praise teamThe Gallup organization recently released its findings on religion in the U.S. that was conducted throughout 2012 and it found that Mississippi is the most religious state in the nation. This was measured by such things as how often people attended religious services. Mississippi is also now considering a bill that would allow students to pray in school without fear of any kind of retribution.  Additionally, the last abortion clinic in the state is believed to be on its way to closing, which will do away with murdering unborn children in the state. I believe the state is to be commended for these things.

But there is one huge downside to the state that seems to be holding its people back. Its educational system. Mississippi consistently ranks near or at the bottom of all other states when it comes to educating its children which results in a population that is not as knowledgeable as they should be academically. Can we and should we blame religion as the main culprit holding the state back?

Close up of a graduation cap and a certificate with a ribbonI’m sure there are plenty of people who would say religion, and specifically Christianity, is to blame for Mississippi’s academic condition, but I would have to disagree. Why? Well, when one looks at Biblical and secular history, the worship of the God of the Bible and the reading and practicing of his word are what have caused individuals and nations to advance to become prosperous.

We have plenty of examples of this in the Bible. Job served Jehovah with all his being, and was given great knowledge from God. That knowledge helped him become successful and wealthy. Job not only knew how the water cycle worked (Job 26:8), he knew the role bone marrow played in the skeletal system (Job 21:24) and about gravity holding up the earth (Job 26:7).

Then there’s King Solomon. He feared Jehovah and was given great wisdom. God taught him about the sciences, proper government, economics, mining, international trade, and many other things (1 Kings 10) and Solomon’s knowledge and wisdom helped ancient Israel to prosper.

King Uzziah also served the Lord and became king at 16. The knowledge from the Lord during his reign led to the digging of  many wells, a strong military, advances in agriculture, and engineering innovations (2 Chronicles 26: 1-15).

In more modern times, those who know true history can see how serving the Lord strengthened and advanced various European nations under certain monarchs, especially Great Britain. Then America experienced the same thing.

So if that’s the case, then what can we say of Mississippi? If God’s word says his commandments make us wiser than our enemies and more knowledgeable than our instructors (Psalm 119:97-100); if it tells us those with godly wisdom increase learning are strong spiritually and financially and that godly knowledge increases strength (Proverbs 1:5; 24:4-5), then how is it that Mississippi is behind in education and has among the highest poverty rates in the nation? Could it be that they worship the Lord with their mouths, but their hearts are far from him? I’m not saying I know the answer, especially since there are plenty of wealthy and well-educated people around who hate God. All I’m saying is that it makes me wonder.