Started by PickelledEggs, August 28, 2014, 01:46:39 PM
QuoteDemographicsA 2007 Barna group poll found that about 20 million people say they are atheist, have no religious faith, or are agnostic, with 5 million of that number claiming to be atheists. The study also found that "[t]hey tend to be more educated, more affluent and more likely to be male and unmarried than those with active faith" and that "only 6 percent of people over 60 have no faith in God, and one in four adults ages 18 to 22 describe themselves as having no faith."A 2008 Gallup survey reported that religion is not an important part of daily life for 34% of Americans. In May of that year, a Gallup poll asking the question "Which of the following statements comes closest to your belief about God: you believe in God, you don't believe in God but you do believe in a universal spirit or higher power, or you don't believe in either?" showed that, nationally, 78% believed in God, 15% in "a universal spirit or higher power", 6% answering "neither", and 1% unsure. The poll also highlighted the regional differences, with residents in the Western states answering 59%, 29%, and 10% respectively, compared to the residents in the Southern states that answered 86%, 10%, and 3%. Several of the western states have been informally nicknamed Unchurched Belt, contrasting with the Bible Belt in the southern states.A 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reported that 33% of Americans thought of themselves as not religious, including 18% "spiritual but not religious" and 15% "neither spiritual nor religious".Inaccuracy of religious self-identificationThe 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) found a difference between how people identify and what people believe. While only 0.7% of U.S. adults identified as atheist, 2.3% said there is no such thing as a god. Only 0.9% identified as agnostic, but 10.0% said there is either no way to know if a god exists or they weren't sure. Another 12.1% said there is a higher power but no personal god. In total, only 15.0% identified as Nones or No Religion, but 24.4% did not believe in the traditional concept of a personal god. The conductors of the study concluded, "The historic reluctance of Americans to self-identify in this manner or use these terms seems to have diminished. Nevertheless ... the level of under-reporting of these theological labels is still significant ... many millions do not subscribe fully to the theology of the groups with which they identify."Similarly, the 2012 Pew study reported that 23% of Americans who affiliated with a religion were not religious. The affiliated were 79% of the population, and the unaffiliated were 19.6%, including 6% "atheist" or "agnostic".GrowthIn a 2006 Point of Inquiry podcast, author Tom Flynn stated, "Over a period from the late 1980's to the dawn of the 21st century, a number of polls using a number of different methodologies had continued to show a steady rise, an approximate doubling in the number of people who did not claim traditional religious affiliation."The 2008 ARIS study found that the relative growth of nones (138% since 1990) was surpassed only by the growth of Non-denominational Christians (4,040%), Born-again Evangelicals (295%), followers of Eastern Religions (185%), and Muslims (156%). But the absolute growth of nones (19.8 million) exceeded the other four combined (11.5 million).The 2012 Pew study said, "The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public â€" and a third of adults under 30 â€" are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling." Some of the religiously unaffiliated are spiritual or religious in some way; 30% believe with absolute certainty in a "God or universal spirit", 38% believe with less certainty. 21% pray every day. Only 12% are atheist, and 17% are agnostic.Several groups promoting no religious faith or opposing religious faith altogether â€" including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, Camp Quest, and the Rational Response Squad â€" have witnessed large increases in membership numbers in recent years, and the number of secularist student organizations at American colleges and universities increased during the 2000s (decade).TablesThe percentage of people in North America who identify with a religion as opposed to having "no religion" (2001 US) (1991,98,99 CA).The contiguous U.S. states, Washington D.C. and territories ranked by percentage of population claiming no religion in 2008 is as follows:Rank Jurisdiction % "Nones"- United States 15%01 Vermont 34%02 New Hampshire 29%03 Wyoming 28%04 Alaska 27%05 Maine 25%06 Washington 25%07 Nevada 24%08 Oregon 24%09 Delaware 23%10 Idaho 23%11 Massachusetts 22%12 Colorado 21%13 Montana 21%14 Rhode Island 19%15 California 18%16 Hawaii 18%17 Washington D.C. 18%18 Arizona 17%19 Nebraska 17%20 Ohio 17%21 Michigan 16%22 New Mexico 16%23 Indiana 15%24 Iowa 15%25 New Jersey 15%26 Pennsylvania 15%27 Virginia 15%28 West Virginia 15%29 Wisconsin 15%30 Connecticut 14%31 Florida 14%32 Missouri 14%33 New York 14%34 Utah 14%35 Illinois 13%36 Kentucky 13%37 Minnesota 12%38 South Dakota 12%39 Texas 12%40 Alabama 11%41 Kansas 11%42 Maryland 11%43 Oklahoma 11%44 North Carolina 10%45 South Carolina 10%46 Georgia 9%47 Tennessee 9%48 Arkansas 8%49 Louisiana 8%50 North Dakota 7%51 American Samoa 5%52 Mississippi 5%53 U.S. Virgin Islands 4%54 Guam 2.5%55 Puerto Rico 2%56 Northern Mariana Islands 1%Demographics of the religiously unaffiliated in 2012.Race % UnaffiliatedWhite 20%Hispanic 16%Black 15%Gender % UnaffiliatedMen 23%Women 17%Generation % UnaffiliatedYounger Millennials 34%Older Millennials 30%GenXers 21%Boomers 15%Silent 9%Greatest 5%Studies on irreligionA comprehensive study by David Campbell and Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious Americans are three to four times more likely than their nonreligious counterparts to "work on community projects, belong to voluntary associations, attend public meetings, vote in local elections, attend protest demonstrations and political rallies, and donate time and money to causes -- including secular ones." However, religious Americans who regularly attend religious services but have no friends there do not have higher levels of civic participation, while nonreligious Americans who have religious friends do get more involved. "It's not faith" that accounts for civic activism, Putnam said, "It's faith communities." The authors said the same effect might be found in secular organizations that are close-knit with shared morals and values.The study also found that religious Americans are less tolerant than secular Americans of free speech, dissent, and several other measures of tolerance.Being less religious is moderately correlated with increased life expectancy and decreased teenage pregnancy.Alan Cooperman of Pew Research Center notes that nonreligious Americans commonly grew up in a religious tradition and consciously lost it "after a great deal of reflection and study". As a result, atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable about religion than those who identify with most major religions, according to a 2010 Pew survey.The American public at large has a positive view of nonreligious people but a negative view of atheists. One "extensive study of how Americans view various minority groups", found that "atheists are at the top of the list of groups that Americans find problematic." A Religion and Public Life Survey (2002) found that 54 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of atheists, but the favorability of people who are "not religious" is 52.2%, with a net difference of 23.8%.Irreligion in politicsAccording to exit polls in the 2008 presidential election, 71% of non-religious whites voted for Democratic candidate Barack Obama while 74% of white Evangelical Christians voted for Republican candidate John McCain. This can be compared with the 43â€"55% share of white votes overall. More than six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%). They are about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives, and solid majorities support legal abortion (72%) and same-sex marriage (73%). In the last five years, the unaffiliated have risen from 17% to 24% of all registered voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic. According to a Pew Research exit poll 70% of those who were religiously unaffiliated voted for Barack Obama.In January 2007, California Congressman Pete Stark became the first openly atheist member of Congress. He described himself as "a Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being." In January 2013, Kyrsten Sinema became the first openly non-theist Congresswoman, representing the State of Arizona. Although she "believes the terms â€˜nontheist,â€™ â€˜atheistâ€™ or â€˜nonbelieverâ€™ are not befitting of her lifeâ€™s work or personal character," she does believe in a secular approach to government. Her unbelief "was not used to slander her as un-American or suggest that she was unfit for office."On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama became the first United States President to acknowledge "non-believers" in his inaugural address, although other presidents such as George W. Bush have previously acknowledged non-believers in different speeches.The 2012 Pew study reported that unaffiliated Americans say by a margin of 39% that churches should keep out of political matters. Affiliated Americans agree by a margin of 7%.
Quote from: SGOS on August 30, 2014, 05:34:50 PMI was raised Lutheran and only exposed to other Christians, perhaps mostly Catholics and a few other protestant sects. There was so much dissimilarity between beliefs of the various Christian sects and my own, that like the Muslim surrounded by Christians who goes atheist, the same dynamic was at work for me. Everyone claimed to be right in a sea of mutually exclusive beliefs. I pondered this some, and sort of came up with the understanding that no one really could know which religion was right, and through some principle of logic which I never heard defined until years later, I realized that at best, the majority had to be wrong. And it seemed quite possible that everyone was wrong.I looked into finding the right religion, but realized along the way, there could be no logical way this could be done. That's only a few steps away to admitting that none of the various religions make viable sense. Then explore the major religions opposed to Christianity, like Islam, Hindu, and Tao, and you're only one step away from throwing the whole thing out. The only logical thing left that makes sense is that they are all irrelevant, and none deserve a commitment of my time.