Hold and Build

Although there's been plenty of good news for atheists in recent weeks, stories that showcase our growing influence and assertiveness, this is no time for us to become complacent. We still have significant work to do to shore up the foundations of our movement, as this Times op-ed by Charles M. Blow explains:...a study entitled "Faith in Flux" issued this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life questioned nearly 3,000 people and found that most children raised unaffiliated with a … [Read more...]

The 2008 ARIS: Atheist State of the Nation

As you've surely heard by now, the landmark 2008 American Religious Identification Survey has just been released. The ARIS is an enormous study that questioned over 50,000 respondents to assemble a broad picture of religious belief and disbelief in the United States, building on previous surveys from 1990 and 2001.The 2001 results showed that nonbelievers had made incredible gains, rising from 8% to just over 14% of the U.S. population in just ten years - a genuine demographic boom. The new … [Read more...]

The Decline of the Catholic Church

In this past August's post "On Desecration", concerning the infamous PZ Myers wafer affair, I mocked the ignorance of a group calling itself the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy:We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional.At the time, I didn't think this was anything other than the raving of a few right-wing Catholic wackaloons, even if they were priests. But I may have to change that assessment. To judge by … [Read more...]

The Fading of the Church

The growth of atheism is coming at the expense of religion. As freethought makes gains in society, it will inevitably start by appealing to those who are religious only by default - the people who go to church because they've never known an alternative, those who are receptive to our message and easily persuaded. And as their members join us or simply drift away, the larger, established churches are bound to begin feeling the sting of declining membership. There are encouraging signs that this … [Read more...]

A Riotous Diversity

Much head-scratching has been occasioned by the Pew Forum's latest report from its U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which found, among other things, that 21% of atheists claim to believe in some sort of god. I've linked to a press release from the Secular Coalition for America on this finding, and I'd like to add some comments of my own.To explain this, one could make a sarcastic quip that 21% of atheists either didn't hear the pollster correctly or else need to consult a dictionary for the … [Read more...]

Two Poles

While reading Richard Sloan's book Blind Faith, I came across a passage that jumped out at me:[Gallup Polling] also indicates that from 1939 to 2005, 37 to 49 percent of those surveyed reported that they attended church or synagogue in the week before they were surveyed. From the period to 1992 to 2005, those who reported that they attended once per week ranged from 28 to 36 percent. For those reporting attendance almost every week, the range was 9 to 14 percent.What I noticed is that the … [Read more...]

Atheists at 75%?

Not in the general population, alas. But a poll in a recent front-page post at Daily Kos, Hobbits 2.0?, had some stunning numbers:The poll was about which viewpoint best fits the site contributors' positions on human evolution, with four options corresponding to young-earth creationism, old-earth creationism, theistic evolution, and non-theistic evolution (i.e., no god involved). Not surprisingly for a progressive political site, the two creationist options received negligible support. But … [Read more...]

Expanding the Secular Community

In a world of hostile religious believers, a lone atheist is a target. Vjack of the always superb Atheist Revolution provides a chilling example, an atheist family in rural Pennsylvania who incurred severe harassment and reprisal from their believing neighbors after they complained about blatant religious indoctrination in the local public school, culminating with them being driven out of town.But there's an important lesson to be learned from this sad story: if an isolated atheist is a target … [Read more...]

A Change in the Wind

Via Orcinus, a truly incredible story about the latest survey to come out of the Barna Group, whose title is "A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity".Over the last decade or so, the religious right has exercised virtually untrammeled power in America. They've commanded the allegiance of a majority of the population and have enjoyed tremendous influence and near-unchallenged power in popular culture, in the media, and especially in government. They have had … [Read more...]

Atheists at 25%

Atheist Revolution recently picked up on a stunning poll result described in The Nation:...a more recent and more nuanced Financial Times/Harris poll of Europeans and Americans that allowed respondents to declare agnosticism as well as atheism: 18 percent of the more than 2,000 American respondents chose one or the other, while 73 percent affirmed belief in God or a supreme being.A more general issue affects American surveys on religious beliefs, namely, the "social desirability effect," in … [Read more...]


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