Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Religion and Pornography

by Pa Rock
Social Critic

The Gallup organization released a poll last month that revealed a couple of important findings regarding religiosity in the United States. First, the poll demonstrated that we live in a basically religious country where 65% of Americans regard religion as "an important part of their daily lives."

The second significant finding of the poll was that the degree of religiosity varies widely by region. There is, according to the poll by Gallup, a distinct "Bible Belt" where religion plays a very significant aspect in peoples' lives. That belt is a strip across the American South that includes eleven of the most religious states: Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Texas. The least religious states were in New England and the West: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and (are you listening, Sarah?) Alaska.

Political note: Nine of the ten most religious states voted for McCain, and nine of the ten least religious states wound up in the Obama column.

Okay, so let's overlay the results of that poll with a new piece of research on America's interest in Internet pornography. The researcher was Benjamin Edelman, and his work was also published last month.

A major on-line porn provider gave their credit card billing records (anonymized so that porn clients were identified only by their zip codes) to Mr. Edelman. After a statistical analysis of those records the researcher was able to delineate a group of states that were the heaviest subscribers to Internet porn and a list of states that were the lightest subscribers.

The most "porn-a-holic" states were Utah, Alaska, Mississippi, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Dakota, Louisiana, and West Virginia. That list includes the home of the Mormon Church (Utah - which was ranked number one in Internet porn usage), Sarah Palin's Alaska, and four states of the Bible Belt: Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

The least porn dependent states were Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Tennessee, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Political note: Eight of the top ten pornography consuming states voted for John McCain, and six out of the lowest ten voted for Barack Obama.

What does all of this mean? Does going to church regularly fan the flames of prurient desire? Do stories of all of those lusty babes of the Bible get the blood flowing south? Can the human spirit take only so much sanctimonious blather before it goes looking for something more titillating? Should we keep our kids out of church for the sake of their immortal souls?

It all sounds so hopeless - the higher we set our sights, the further we fall. But there is a glimmer of hope. The research on Internet porn usage showed that people in the most religious areas did cut back on their acquisition of pornography on Sundays!

Can I have an Amen!