Texas prides itself on righteousness. It’s a state led by hardline conservatives who govern with a Bible in one hand. Its citizens boast of their own virtuous, neighborly lifestyles—ideals espoused even by the secular and godless among us. And yet we’re all apparently going to hell. Texas is the second most sinful state in America, according to data from dozens of federal bureaus compiled by WalletHub. The personal finance website has made our wickedness plain for all to see.
How did Texas, a state that routinely deploys “God-fearing” as an adjective, end up second only to Nevada—a land of all-night gambling and avaricious Pawn Stars? If Jesus were to return tomorrow and opt to launch his second coming by visiting WalletHub.com, he would have no choice but to rain fire upon us, the angel’s trumpet coldly citing the statistics. But what are those statistics, exactly?
WalletHub explains its methodology on its site but offers only a limited glimpse into how each state fared. For example, we know that Texas’s “Vice Index” is 55.53—just behind Nevada’s 55.99 rating and just ahead of Florida’s 55.05. We also know that we rank a reassuring thirty-sixth in “Excesses and Vices” and a—frankly alarming!—first place for “Lust.” Still, there’s nothing to explain what makes us so exceptionally lusty, beyond the hot, sultry air that swirls through on a summer’s eve, kissing our sweat-puckered skin, caressing muscles taut from a day of plowing or riding bareback across fertile valleys of … I mean, yes, there is that. We also wear very tight jeans. But we could use some hard data here, and no, damn it, I’m not trying to be saucy.
Thanks for reading Texas Monthly
Fortunately, WalletHub’s communications manager responded to my request almost immediately, so I am able to present to you a far more detailed breakdown of Texas’s myriad sins, helpfully categorized.
This one’s a bit nebulous, a conclusion drawn largely from the idea that stealing, in any capacity, must be a direct outgrowth of coveting thy neighbor’s … whatever. With that in mind, Texas’s eighth-place ranking can be attributed to its high placements for identity theft complaints per capita (fifth), as well as the even more general “fraud and other complaints” per capita (eighth). In terms of just regular old theft, though, we’re a respectable twenty-first—suggesting that, at the very least, Texas criminals have figured out more sophisticated strategies for taking your stuff.
Excesses & Vices
Here is where the line between “sin” and “indulgence” becomes slightly more blurred, considering that the metrics used to cast judgment upon us here include the number of fast-food establishments per capita (we’re twentieth, if you must know) and our share of adult coffee drinkers (sixth). Indeed, the puritans who drew up this study between penitent floggings for fantasizing about Starbucks are also after us for our share of smokers (forty-first) and our excessive drinking (twenty-ninth). Yet we have relatively low rankings for both of those, as well as for our retail opioid prescriptions (thirty-second), drug overdoses (forty-seventh), and share of the population that uses marijuana—we’re somehow dead last in the nation at fiftieth place, the efforts of Austin and Willie Nelson notwithstanding. Besides enjoying a cup of coffee, we apparently also have one of the highest shares of “adults who have reported having driven after drinking too much.” Oh, so we’re too honest. That’s a sin now?
Texas’s lack of casinos probably spared us from being named America’s most sinful state, although our seventh-place ranking in gambling-related arrests and our ninth-place ranking for gambling disorders suggest we’ve simply found other outlets and/or Shreveport. While we are near the bottom in terms of embezzlement arrests (forty-first), we’re comfortably above average when it comes to charitable donations as share of income, offering up an average of 1.3 percent to put us at twentieth in the country. So at least those ill-gotten gains are going to a good cause (1.3 percent of them, anyway).
Again, here’s the bad news: Texas is first in American lust. The biggest deciding factor in this analysis of our collective horniness? Texas leads the nation in internet porn, scoring highest in Google-indexed search interest for “XXX Entertainment.” If it’s any consolation, however, we at least seem to have a greater appreciation of the art form: while other states are scrubbing quickly through the plot, we’re at thirteenth place in amount of time spent on adult websites, averaging eleven minutes per session.
Perhaps predictably for our horndog state, Texas was also ranked as being exceptionally vain—sixth in the nation, in fact, well ahead of all those other ugmos. We definitely spend a lot on personal care products (seventeenth), but most of that high ranking can be attributed to two factors: our high rate of beauty salons per capita (eighth) and our first-place ranking in internet searches for plastic surgery. Alas, there are no numbers pertaining to whether we then actually go through with it. But I suppose even entertaining the thought is its own form of vanity.
Somewhat paradoxically—or not—Texas also apparently has a high share of adults who don’t exercise (25 percent, to place us fifteenth). But beyond this, we could hardly be called lazy: after all, WalletHub is the same company that called us the fourth-hardest working state only a few months back. Not to question the credibility of this pop-science study on a personal finance site, but its latest numbers now have us at forty-seventh in the nation in terms of average weekly hours worked. We’re also not doing so great with our twelfth-place share of “disconnected youth,” i.e. people ages 16-24 who are neither in school nor employed. Fortunately, we make up for it, however slightly, with our lower-than-average daily time spent watching TV (twenty-eighth) and our high volunteer rate (fifteenth). But being called lazier than California—twenty-seventh to our twenty-fourth—has to sting a bit. Not enough to, y’know, do anything about it, but it stings all the same.
Anger & Hatred
Texas is ranked nineteenth in the nation in “Anger & Hatred,” arguably the most troubling, least amusing-for-a-wry-trend-piece category in this entire study. While we’re on the lower end of hate groups per capita (thirty-fourth), bullying (thirty-third), elder abuse (thirty-ninth), and road rage (thirty-eighth), we are squarely in the middle when it comes to maltreated children (twenty-seventh), firearms-related deaths per capita (twenty-seventh), aggravated assault arrests (twenty-eighth), and hate crimes (twenty-fifth). Even more troubling, we’re among those leading the nation in sex offenders per capita (fifteenth), violent crimes per capita (seventeenth), discrimination cases (fourteenth), and high school kids bringing guns onto school property (fourteenth). But you can attribute Texas’s high overall standing in anger to a single factor: we’re number one in mass shootings, a dark statistic that leaves us with plenty to atone for. And as the responses to public discussions of gun violence have repeatedly borne out, we’re also ranked twelfth in “hostile internet comments,” so good luck to us ever working that out … especially since we’re too busy drinking coffee and being lustful.
So, what have we learned? Texas is a state of horny, conceited, coffee-fueled sinners, our fates sealed by our Google searches and unfortunate inability to keep guns out of the hands of homicidal maniacs. If and when Judgment Day comes, we’d better hope that God is willing to take a closer look at the data—and that no one leaves him a nasty comment in the process.