Granite State Christians gearing up for the penitential season of Lent beginning Wednesday can rest assured that New Hampshire is full of Yankee saintliness, according to a new study.
WalletHub reports New Hampshire is the least sinful state in New England and the third least sinful state in the country.
Maybe it’s something in the water.
Comparing data points like rates of violent crime, theft, addiction, gambling, and porn use across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WalletHub ranked New Hampshire the third most virtuous place in the country.
Compared to the rest of the U.S., Granite Staters take “thou shalt not steal” seriously — with a low crime rate, including thefts and property crime. When it comes to “thou shalt not kill,” New Hampshire consistently has one of the lowest murder rates in the nation.
And if idle hands are the devil’s playground, New Hampshire residents ward off evil by keeping active, with one of the highest rates of residents who get regular exercise. Speaking of idle hands, Granite Staters also spend less time on pornographic websites than residents of most other states.
The report also ranks states using the metric of the Seven Deadly Sins, first enumerated by Pope Gregory I in the 6th century.
New Hampshire has the least amount of anger and hatefulness and is the third least lazy state. Granite Staters rank low on the jealousy and excessive vice rankings as well and manage to keep vanity and lust under control as well, according to the WalletHub study.
However, Granite Staters might want to consider giving up behaviors that lead to avarice for lent, as New Hampshire ranks in the top 20 for most amount greed.
Ash Wednesday begins the 40-day season of Lent, during which Christians undergo a season of sacrifice to prepare for Easter. Tara Bishop, communications director for the Diocese of Manchester, said despite apparent virtue found among New Hampshire’s good people, everyone is encouraged to take a Lenten journey of self-sacrifice.
“As we’re beginning Lent, we encourage everyone to dive into its opportunities for self-reflection, penitence, prayer, and almsgiving – a great time to make a change for the better,” Bishop said.
Ironically, New Hampshire is also one of the most secular states in the union. According to World Population Review, just 33 percent of the state’s adults are religious, tied with Vermont for the lowest rate in America.
Regardless of one’s faith, vice and virtue have a financial cost, according to WalletHub’s study.
“The cost of state sins is something we have to share as a nation, though. Gambling alone costs the U.S. about $5 billion per year. That’s nothing compared to the amount of money we lose from smoking, though – over $300 billion per year. Harmful behavior on the individual level can add up to staggering economic costs on a national scale,” the report states.
Micah Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida’s Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, College of Community and Behavioral Sciences, said every state has a little bit of heaven and hell. Promoting virtue is something that communities can achieve, he said.
“I think the sinfulness of a city is rooted in those macro-level factors, like employment, law, and culture,” Johnson said. “I think the most saintly states are the ones that do the absolute best that they can to improve health and wellness in the context of its challenges and resources.”
He said targeting investment in things like additional prevention and recovery programs, outdoor space for recreation, and access to healthcare can lead to a saintlier population.
Wyoming and Idaho outrank New Hampshire when it comes to walking in the light, according to WalletHub. It may be no surprise that Nevada is considered the most sinful state, with California, Louisiana, Florida, and Pennsylvania rounding out the top five.