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We're Not The Most Sinful -- But Is That A Bad Thing?

Vegas Vic grins from his downtown perch.
Curtis Perry/Flickr

Vegas Vic grins from his downtown perch.

Today is Ash Wednesday, for Catholics a day of penitence and the beginning of a six-week period of reflection and doing without a little more than people are used to.

Perhaps no day is better to reflect on sin, especially the seven deadly sins: Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, vanity and pride.

And perhaps there’s no better place to reflect than in Las Vegas.

The thing is, Sin City might have a ring to it, and it’s a great marketing tool. But we might have a problem.

Las Vegas isn’t living up to the hype., a web-based home for buyers and sellers of real estate, issued a sin-based ranking of cities in America.

Las Vegas isn’t even in the top five. Overall, Las Vegas is 8th. For greed, the city ranked 3rd and for lust it ranked 2nd. 

Father Courtney Krier has a unique view of sin, however. His small church in downtown Las Vegas, whose sidewalks have for many years been home to drug peddlers, prostitutes and the homeless.

Lust, greed and gluttony are the sins he has seen most over his 23 years in Las Vegas.

"Most people when they come here they think they’re going to win the lottery or they’re going to win slot machines whatever it might be,” he said,  “Las Vegas has the name Sin City. So people come here with the idea that they’re going to commit sin”

He said these vices become crutches or addictions and become very hard to overcome.

Cultural critic Dayvid Figler, a Las Vegas lawyer and lifelong resident, defended the city's reputation for sin; it's partly what makes Las Vegas and Nevada unique. 

But he pointed out that the 'sins' that are allowed in Las Vegas are truly strictly controlled, which is what many of the tourists who walk into his office every week realize very quickly when they're charged with a crime here. 

Figler thinks the city should aim for a much higher ranking on the list.

“I think we should work harder to be the libertine city that makes Las Vegas unique," he said, "That puts us in a unique position in the universe. I think if anyone who lives here is offended by these things going on that it is fine to teach in their own home but to not necessarily impact the way the rest of the city works.”

He said it is a weird stance to have that one sin: greed in the form of gambling is okay and state sanctioned even, but other sins are forbidden. He argued that normalizing those so-called sins could benefit everyone.

As for Father Krier, he has a slightly different take.

“I think Las Vegas can be a place where people can come and enjoy, but I think also for myself that I would have to look at it from the perspective of human dignity,” he said.

He also pointed out that while the Las Vegas Strip may give the impression that: anything goes and when it does, it stays here - the reality for most people who live here is that it just like any other city in the country.  


Dayvid Figler, Lawyer, cultural critic;  Father Courtney Krier, St. Joseph's Catholic Church

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.