New York and New Jersey, have notorious reputations for corruption.” (Actually, New York ranks 24th).

Tennessee appears to be very angry and hateful, while Florida is prone to jealousy. Minnesota doesn’t indulge in many vices, but Ohio does. Texas tends to be lusty, while New York is vain. And West Virginia is for the lazy, but Utah is a place for hard workers.

Here are a few more takeaways from the WalletHub research:

Credit: WalletHub

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