Scoring the seven deadly sins county by county

Although religion seems to permeate life in America, it isn’t often someone tries to quantify how good or bad we may be. County Sin Rankings takes a somewhat waggish approach to doing so.

It relates seven factors to the seven deadly sins to come up with a score. Here’s the sins and correlative factor:

  • Pride – High school dropout rate
  • Greed – Income equality
  • Envy – Unemployment rate
  • Wrath – Violent crime rate (for some reason, no data was available or listed for South Dakota)
  • Lust – Chlamydia rate
  • Gluttony – Adult obesity
  • Sloth – Poor or fair health

The rankings compare only counties within a state, not counties in different states. While it’s easy to debate specific correlations between the factors and the sins, it’s still kind of fun to see how some of our areas rate.

Minnehaha County comes off fairly well, falling on the “good” side of the scale in all but pride. With a one percent difference, Lincoln County slides into the “good” side of the scale in the pride category, making it good across the board. Hughes County‘s worst scores are for pride and gluttony, although even those are in the mid-range. I will leave it to the political experts to debate whether there is any significance to that. Pennington County, meanwhile, falls into the mid-range for pride and greed but is generally “good” otherwise. Lawrence County, our gambling mecca, scores worst in greed, although it still manages to stay in the mid-range.

The role economics plays in the calculation and how there isn’t necessarily a correlation between these factors and the sins is seen in some of the counties that don’t fare all that well. Buffalo, Shannon and Todd counties commonly are are at or near the the top of the list of the poorest counties in the country. (So is Ziebach but data is not available for it on the site.) None falls on the “good” side of the scale in any category.

Buffalo County rates “bad” greed, envy, gluttony and sloth. It’s best ranking is in lust, where it is about mid-range. Shannon County rates “bad” in lust and gluttony and comes near that ranking in sloth and envy. It’s best ranking is in greed, but even that is on the bad end of mid-range. Finally, Todd County is truly bad only in pride. It is mid-range in envy and lust, sliding toward bad in the other categories.

By sin and available data, here’s the “goodest” and “baddest” counties:


Good: Dewey, Douglas, Hanson, McCook, Potter, Roberts

Bad: Todd


Good: Bon Homme, Custer

Bad: Buffalo, Sanborn


Good: Beadle, Brookings, Brown, Hughes, Jerauld, Lincoln

Bad: Buffalo


Good: Turner

Bad: Shannon


Good: Lawrence

Bad: Shannon


Good: Brookings, Clay, Hamlin, Hanson

Bad: Corson

“If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” “No,” said the priest, “not if you did not know.” “Then why,” asked the Eskimo earnestly, “did you tell me?”

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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