Did we all rebrand ourselves as “nonbelievers” all of a sudden?
Yesterday, The Washington Post ran an article on the rise of atheism.
What do we learn?
There’s a 500-person waiting list for the Atheist Alliance International convention in two weeks:
“People who were ashamed to say there is no God now say, ‘Wow, there are others out there who think like me, and it feels damned good,’ ” said Margaret Downey, president of the Atheist Alliance International, whose membership has almost doubled in the past year to 5,200. It has a 500-person waiting list for its convention in Crystal City later this month.
And did she just say “there is no God”? Oh boy. That’s very un-Margaret-like of her.
According to the Barna Group (religious pollsters), atheists have unprecedented numbers:
A study released in June by the Barna Group, a religious polling firm, found that about 5 million adults in the United States call themselves atheists. The number rises to about 20 million — about one in every 11 Americans — if people who say they have no religious faith or are agnostic (they doubt the existence of a God or a supreme deity) are included.
… one in four adults ages 18 to 22 describe themselves as having no faith.
Who are these atheists? Often, they are richer, more educated, single men:
They tend to be more educated, more affluent and more likely to be male and unmarried than those with active faith, according to the Barna study.
The budget of the Council for Secular Humanism has climbed 40 percent in the past two years, approaching $8 million this year.
Atheists should be even more commonplace when you hear why some people made the switch:
Javier Sanchez-Yoza, 21, a biology major at George Mason University, is a former born-again Christian who gave up his belief in God two years ago and is starting an atheist club at school. He turned atheist after growing skeptical of Christian friends’ arguments for creationism.
“If they can be wrong about creationism, what else can they be wrong about?” Sanchez-Yoza said.
Coming out is still tough:
Maggie Ardiente, 24, of Silver Spring faced the disapproval of her family and some friends because of her atheist beliefs. “It’s hard for them even to comprehend,” she said.
We may be a distrusted minority and unlikely to be elected into public office, but people associate us with crime:
In a nationwide poll last year by University of Minnesota researchers, Americans rated atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” They also associated atheists with everything from criminal behavior to rampant materialism. According to a recent USA Today/Gallup Poll, more than half would not vote for an atheist for president.
Incidentally, in 1997, atheists were 0.2% of the prison population, compared to over 10% of the general population.
[tags]atheist, atheism, On Faith[/tags]