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Perspective: Idaho was named the least sinful state. As a Utahn, I am devastated

Eight states out-virtued Utah, a place with a church, it seems, on every street corner. How could we let this happen?

SHARE Perspective: Idaho was named the least sinful state. As a Utahn, I am devastated

Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Nothing lasts forever, including a state’s run as least sinful, but I didn’t expect Utah’s fall from grace to hurt so much.

In this year’s ranking of the most sinful states in America, WalletHub named Idaho the least sinful, and as a lifelong resident of Utah, I have to ask — HOW COULD WE LET THIS HAPPEN?

Between this and the poll revealing Utah’s preferred Halloween candy is Three Musketeers (?!!!), we seem to be having a very real identity crisis.

There is good candy — Snickers, Baby Ruth, 100 Grand — and there is fine candy — Kit Kat, Charleston Chew, Junior Mints.

But then there is bad candy. A plain Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. Anything Dove. Sprees. And then way down the ladder is Three Musketeers.

And we as a people declared the latter as our candy of choice. Our favorite, even. The candy that’s hardly even candy. The treat that makes those gnarly strawberry candies that have been in a jar on your grandmother’s counter since 1985 look tempting. The sweet that grows stale in the dregs of every kid’s trick-or-treat bucket. The snack that makes you question if you’re actually eating anything or just chewing on weird-tasting air.

And we said we like it above all other choices. In fact, we were the only state in the nation to do so.

And so, if our poor candy choice was one of the sins factored into WalletHub’s ranking, I think we’d deserve spot No. 1.

But no. There were seven “key dimensions” of sin, none of which included candy: anger and hatred, jealousy, excesses and vices, greed, lust, vanity and laziness.

After what I’m sure was a highly scientific process, eight states out-virtued No. 42 Utah, a place with a church on literally every street corner. 

There is clearly a problem with any methodology that puts North Dakota, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Iowa, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming and Idaho above Utah. I contest it below:

  • North Dakota: One of two Dakotas. Pretty clearly falls into the “excess” sin category.
  • Minnesota: Mall of America, anyone? Greed. No one needs a mall that big. Save some mall for the rest of us.
  • New Hampshire: I don’t know this for a fact, but I assume New Hampshire is jealous of its more prominent nearby states. It has to be. You mean to tell me New Hampshire does not wish it was New York? Yeah, right.
  • Iowa: Too much corn. Gluttony.
  • South Dakota: See North Dakota.
  • Vermont: Everyone has a crush on Ben and Jerry. Lust.
  • Wyoming: Once in Wyoming I saw a veterinary office right next door to a taxidermist. Tell me that’s not suspicious and sinful. Also, I’m pretty sure they ranked as well as they did because only seven people live there, and they all migrated from Utah.    

What really hurts though is Idaho coming out on top, or bottom, in this case. I can live with Utah not being the least sinful state, as hard to believe as I may find it. But I cannot live with Idaho being less sinful than us. 

Have we slipped? Has BYU-Idaho now supplanted BYU-Provo as the most stone-cold sober university in the country? Is there a Utah town with fewer than 19 LDS chapels? Perhaps a spireless corner?

Is Swig spiking the sodas?

Or has Idaho simply surpassed us in wholesomeness while we’ve let our halos grow dusty? Has the world realized Provo is a party town compared to Rexburg? Does Idaho have 20 chapels in every town? Two per corner? Are all the Idaho soda shops selling only caffeine-free beverages?

Or is it that we’ve had such a positive influence on our northern neighbor that it’s a standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants situation. Is Utah to Plato as Idaho is to Aristotle? The Rolling Stones to our Beatles? The Karate Kid to our Mr. Miyagi?

Is this how a dad feels when his son finally beats him in basketball? A little proud, but also confused and embarrassed? Head hung, clutching the ball, while his son runs a raucous victory lap around the court?

Or is this somehow potato-related, as most things coming out of Idaho are? Maybe our orchards and dairy farms just can’t compare to the abundant potato fields that dot the gem state. A plate of cheese curds hardly compares to a plate of heavenly fluffy mashed russets. We serve funeral potatoes to grieving families who need to feel connected to the celestial — not funeral cheddar squares. Idaho will always have the superior spuds, I concede.

Whatever the cause may be for our pathetic 2022 spot on the sin list, I hope we as a people are prepared to try a little harder next year. Let’s brush off those halos, take a sip of our Postum, and get to work moving up the ranks.

We may have to cede the most virtuous spot to Idaho for as long as their potato harvest remains robust, but I think we can at least out-saint Wyoming and one of the Dakotas.