The Task Before Us

The survey data over the last few years shows that an increasing percentage of Americans consider themselves non-religious and a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (hat tip: A-News) finds that almost half of Americans consider this to be a negative thing:

About half of Americans say the growing number of “people who are not religious” is bad for American society. But a similar share say either that this trend is good or that it does not make much difference, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center…

The new, nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life asked Americans whether having “more people who are not religious” is a good thing, a bad thing, or doesn’t matter for American society. Many more say it is bad than good (48% versus 11%). But about four-in-ten (39%) say it does not make much difference. Even among adults who do not identify with any religion, only about a quarter (24%) say the trend is good, while nearly as many say it is bad (19%); a majority (55%) of the unaffiliated say it does not make much difference for society.

So how do we change the prevailing opinion and turn those percentages around? The same way that the LGBT community has had such success doing so over the last 10-15 years, by being out and proud. For most, this is almost certainly a soft, squishy bit of bigotry based on ignorance rather than a deep-seated hatred or distrust of the non-religious. And many other polls have shown that this process has already begun, that the trends are already in the right direction. As more and more people come out as non-believers, more and more of that 48% will come to recognize the common humanity simply because they will then know that they know someone who is not religious.

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  • raven

    But a similar share say either that this trend is good or that it does not make much difference, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center…

    According to the latest Gallup GSS, 68% of the US population identifies as xian.

    Some of the Nones think being a None is a bad thing. Which makes no sense. Must be faithiests.

    Anyway, a lot of that half that thinks US xianity dying is a good thing or irrelevant are…xians.

  • matty1

    I don’t read it as they think being a None is a bad thing, they think increasing numbers of Nones is a bad thing. They may regard themselves as a kind of elite who are unusually qualified to handle the truth while lesser people need religion to keep them in line. This attitude is disturbingly common among some of the intellectual right such as Straussians.

  • DonDueed

    I don’t hide the fact of my godlessness, but I don’t exactly broadcast it either. I suppose if there were an “Atheist Pride” parade I’d participate. On the other hand, I’m in New England rather than anywhere that being openly godless is a health hazard, so it wouldn’t be an act of courage to be more fully out.

    One place I do enjoy being forthright is with the nattily-dressed doorknockers that cruise the neighborhood from time to time. One recent exchange began something like this:

    Godpeddler: “Hi! We were wondering whether you think God is concerned about the state of things in this country.”

    Me: “Well, probably not, since no such thing exists.”

    I don’t get too many doorknockers any more.

  • I think you’re reading this the wrong way. If you add the people who think it’s good, and the people who think it will have no change at all, we’re winning 52-48.

  • raven

    I don’t get too many doorknockers any more.

    Me either.

    I also used to get a lot of fliers in the mail to visit this or that local church. One was about one of the many coming Apocalypses and how I could survive it, albeit in a post living state. Not any more. Not sure why but I suspect they didn’t get any volunteers and decided to save the postage money.

    I always tried to be polite to the missionaries. Most, especially the JW’s and Mormons are forced to do it and AFAICT, never get any converts. It’s more to do with the Fallacy of Sunk Costs in action, make them waste years of their life so they feel invested in the religion and don’t want to write off their costs.

    These days, I would probably still be polite but rather than listen to them try to convert me, I would try to convert them. Why not, they can always leave if they don’t want to hear it.

  • anubisprime

    Whatever way the stats are sliced and diced..this is not particularly ‘good news’ for the delusionally motivated.

    This is an American poll…would anyone here have forecast such a cut in results say a decade ago?

  • CaitieCat

    I always used to like to answer the door nude when the Mormons came around (apartment with controlled access, so they don’t anymore).

    If I can’t get my kit off quick enough, then I’ll just tell them “I can’t talk long, because the coven’s on its way over, and I’ve got half a dozen kittens on the stove,”. or,

    “Can I talk to you about God?”

    “Well, you can, but I’m going to close the door and go back to what I was doing, and you’ll be on that side of it, so I don’t reckon either of us’ll get much out of the conversation. I hope you enjoy it, though.”

    It’s weird, though, they never seem to want to talk to me for long.

  • sillose

    proper missionary protocol is to replace ‘trick or treat’ with ‘jesus’ and candy with bargain bin sex toys. side note: dont use the same bowl-its probably too small; get a basket.