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Louisiana Ranks as 2022’s 5th Most Sinful State

09:00 March 03, 2022
By: Frances Deese

In a time of an ongoing global pandemic, supply chain shortages, economic hardships, all time high levels of burnout, and not to mention all that goes into making it through adulthood, we all rely on various vices to make it through. Some of these may be small, such as an extra serving of ice cream after dinner, while others can be catastrophic to individuals' personal lives and those around them, such as a drug addiction. These vices either are, or can turn into, immoral behaviors, which is synonymous with sinning. These can include acts that are selfish, shameful, harmful, or alienating, whatever your religious or political affiliations may be. They are by most standards based upon the factors of anger and hatred, jealousy, excesses and vices, greed, lust, vanity, and laziness.

In a recent study by WalletHub, where they compared all 50 states across 47 key metrics, Louisiana was found to be the fifth most sinful state in the US, and comes in number one for excesses and vices. The cost of sins is something that we all have to share and these harmful behaviors on an individual level can add up to staggering economic costs on national and state levels, as well as huge tolls on personal success and happiness.

While the flashy fun of a slot machine or cool, classic blackjack may seem all fun and games, it is a vice that many become addicted to. The annual cost nationally for problem gamblers is $5 billion, but that makes the annual, national cost of $300 billion we lose from smoking look like a drop in the bucket, which was a category with full weight for excesses and vices in WalletHub's report. Smoking is often acknowledged as an inexpensive treat for the working class, and its addictive chemicals plus the tobacco industry's large budget for advertising and promotions makes it even harder. According to the CDC, about 5.7 billion and close to 75% of all cigarette marketing goes towards price discounts to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers. This ease of access, like many other vices, makes it even harder to quit. On top of this, not a single state funds programs to help smokers quit and to keep young people from smoking at CDC recommended levels, and the "sin" of smoking exemplifies how the individual can only do so much to combat immoral behaviors.

Nearly two years ago when we all went into lockdown and were stuck at home, many were forced to face their unhealthy or potentially harmful behaviors. There is no denying that so many are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and adjusting to a new normal. Many want to seek help but the onslaught of those needing care either in the medical or mental health field has meant many have had to wait for services and care. Abstaining from vices or sinful behaviors is hard enough under normal circumstances, but even more so due to the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most recently the Omicron variant and surge.

Besides excesses and vices, Louisiana ranked fourth for anger and hatred, third for laziness, and eighth for jealousy. Some of the metrics that factored into these categories included share of adults not exercising, average weekly hours worked, excessive drinking, obese adults, debt to income ratio, drug overdose deaths, thefts, and violent crimes per capita. While something like excessive drinking is something an individual can seek help for, they may not always have the resources to do so and certain states may have factors that make them more sinful than others.

When asked what makes some states more sinful than others like law or culture, Julie Byrne, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Religion and Jewish Studies at Hofstra University, answered, "Lots of people think of sin in terms of personal choice, but another way is in terms of 'systemic sin,' things that are wrong with systems. So if there are sins in our systems, such as in the legal system…then people living in those systems have a harder time being healthy and good. Sometimes they have no good choices, only 'the lesser of two evils'—such as when someone is choosing between not paying the rent and not paying for medicine. Both are bad, but the person does not need to repent—the system does, if in the system they cannot make a living wage, or housing or prescription drugs are not affordable."

The state of Louisiana has one of the highest poverty rates in America with the 2019 poverty rate coming in at 19%, among many other persistent issues. The now cliche phrase, but originally from the Book of John in the Bible, reads, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." That is to say that the United States as a nation is suffering from many infrastructural and systemic issues, and the blame should not rest solely on individuals or states. This should not deter individuals from doing what they can to take action to better themselves and their communities, and there is still plenty of time in 2022 to form healthier habits.

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