Red State/Blue State Divide – Teenage Pregnancy & Religiosity

With no apologies to Bill Maher for borrowing his term, “religulous”, there  seems to be a direct correlation between religion and teenage pregnancy rates and not in the way that you might expect.  The states with the highest level of teenage pregnancy are also those that are the most religious according to a new research study reviewed by MSNBC.  You can go to the article and sort the list of states by teenage pregnancy (data from the CDC) and by degree of religiosity (data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life).  As the article, written by Jeanna Brynner, states “U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth.”   The study did find more abortion in less religious states which would naturally reduce the pregnancy rate.

The number one state with conservative religious beliefs and teenage pregnancy going hand in hand was Mississippi.  WI rated 41 in birth rate and 40th in religiosity.  Another state I enjoy following, the sorry state of SC, was 13th in birth rate and 3rd in religiosity.

Not too surprising, the researchers postulate that more religious states are better at discouraging contraception (abstinence training anyone?) then they are at impacting teenage sexual practices.   Alabama, rated 12th in teenage pregnancy and 2nd in religiousness, should really re-consider their ban on the public sale of  sex toys.

h/t to AmericaBlog


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6 thoughts on “Red State/Blue State Divide – Teenage Pregnancy & Religiosity

  1. This is very interesting, but it would be nice to see individual level data. What exactly is affecting these teens? Is it their OWN religiosity, or maybe that of their parents, or maybe neither but rather just the overall culture they’re exposed to from society and institutions as they grow up? I tend to think it’s the last one. If it were their own religion, the effects could be totally different depending on their denomination, etc.

    1. Thanks for your comments. It really does require more research or a reading of the entire report once it is published in a medical journal.

  2. Or maybe this is why?

    “The study did find more abortion in less religious states which would naturally reduce the pregnancy rate.”

  3. What a tremendous leap to jump to the conclusion from this data. 36,000 is way too small of a sample size show any kind of correlation when applied on a state by state basis. For example if they polled people in the same proportion as the state populations, that would mean about 61 Wyomingites were questioned. The same for a couple of dozen other smaller states.

    I wonder what the other 6 questions were, because the two they listed (both about how literal the teachings & scriptures of their religion should be) have no bearing whatsoever on the specific positions on teen/pre-marital sex. Many Protestant churches teach birth control is just fine – though still don’t approve of promiscuity. To make assumptions about what a church and more importantly what the parents are teaching about sex based on how religious a person said they were is…well it’s prejudicial and just plain foolish. Sure we know for example that the Catholic church has historically been strongly anti-birth control. But the results would seem to take that and presume that anyone who is a practicing Catholic follows this to the letter – most of the Catholics I know rank the importance of following this right up there with fasting before Communion. That is to say, it’s among the least important tenets to follow and don’t feel particularly guilty about it.

    The only real conclusion you can draw from this is that some states have higher teen pregnancy than others. Duh – we already knew that. Sure it would perhaps be ironic (though also not terribly surprising) if families who more strictly follow a set of religious beliefs tend to have more unmarried teen pregnancies. But tying religion and the political leanings of a state by state wide pregnancy states with this data is tenuous at best, but more likely tells more about the bias of the researcher than anything.

  4. Of course, unlike the woman, the primary organs of reproduction of the male sex include just the penis and the testes. But these organs, especially the testes, are under a complex cycle of hormonal and chemical influences. Problems with any of these could result in infertility or poor fertility.

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