Down With Education!

Every so often, Pew surveys the American electorate on their views of important public institutions. This year's survey found that despite being in power, Republicans are a grumpy bunch. The only major national institution that they feel positively about is churches. That's not a surprise. However, this might be:While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans … [Read more...]

Are Atheists Smarter than Theists?

Are atheists, on average, smarter than everyone else?It sounds unbearably smug and condescending even to ask the question this way. But whatever one's feelings about the matter, there's some evidence suggesting that this may be the case.Belief in God correlates inversely with education level, as surveys have long shown. From high school to college to grad school, as you move up the rungs of educational attainment, people are more likely to be atheists, less likely to pray, less likely … [Read more...]

More Atheists, Fewer Creationists

Whatever the short-term fluctuations of politics, the long-term trends driving the evolution of American society are stable. And one of the most consistent trends in America since I started writing this blog has been the steady growth in the number of self-identified atheists and agnostics. It's a cheering thought that gives me hope for future generations discarding the harmful dogmas of the past.But even these optimistic estimates may have been an undercount, if a new study is to be … [Read more...]

Evangelicals Cement Their Bigotry

The new administration's Muslim travel ban has inspired vehement protests across America. Even if the courts uphold it, which seems unlikely, the fear and dismay it's caused in immigrants throughout the land will have a lasting effect. In a black irony, its most salient effect may be to chase away skilled workers of all types - including immigrant doctors from Muslim countries who work in the underserved regions of Appalachia and the Rust Belt. (Once again, you get what you vote for.)The … [Read more...]

The Moral Ruin of Evangelicalism

According to exit polls, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. It's safe to say that most of them are happy with the outcome. But there's one question they may not have considered: What price did they pay for this victory?An article by Robert P. Jones, head of the Public Religion Research Institute, gives us the answer. They won the election, and all it cost them was their convictions:In 2011 and again just ahead of the election, PRRI asked Americans … [Read more...]

Repost: The Coming Secular Era

[I'm working on a new talk and another big project I hope to announce soon. Blogging may be intermittent for the next few days. In the meantime, enjoy this classic post.]The most important changes don't come in the form of attention-grabbing headlines, but subtle trends that quietly gather momentum until, by the time they finally burst into public view, they're unstoppable. Such is the case with the most important, and paradoxically most underappreciated, trend in American religion today: … [Read more...]

Does Religious Diversity Undermine Religion?

There's bound to be more than one reason why religion is on the decline. I've written about the spread of the internet and about churches obstinately clinging to bigotry that turns off younger generations. Now, from FiveThirtyEight, there's another answer: it's because of increasing religious diversity.The practical effect of rising religious diversity is to expose Americans to ideas and views that could challenge their religious beliefs. A recent survey found that 77 percent of Americans … [Read more...]

The Collapse of the Christian Vote

Earlier this month, I wrote about the rise of the atheist voting bloc and what it means for the future of American politics. Here's a perspective on that same trend from the other side: Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, has a new book out titled "The End of White Christian America".As Jones says in an interview, the decline of Christianity in America is generational. Young adults are rejecting organized religion at startling rates, resulting in the collapse of … [Read more...]

Rise of the Atheist Voting Bloc

I missed this story when it came out last month, but it deserves attention:More American voters than ever say they are not religious, making the religiously unaffiliated the nation's biggest voting bloc by faith for the first time in a presidential election year. This marks a dramatic shift from just eight years ago, when the non-religious were roundly outnumbered by Catholics, white mainline Protestants and white evangelical Protestants.You read that right. If you took all the … [Read more...]

New on the Guardian: Should the Democrats Pander to Atheists?

For all their lip service to diversity and inclusion, the Democrats snubbed atheists at their convention and in their official party platform this election year. The convention was all God all the time, with not a word of acknowledgement for the increasingly important non-religious part of their voting base.Is there any hope for this partnership? I argue that there is, and that atheists' votes and political organizing has had a profound effect on the Democrats, even if their rhetoric hasn't … [Read more...]