A little bit of algebra is all it takes to compare mostly Catholic states (hereinafter called Catholic states) with mostly Protestant states (hereinafter called non-Catholic states) to predict how the Whites in that state should perform in SAT math based solely on the percentages of Catholics vs. non-Catholics in each state:

 Iowa RI NJ ND Mass Conn NY Utah Minn Catholic 17.1% 59.2% 41.1% 22.2% 42.7% 38.7% 37.6% 8.7% 21.5% Hispanic Catholic 2.0% 10.0% 12.0% 3.0% 6.0% 8.0% 14.0% 5.0% 2.0% White Catholic 15.1% 49.2% 29.1% 19.2% 36.7% 30.7% 23.6% 3.7% 19.5% Total White 76.0% 72.0% 59.0% 80.0% 73.0% 70.0% 55.0% 73.0% 78.0% Non-Catholic White 60.9% 22.8% 29.9% 60.8% 36.3% 39.3% 31.4% 69.3% 58.5% of Whites, Catholic 19.9% 68.3% 49.3% 24.0% 50.3% 43.9% 42.9% 5.1% 25.0% of Whites, non-Catholic 80.1% 31.7% 50.7% 76.0% 49.7% 56.1% 57.1% 94.9% 75.0% Iowa RI NJ ND Mass Conn NY Utah Minn SAT Math White Catholic 458 458 417 458 425 382 381 458 458 SAT Math White non-Catholic 650 650 650 658 650 650 659 568 663 Calculated SAT math 612 519 535 610 537 533 535 562 612 Whites actual SAT math 612 519 535 610 537 533 535 562 612 Whites actual SAT verbal 613 516 518 607 529 529 520 571 607

If it were just between Iowa and Rhode Island, the highest scoring state and which is mostly non-Catholic, vs. one of the the lowest scoring states and which is mostly Catholics, the formula would be simple.  After removing Hispanic Catholics from the White Catholic population, we would expect Catholic Whites to score 458 and non-Catholic Whites to score 650, a difference of 182 points or 1.96 S.D.

But this perfect fit is not perfect in every state.  When we calculate what North Dakota’s score ought to be based on these figures, we find that it is six points lower than their actual score. If we increase the score for non-Catholic Whites by 8 points to 658, it becomes a perfect match. Minnesota’s calculated score is also too low, by 10 points.  If we increase their estimated score for non-Catholic Whites to 663, we again have a perfect match.

This indicates that it’s fairly conservative to estimate the SAT Math score for non-Catholic Whites to be 650 in other states since so many other non-Catholic states follow a similar pattern.  Other Catholic states require a serious reduction in this estimate in order to match their actual score.  Would we expect non-Catholic Whites in those Catholic states to score significantly lower than their brethren in the non-Catholic states?   Probably not, but then how do we explain New Jersey’s remarkably low actual score, which is 21 points lower than their predicted score when using these estimates for Rhode Island and Iowa?  To match New Jersey’s actual score of 535, the score for Catholic Whites need to be adjusted downward 41 points to 417. Similarly, New York’s predicted score is 33 points too high.  But to obtain a perfect fit would requirea huge 77 point reduction in  the score for Catholic Whites to only 381, a religious gap of 269 or 2.7 S.D. Connecticut is also 33 points too high, requiring Catholic Whites’ scores to be reduced 76 points to only 382, for a religious gap of 2.7 S.D.  Ditto for Massachusetts, whose calculated score is 17 points too high and requires a 33 point downward adjustment for Catholics to only 425, producing a religious gap of 2.3 S.D.

Ironically, this 192 to 269 point gap in SAT Math scores of Catholic versus non-Catholic states parallels the 152 TIMSS math point  gap between scores of Catholic and non-Catholic countries.

The one notable exception to the rule is mostly Mormon Utah, whose predicted score is 91 points too low, requiring a downward adjustment for non-Catholic Whites from 650 to 568.  Could this religious gap be caused by the same factor which causes the religious gap in Catholic states?  Is the intellectual contest between rigid religious beliefs and the Protestant concept of free will?