“Utah has the nation’s highest rate of depression among thirty-seven-year old ambidextrous Battlestar Galactica fans named Zeb.” (That’s based on rock-solid statistical statistickizing.) However, “Utah [also] has the lowest rate of Tuesday afternoon divorce of any mountainous state located west of the Mississippi.” What are we to make of such statistics? In any given week, from current members or disaffected members or both, you may hear statistical claims made about rates of divorce, drug use, depression, spousal and child abuse, Prozac use, Satanism, teen pregnancy, and a dozen other things. A few of these statistics might even be true. And they all seem tied to normative claims about the relative merit of the church itself.
So what should we take away from the fact that Utah (maybe) has the [highest/lowest/in-betweenest] incidence of [sex/drugs/rock and roll/Satanism/green jello consumption/blogging/and so forth] in the [country/corridor/hemisphere/universe]? How much of the collective habits and attributes of Utahns should be tied to the church?
If Utah has high rates of depression, is it because of the church? If Utah has low rates of divorce, is that because of the church? How do we decide our yesses and noes? Just how much of the demographic goods and ills of one state’s populace can or should be laid at the feet of the church — and why?