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5 Least Sinful Cities in America

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- St. Louis, San Francisco and lots of other U.S. cities get their names from saints, but recent research finds that only a select few communities really live up to saintly standards.

"These 'saintly' cities might have residents who are more genuine, more altruistic and generally nicer," says Randy Nelson of property-listing site Movoto.com, which analyzed dozens of U.S. communities to name America's Most Saintly Cities.

To gauge saintly behavior, Movoto studied 95 of the nation's 100 most-populous cities (the site couldn't get complete data for the other five) to see how often locals commit the Catholic Church's Seven Deadly Sins.

Codified by Pope Gregory I in 590, the Seven Deadly Sins include envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath.

Movoto estimated the prevalence of each transgression in different communities by using modern measures to assess the sixth-century list. For instance, Movoto gauged lust by looking at how many strip clubs a given city has, using Yelp.com listings as a guide.

Based on its findings, Movoto recently chose both America's Most Sinful Cities and its most saintly ones.

The site quantified saintliness by analyzing how well different communities follow a list of good behaviors that roughly parallels the church's Seven Heavenly Virtues -- the opposite of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Movoto measured the virtues of:

  • Charity. Charity involves giving stuff away instead of taking it -- the antithesis of envy, where you covet something that someone else owns. Movoto measured charity by looking at cities with low FBI property-crime rates.
  • Chastity. The study gauged chastity (the opposite of lust) by ranking communities for low levels of strip clubs within city limits.
  • Diligence. Diligence is the flipside of sloth. Movoto measured this virtue by looking at U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates of each city's inactivity rate, the percent of the local population that's not physically active. The lower the inactivity rate, the higher a city's diligence ranking.
  • Generosity. Movoto calculated generosity (the antithesis of greed) by using Philanthropy.com figures of how much the average resident in each locale donates to charity in a given year. The higher the percentage of disposable income contributed, the greater a city's generosity.
  • Humility. The study quantified humility -- the opposite of pride -- by looking at each city's ratio of plastic surgeons to residents, based on Yelp.com listings. The lower the ratio, the higher the community's humility.
  • Kindness. Kindness is virtue's answer to wrath. Movoto measured kindness by focusing on cities with low FBI violent-crime rates.
  • Temperance. Movoto assessed temperance (the opposite of gluttony) by looking for communities with low CDC obesity rates.

If you want to move to a city where virtue beats vice, click below to check out the five communities that top Movoto's Most Saintly Cities list.

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