I Love This High School Newspaper’s Article About the Rise of the ‘Nones’

The Hockaday School is a private boarding school for girls in Dallas, Texas (I’m picturing something like the place Rory attended in Gilmore Girls). A while back, I spoke to Katie Payne, an editor for their student newspaper, for an article she was working on about why people turn their backs on religion.

That article is now online:

To many atheists like Mehta and other religiously unaffiliated individuals, the most shocking aspect of this budding population is the quick nature of its growth. In less than five years, the number of unaffiliated Americans has grown by five percentage points, and no movement can grow this rapidly without burgeoning culture.

Since the publication of Sam Harris’s book “The End of Faith” in 2004, the atheist and “none” culture has exploded with publications, speeches and even more books criti­cizing dogma and faith.

“When I was in High School, 10 or 11 years ago, there were not sections in Barnes & Noble dedicated to atheism. Now there are. There wasn’t a huge atheist book selection online. Now there is. There weren’t blogs, and now there are,” Mehta said.

As someone who worked on a high school newspaper and has seen many more papers at other schools, trust me when I say it’s rare to see this kind of depth in any student-written article. (Hell, most schools wouldn’t even dare to allow such a controversial topic to be covered.)

That said, my favorite part of the whole layout may be that beautiful modified image of a dollar bill referencing our shifting demographics (also created by Katie):

Kudos to Katie and the newspaper staff for doing such a great job with their coverage.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504525766 Michael Harbour

    Made the dollar image my facebook cover. (With a link to the article, of course.)

  • Octoberfurst

    I loved the new dollar image too! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cameron-Willadsen/550975056 Cameron Willadsen

    These sort of articles remind me of the absolute necessity of organized atheist movements to gain a piece of the political pie. Again Mr. Mehta thank you for this great blog and your part in bringing this sort of knowledge and more to the non-religious community.

  • Ronlawhouston

    I know I’m being picky and negative, but “nones” does not equal atheist. If pressed many nones would likely express some belief in some idea of a higher power or whatever.

    • A3Kr0n

      Eh, it’s a start.

    • freemage

      Yes, but “nones” are far, FAR more likely to accept the notion of a secular society free from any specific dogma-based laws. In this, at least, they’re allies of politically-minded atheists.

      • jnhofzinser

        do you have any evidence for this assertion, or does it derive entirely from faith?

        • freemage

          Anecdote (ie, in a circle that contains many “nones”, I’ve met very few who still oppose gay marriage, abortion or contraception–they aren’t necessarily liberals, either, mind you–just not seeking to establish a borderline theocracy), plus common sense. Nones, by definition, have no dogma to reflexively seek put into law. Can you come up with a counter-example or reason why a None would want, for instance, the Ten Commandments or a painting of Jesus posted in a school?

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          There’s the GSS data regarding support for the SCOTUS ruling against state-mandated prayers in schools, for one; r=0.23, α=0.38 or so. (You can also control for degree in belief in God, if you’re curious about the differences between the atheist/agnostics/deists and the nothing-in-particular “NIPper” nones.)

          • jnhofsinzer

            Funny: forbidding prayer in schools surely qualifies as a “dogma-based law”. And abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage are a bizarre collection of indications of “secular society”.

            • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

              The first only qualifies in so far as you consider secularism itself a dogma. (Note, prayer is not prohibited; merely prayer imposed by state agents. There will be prayer in school as long as there are students who do not study for math tests.) Similarly, the others are picked out as issues where the polarization is largely on the lines of religious dogma; EG, the Catholic “Humanae Vitae” encyclical.

              But I don’t see an issue with your position being taken seriously by those that would agree to your seeming premise of increased acceptance of the notion of a secular society being likely uncorrelated (or perhaps reverse correlated) to acceptance of the SCOTUS rulings against public school prayer.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      The Pew Forum has a couple reports that get into the differences.

      A 2003 Gallup poll indicated percentage opposition to “In God We Trust” was somewhere around half to two-thirds the percentage level of the “Nones” at the time.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    The Hockaday School. That brings back memories. I lived in the Hockaday Village Apartments for a time and remember the school and its students quite well. As I recall, they were very liberated even 40+ years ago, so this does not surprise me at all. :D

  • Patrick Dunn

    I may consider writing “in five Americans disagree” on my dollar bills instead of crossing out the offending motto . . .

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Countdown to stamp-for-sale starting….

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i’m still trying to figure out what a flaming eye over an egyptian pyramid have to do with/on US currency…

  • Sindigo

    That’s a nice looking layout for a high school paper. Do the kids do all this themselves? How old are they in high school?


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