Irreligious heathens are growing apace, with one-fifth of all American adults now claiming no religious affiliation at all. The same is true of one third of under-30s. That's the highest proportion of non-religious types ever polled.
Since 2007, the number of Americans claiming no religion has shot up from 15% to 20%, and includes 13 million atheists and agnostics, and 33 million who simply say they have no religion at all.
However, of those, 37% claim to be "spiritual" and 68% believe in an unspecified deity, and most of the non-religious have a positive view of churches and other religious groups as beneficial to society.
As the unreligious sector has grown, Protestant numbers have dropped from 53% five years ago to 48% today. As Pew remarks, it's the first time Protestants have fallen below the halfway mark within the US population.
@ColKlink You mean the immigrants you enslaved, forced to work in gold mines (chopping their hands up) then eventually committing cultural genocide by COMPLETELY DESTROYING THEIR ORIGINAL CULTURE, then forcing them into ghettos and purposefully giving them less money and rights so that they stay poor and stupid.
You really think they voluntarily chose religion. LMFAO!
I guess if one believes moral behavior requires a religion to inform it this might be cause for concern. But after a decade that saw pedophile priests and Ted Haggard it's hard to see how that might be.
No one needs religion to be "moral" but without a objective foundation morality is just an illusion.... an evolved adaptation to aid in the survival of a social species. The murderer isn't "evil." He is just going against the herd survivability.
"The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
Some homosexuals and pedophiles saw priesthood as an easy path to a steady supply of prey. Yet the same folks who are 'outraged' at homosexual priests wail the loudest when the Boy Scouts want to keep homosexuals out of leadership positions.
I did some work with prisoners teaching them how to do drywall and paint. Most of them claim to be Christian. Very few are openly gay. Maybe there is a correlation there. Maybe Christians are the root of the crime problem. Or maybe religion is irrelevant.
@Cheenoguy There is no denying that America's collective morals have been in a steady decline. This decline has accelerated in recent years, but the trend has been obvious for quite some time.
Religion at its core is centered around human decency (an exception may be Muslim, which calls for believers to kill the non, but that's a subject for another thread). That said, it follows that as we as a nation turn our back of religion and its basic tenets, a decline in moral behavior will follow.
I don't need to go to a building full of hypocrites blindly believing in something that scares them with hellfire and damnation if they're not good. You're either a good person or you're not. It's like when parents tell kids "the boogeyman is gonna get you if you're not good", or "Santa claus is watching so you'd better be good"; except it's for adults. "Jesus won't love you if you're bad"....."you will go to hell if you have impure thoughts/are mean to people/say a bad word/live someone of the same sex/kick the dog". Religion is a scare tactic.
Really? So God had no problem when Bush was President and the fact that his decisions caused the death of tens of thousands? It's stupid comments like yours that are causing more people to question religion and so I say keep talking as you're doing more damage than atheists ever could. THANK YOU!
I'm with you, Zoe. With money influencing every vote in Washington, why would God bless it? With the US conquering, dominating and attempting to influence the leadership of countries in the middle east, why would God bless it? With all the hatred between conservatives and liberals, why would God bless it? And with all the inter-religious hatred between Christians and Muslims, why would God bless it? You would have Obama responsible for all that's wrong with the US. That's a pretty short-sighted view. The US took a long time (and a lot of Republican as well as Democratic politicians) to get this f*cked up. Obama's just your fall guy. Just as Romney would become the liberals' fall guy if he were to become president. Which isn't likely.
@jamayla I'm assuming you're joking.(???) I wonder which shrewd politician thought he'd gain approval by putting that slogan on there? I'm thinking it's high time the US replace that with a slogan more aligned with what seem to be US values around money. A few suggestions: In Greed we Trust. In Corporations we Trust. In Politicians we do not Trust. In Foreign Aid we Trust that You Will Do Things Our Way.... else In Defense Budget we Trust that You'll See The Light
In our country, yes I said OUR, anyone can believe or not believe in any deity or religion. The problems arise when any believer or non-believer tries to prevent another from worshiping, or not worshiping, as they believe they should. The big argument today is about our nation and how this freedom of religious expression is handled. IMHO...having the Ten Commandments written on a courthouse wall is not an affront to anyone....and is not meant to be. However, if someone is standing on the courthouse steps handing out copies of the Ten Commandments or reading them aloud is an invasion into the right of anyone who does not want it. IMHO...a Cross on a hill or in front of a church does no harm to anyone. However, if a judge puts a Cross on prominient display where it must be looked at continuously during a court proceeding, that may be considered to be an affront to some. All of a sudden the traditions and culture of our nation is being attacked on the premise that it is unfair to a minority segment of our nation.
Gee, this is a no brainer for Christians. We know that things will get rougher and rougher. The idea that heathens (atheists and their ilk) will flourish is right on! Bring it on -- as I am sure that evil will be exerting it last big push. The whole idea behind the Holy Bible is that people bang their heads against each other in such effort that nothing makes sense anymore. Then what happens?
Take it from someone who used to be super religious, with a good heart and not nearly as judgemental as I could have been, when I became an agnostic I am certain that my "morality" has improved, but what I consider to be of moral importance has changed. I still beleive in following the agreed upon laws of the land and basic human rights, but I have dropped all the nit-picky stuff that evolved out of man's fear of anything or anyone outside the accepted 'norm". Homosexuality and sex outside of marriage and other things that are no one's business but our own are no longer issues to me, no longer worth making a big deal out of. I don't sweat the small stuff any more. I think it is healthier and gives people the freedom to explore who they are and make decisions based on logic and not fear and judgement.
This is really good news, and speaks volumes about the direction of our country. People are becoming critical thinkers, rather than being guided or controlled by institutions - in this case, organized religion. That quality - critical thinking - has been missing in the US, and has led to the current situation: a government run by corporate influence; 1% earning more money than the bottom 40%; a budget deficit that will take generations (if ever) to pay off; and so on. As the rest of the world evolves, religious institutions cling relentlessly to the ancient past... and tend to support ideals and causes totally out of integrity with the teachings of Jesus (the hosanna of most organized religion in the US). And when religions start promoting one political party over another because that party is more in line with their so-called "ideals", it's time to take away their tax exempt status. How will critical thinkers NOT abandon institutions that promote ideals that are at odds with what they can feel as Truth with a capital T - which anyone can feel if they take time away from complaining about the world, to go inside with solitary prayer or meditation. The so-called "news" about this trend isn't that the US is becoming a nation of heathens, as most mainstream media are interpreting it (as well as religions and conservative politicians). It's that critical thinking - thinking for oneself instead of being told what to think - is expanding. Atheism and agnosticism may well be a part of first-stage "religious recovery" for many. But more will adopt spiritual beliefs that include a higher power of some form.. because they feel the presence of that higher power in their lives. And when they learn to feel that presence, they will have tapped into a source of inner moral discernment that rejects institutional dogma - be it religious, or political, or corporate.
Yes, I am concerned...but it is their right to believe or not to believe in God. My father was atheist and never felt the need to shout it from the roof tops and wave a banner telling the world. If people are atheist, that is their business, I have believed in God since I can remember, I don't shove it down peoples throats or carry banners, I think much of it is just attention seeking behavior.
@mimi57 No. Agnostic is basically being on the fence of God's existence. Atheist believes God doesn't exist. Having no religion is not belonging to any organized religion (Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc, etc)
I'm pleased the number is growing and concerned that it isn't higher. An institution that praises intolerance and prohibits thinking for oneself stands in the way of the advancement of the entire human race. Just consider how much more advanced we could be as a species if religion hadn't been there throughout history to combat progression. Medicine alone has been thwarted virtually every step of the way by religious zealots attempting to stop people from "playing god". Imagine how much sooner we could have understood the anatomy of the human body if people had praised autopsies as the brilliant way to understand how we work instead of attacked as evil and heathenish. How much sooner might we have understood the way the universe works had the church not met seekers of knowledge with threats of torture and death. Religion is a holdover from a time we thought the earth was flat and the center of the universe. Even today fanatics are still hard at work to stand in the way of science. Consider how much we could have advanced medicine just in the last couple of decades if stem cell research had been greeted with open arms instead of blind hatred for daring to "attempting to elevate ourselves to godhood". Think of how liberty has suffered because of religious people impose morality on the rest of us. Think of how many fewer people would be dying of disease if moral dictators didn't oppose regulating "the oldest profession". How many fewer people would be wasting away in prisons if others hadn't determined that they should be punished for living an alternative lifestyle? For every good thing religion can claim it does or has done, which are few, there are a dozen bad things. Nothing in the history of humankind as been as detrimental to the human race as religion and I'd be willing to bet nothing ever will be.
@Libertatem I agree that unchecked experimentation would have catastrophic consequences, but I disagree that that's the world I'm describing. I'm describing a world wherein bioethics exclusively plays a role in research and law. I'm not encouraging unregulated experimentation. I'm discouraging basing regulation on religious principles which approach morality and ethics from a standpoint of superstition rather than evidence.
@CitizenToker Thank you for clarifying. I would say that bioethics is a complex philosophy. Acceptable or unacceptible behavior is open to critique from all of us. We, including the religious of our country, all should be heard in the forming of these laws. In other words, we should all be represented.
@Libertatem I completely agree that everyone should be heard and represented but in the end we should base our laws and regulations on fact and evidence. Take autopsies for example. Fact, the person is dead and there is no evidence to support any claim that any harm is being done in opening up the body to get a better understanding of the human anatomy. Whereas the religious people of the time were outraged because they considered it an affront to god (likely as desecration of his temple, though memory doesn't serve well enough for me to say that with absolute certainty). So they would have denied us knowledge that ultimately served us greatly based on superstition and unsubstantiated theory. Surgery is another example. When we first began opening up the living to attempt to repair damage and extend life parts of the religious sector were up in arms and would have punished people for it, yet now it's among the most significant lifesaving procedures we have in our medical arsenal. And finally, stem cell research is another example. Based on the claims this is knowledge that could revolutionize the medical field, but the religious would have us forsake that leap for the sake of protecting unborn children that are being aborted anyway. Of course I think their concerns should be heard, but when all is said and done I think logic and reason should dictate how we progress rather than unsubstantiated theory and religious fanaticism.
@CitizenToker I agree with most of what you've said here but when you say
"but the religious would have us forsake that leap for the sake of protecting unborn children that are being aborted anyway."
I think this type of reasoning leads to a destructive cycle. For example a profitable & legal market for human organs gives incentive to organ theives.
Sometimes the greater good ends up not being the greater good. Another example might be a woman who goes in for an abortion and is paid a substantial sum to grow the fetus to full-term for organ harvesting to save another child's life. It was going to be destroyed anyway. This might seem okay to some people but to others a gut feeling tells them it is not ethical despite evidence presented to them.
I'm not concerned at all. If someone needs belief in a higher power to make sense of their life, that's fine, just realize that some of us don't. The REAL problem here isn't less people being part of a religious organization, it's whether people will tolerate others beliefs. If I don't stand in your way to go to church, don't stand in mine to not......
We should be aware that there is a difference between philosophical theism and religion. Most people tend not to define the word GOD before jumping into a presumption of existence. I would say that religion is the attempt to interpret & implement GOD'S will for us although some might disagree.
The question here is really the fear that John Locke expressed:
“those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all; besides also, those that by their atheism undermine and destroy all religion, can have no pretence of religion whereupon to challenge the privilege of a toleration”(Locke, Toleration, 20)
I personally believe in toleration for everyone who lives within the law so please don't think these are my own fears but it does beg the question.
He assumed that those who deny the existence of an ideal observer or afterlife would not have sufficient reason to adhere to the moral code required for a free people to self govern.
So this is a question about ethics & what we humans who step out of the jungle and into civilized society need in order to behave.
As one of our founding fathers said, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." Ben Franklin - April 17, 1787
As an atheist, I am perfectly capable of recognizing the need for social structure. I am also free to decide if those structures are actually useful or just remnants of a less sophisticated mindset. If they are driven by religious concerns, they need to be done away with; this is not a theocracy. People are perfectly free to say, "My god does not want same-sex marriage; therefore, I will not enter into one." However, it is not okay to interject your god's tenets into the laws we ALL must follow.