Far from being filled with the Holy Spirit, it appears as if some religious leaders and their authoritarian followers are filled with what John Dean refers to as "cheap grace."
It is as as if these individuals had worn down their consciences with cheap grace--a remarkable and frightening process. "One of the things a conscience is supposed to do is make us act better, but when you have a means of eliminating guilt there is not much incentive to clean up your act. You see how conscience gets short circuited," (Robert) Altmeyer noted. He added. "bad behavior may produce guilt, but it is easily washed away.
So then more bad behavior can result again and again, getting removed very easily through religion. There is a terrible closing to this reality. The lack of guilt over things he has done in the past can actually contribute to the self-righteousness of the authoritarian. And this self-righteousness has proven, in experiments, to be the main factor that unleashes the right wing authoritarian's aggressive impulses."
He concluded, "I have called them 'God's designated hitters.' We end up with the irony that the people who think they are so very good end up doing so very much evil, and more remarkably, they are probably the last people in the world who will ever realize the connection between the two." There is no better explanation for the behavior of many Christian conservatives, for it accounts for their license to do ill, Christian beliefs notwithstanding." -From Conservatives Without Conscience (page 64) -by John Dean
Consider the following:
THE 10 STATES WITH THE HIGHEST OVER ALL INCARCERATION RATES: Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona , Delaware. In short, nine out of ten were Red States. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners, 2003 (November 2004)]
THE 10 STATES WITH THE HIGHEST RATE OF FEMALE INCARCERATION IN 2003: Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Alabama, Nevada, Colorado. Ten out of ten were Red States. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners 2003 (November 2004)]
THE TEN STATES WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF EXECUTIONS IN 2004 WERE ALL RED STATES: Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Nevada . [Bureau of Justice Statistics. Capital Punishment, 2004 (November 2005)]
The 15 STATES WITH THE HIGHEST RATES OF DEATH BY FIREARMS IN 2003 WERE ALL RED STATES: Alaska , Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Alabama, Mississippi, Montana, Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky. [Deaths. Final Date for 2003 National Center For Health Statistics Volume 54, No 13, 2006 ]
OF THE 15 STATES WITH THE HIGHEST RATES OF SUICIDE, 14 OUT OF 15 WERE RED STATES: Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho , Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, South Dakota, Kentucky. [Deaths. Final Date for 2003, National Center for health statistics. Volume 54. No 13, 2006]
TEN OF THE TOP TEN STATES WITH THE HIGHEST DIVORCE RATES ARE RED STATES: Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida. [Division of Vital Statistics. National Center for Health Statistics CDC. 2005 among 45 reported.]
NINE OF THE TEN STATES WITH THE HIGHEST ILLEGITIMACY RATES ARE RED STATES: New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Delaware, Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Georgia, Arizona. [Births. Final Data for 2003. National Center for Health, Statistics. Volume 54, Nov 2, 2005 ]
14 OF THE 15 STATES WITH THE HIGHEST OBESITY RATES ARE RED STATES: Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee,Louisiana, Arizona, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia. [Behavioral Risk Surveillance System. Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2004 ]
EIGHT OF THE ELEVEN STATES WITH THE HIGHEST GROSSING MARKETS FOR GAMBLING ARE RED STATES: Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana, Illinois. Montana, Michigan, Iowa, Colorado, South Dakota. [United States Gaming Bulletin. Ernst Young 2005. Includes Native American gambling. ]
EIGHT OF THE TEN SMARTEST STATES ARE BLUE STATES: Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Montana, New York. (On the other hand, the 10 states with the worst paid teachers are all red states. Out of the bottom states, eight out of ten are red states, a situation that might be explained by the fact that blue states place a higher premium on both education and a willingness to pay for education. [From Morgan Quinto Press. Based on 21 factors from its reference book Education State Rankings 2005-2006]
Perhaps the Bible Belt is too busy concentrating on the "evil" it imagines in others to notice that the problems it complains about most, are in the highest evidence in their own backyard.
Methinks they have forgotten a biblical passage that as believers, they should be aware of, and reminded of often:
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" - Matthew 7:3
In other words, they should clean up their own act before they try blaming the world's problems on everyone else excluding themselves.
"no short haired-yellow bellied son of tricky dicky is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me with just a pocketful of hope" - John Lennon
Red States and Blue States
Divorce rates highest in the red states
Red-State vs Blue-State Morality
The League Table of Teenage Births