One in Five Americans Stricken With Crippling Mental Illness

Well, it’s a crippling mental illness if you’re a religious authority. Otherwise, it’s Freedom.

Nones Climb to 19 Percent

America’s “Nones” — the nonreligious — are at an all-time high, now comprising nearly one in five Americans (19%), according to a new study by the Pew Center for the People and the Press. The 19% count is based on aggregated surveys of 19,377 people conducted by the Pew Research Center throughout 2011 and reported by USA Today.

Why? It may be the Internet. It may just be some sort of fluke of the historic moment. But it’s also – and perhaps mostly – for this reason: Some of us are working at it.

“This means great news for progress, for reasoned debate, for the status of nonbelievers in our nation,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “The freethought movement and FFRF are growing rapidly. There is an explosion of local and campus freethought groups, activities and conferences.”

This is the moment to bask in that realization: We’re making a difference. We’re convincing people. They’re leaving religion — becoming US. This is not just some simple linear increase, either — the movement is snowballing.

But it’s also a moment to carpe diem in a political and economic sense.

Freethinkers have been highly marginalized, in part for being perceived as making up a small segment of the U.S. population. Actually, there have always been many more nonreligious than Jews, Muslims, Mormons or Eastern religions’ adherents, currently respectively at 1.2%, 0.6%, 1.4% and 0.9% of the U.S. population, according to ARIS. “Most minority religions, however tiny in numbers, are treated with respect, inclusion and sometimes deference. It’s time public officials and the American public wake up to the changing demographics and stop treating atheists and agnostics as outsiders,” added Annie Laurie Gaylor, who co-directs FFRF with Barker.

Hold onto that vision of a world without religion and churches in the driver’s seat. This is the first moment in history when that world was visibly within reach.

How can you help? Join in. Come out (even if it’s only online). Talk to people. Volunteer. Put a little time and money into secular causes and organizations, in whatever way you can. You might also want to support the Secular Student Alliance, which FtB’s Blag Hag (Jen McCreight) refers to as A Juggernaut of Secular Awesome.

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  • anubisprime

    The tide turns methinks…..

    As an extra sections of the UK 2011 census report is due for release in Nov 2012.

    It has been seen by many commentators as a definitive verdict on the state of religious belief in Blighty.

    As a taster after the census was taken in 2011 a follow up poll was commissioned to try and gauge the flavor of the likely response in the census.
    The result was actually revealed on an ostensibly xian website…

    The link on the page goes to a PDF download…well worth a read…for the theists it is devastating news I would imagine.

    But the real proof of the pudding will be when the official stats are released in November…it really does not look brilliant for the jeebus legions!

    It is highly possible that it will cause somewhat of a kafuffle in certain quarters…I am alluding to the House of Lords in Parliament where 26 bishops pontificate and regularly block legislation on teh ghey and abortion/euthanasia rights by justifying their presence as being a Christian country requiring Christian leadership in politics….in fact it really appears Christian ‘belief’ is hemorrhaging to death and beyond and there is no tourniquet in sight.
    Those 26 bishops are in a whole heap of dung methinks.

  • Lady Godfrey

    An aspect of this issue I have not seen mentioned is my situation – I was raised godless, and I have three children, two of whom are adults now, and they are all out atheists.

    (I don’t know how to count my (soon-to-be ex) husband who was raised christian, was agnostic/atheist when we met and raised our kids but became a glassy-eyed fundy after he met the skank he left me for.)

    I would be interested to know the numbers for second and third generation atheists, and what percentage of their kids are Nones.

    • christinemoore

      You’d think if he became a “fundy” he would be all about saving the marriage. What a dick, i’m sorry to hear about it.

  • Ryan

    I want to make this very clear, these nones are not necessarily people who don’t believe in God. They are a broad range of people who reject labeling themselves in formal religious terms, even if they have religious beliefs. The total percent of people not believing in a God is about 5%, comprised mostly of none’s, Buddhists, and jews. Of the nones the study reports that 70% of them believe in God. ~50% of the them are certain to fairly certain there is a God. What is probably the most important number to consider with respect to the nones is the degree to which they treat ‘holy books’ as being manmade. 64% of them do, making it the second highest number after Buddhists and distinctly higher then other religions. The rates of believing religion to be compatible with modern society are also in step with formal religious believers.

    so this sense that atheists and agnostics are becoming nearly 20% of the US population is just wrong. The actual rate is about 5%, the self-identified rate of atheists and agnostics is ever lower. Formal religion and holy books are losing power, but faith in a supernatural god is not. At least, not at the same rate.

    • F

      so this sense that atheists and agnostics are becoming nearly 20% of the US population is just wrong.

      And it’s a good thing that no one either said or implied that, then.

  • Randomfactor

    Those “there may be a god” nones are essentially deists. Thomas Jefferson was one–I think, largely, because Charles Darwin’s birth lay in the future.

    It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg if my neighbor thinks there may be some divine force behind the Big Bang–as long as he and his family don’t queue up on Sunday to hear who (wink wink) they shouldn’t consider voting for in November (you know who I mean.)

    “True” atheists may be a small portion of the nones–but the nones make better neighbors for us. And we, too, are growing.

  • im

    The nones are important.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Certain bishops have a plan to bring the nones under control.

    • F

      You mean the noon (to three o’clock) prayer? :p

  • christinemoore

    The “nones” may be on the rise in America, but it’s still hard to be an American Atheist. I’ve personally lost friends and family because of my non-belief, not because I didn’t want be in their lives, but because they didn’t want me in theirs, and they didn’t want us “influencing” their children.

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