Texas, Explained # 3 : Religion

The media, always looking for something to create a "newsworthy" story and generate buzz, loves to fill the airwaves/internet with those bizarre religious cults that often live in Texas, the American south, or the midwest. Outsiders hear a lot about David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, "drink the koolade, man"; the Westboro Baptist Church; that crazy ignoramus on the Texas Education committee for textbook selection , a dentist I think, who doesn't believe in evolution and is always willing to provide a non-intentionally humorous soundbite as to why he should be the deciding factor in science book selection for the entire nation; tele- evangelists such as Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker or Joel Olsteen; or any other number of hustlers, crazies, salesmen, ignoramuses, con-men, crooks, extremists and carnies out there.

Here are some ideas for your consideration:

1)Media always picks up on the crazies and provides them endless free promotion, for the simple fact that their controversial pronouncements garner attention and thus increase ratings

2)Don't believe everything you hear or see in the media - that includes me

3)There was once a very interesting news article in Texas Monthly - I have searched in vain for it in the years since, but it came out before the digital era and I just can't track it down - that went something like this : Texas is roughly divided in half, laterally, with the Baptist/Evangelical faiths/culture having more adherents in the northern half of the state, the Catholic faith having more adherents/culture in the southern half of the state. This one simple idea explains why the northern half of the state was "dry" (until very recently, did not sell alcohol in bars or restaurants or stores, except in very limited places), and the southern half of the state was "wet"(freely sold alcohol everywhere.) While the booze rules may have changed in recent years, the culture that goes along with the underlying attitudes remains the same: northern half is more conservative, southern half is more liberal. Dallas is considered one of the buckles on the Bible belt - neighborhoods there are zoned so that schools and churches are not near bars and sketchy parts of town. Houston has no zoning at all and is a free-for-all of religions, bars, and homes. Even today, the northern half of the state is dominated by conservative industries: banking, finance and retail; while the southern half of the state has more risk-taking industries :oil and energy industries, world-class medical centers, most of the unvisities in the state.

4)Here is some actual data about the percentage of folk in various faiths, comparing Texas to the rest of America. It's not nearly as scary as the media would suggest.

1 comment:

  1. As an atheist, I found living near Houston to be particularly insufferable.

    I can't imagine it could be any better in Dallas/Fort-Worth.