A Review of Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism by Jerry DeWitt

Brother Jerry DeWitt has a problem. Since he first felt called to the ministry — a call that came in his teens — he’s been trying to bring about a revival: a gathering of souls that he would lead to Christ. He’s been moving from church to church, building his ministry and trying to get his doctrine right. Nothing seems to fit, and as time passes, it becomes clear to him that the disconnect is less about his failure to find the Word, and more a failure of the Word itself, which contains a myriad of positions that Jerry can’t accept, and contradictions that he ultimately comes to see as lies.

This is the central arc of Hope After Faith: An Ex-Pastor’s Journey from Belief to Atheism (Da Capo Press, 2013). DeWitt starts by taking us back to his roots in DeRidder, Louisiana, to a church culture where religion fundamentally reorders one’s priorities, that sees spirituality as its wellspring, and accepts God as the only possible source of hope. These are people who welcome (Christian) preaching in the public schools and call their minister right after dialing 9-1-1. The first two-thirds of the book catalogue DeWitt’s struggles to balance creating a life for his family with finding his way as a young, Pentecostal preacher. The last third tells the story of his ultimate disillusionment with Christianity, his coming out as an atheist, and the fallout, as his professional and personal life disintegrate and he becomes a pariah.

Where a secular person looks inward to know their own mind, DeWitt looks to prayer and interpretation of doctrine to guide him. Watching him rationalize again and again as he tries desperately to reconcile the words of preachers, and finally the Bible, with his own deeply held humanism is at the same time sad and moving. Jerry is a good person: he wants everyone to be saved and rejects concepts like eternal punishment. As his doubts multiply, he pays for that disconnect with panic attacks, crushing guilt, and a growing sense of isolation. I sympathized with DeWitt’s struggles, but was troubled by the way his personal life mirrored the same ego masked by humility that he found so frustrating in preachers and ministries: though aware of his wife’s frustration with their lifestyle, he uprooted his small family again and again, keeping them in poverty as he followed his dreams of revival. DeWitt would be the first person to admit that he’s as flawed as anyone else, but I would have appreciated a little more self-examination.

This leads me to my primary issue with Hope After Faith. By focusing so sharply on the ups and downs of his church and professional life, DeWitt missed an opportunity to provide details that would have brought the culture and beliefs he grew up with to life for people not steeped in them. Broadening the scope of the book would also have allowed him to speak to some elements noticeably absent: how socially conservative was DeWitt, during his 25 years as a preacher? How did he feel about issues like separation of church and state, the seemingly secondary role of women in Pentecostal culture, or gay marriage? How did those stances evolve as his spiritual beliefs evolved, and how did that impact his relations with his friends and family? Addressing these questions would have bolstered the story of his evolution in ways more engaging to a secular audience than evolving perspectives on biblical doctrine and frustration with preachers and churches. Perhaps he chose to limit his subject matter to make the book more accessible to people living faith-based lifestyles, who might be intrigued by a doctrinal discussion where they would recoil from a policy-based one. Regardless, a more comprehensive narrative, with concrete scenes to ground it, would have made the story more compelling. As it stands, the first two-thirds of the book is a bit slow.

The message of Hope After Faith is one of authenticity and freedom. Jerry is looking for answers — he’s looking for authority; what he finds is his own, moral center. He becomes more fully what he was all along, by shedding the doctrine that was holding him back. This is the essence of all good narrative journeys, and in this, the book is ultimately successful.

There’s value in Hope After Faith for atheists and theists alike. For atheists, the book opens a window to a foreign world, but one where despite a deep commitment to religious belief, rationality can win out. There are many “how to argue with a religious person” texts out there, but very few that walk you through, step by step, the thoughts and feelings over time that bring about fundamental change.

For the religious, there’s a message of life after faith — a potentially better life, but one whose challenges aren’t glossed over. The path that DeWitt paves is littered with sacrifice and loss, but holds a promise of authenticity that might resonate with a segment of the religious population hungry for reason, but unable to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The message that interested me the most, however, is one that applies to both audiences — that morality comes from within. DeWitt remains essentially himself throughout the story: a humanist who feels that a good life is one led in service. To believe that he was a good man before leaving the church is to believe that you can be a good, moral person even if the core beliefs that drive your values are wrong. To believe that he’s a good man now is to believe that you can have values that define and guide you, without God.

The book flap (and Amazon blurb) note that “atheism’s leading lights have long been intellectuals raised in the secular and academic world” and it contrasts that with DeWitt’s 25-year journey out of faith. A few months ago, I went to an Ethical Humanist Society Meetup where I heard DeWitt (along with Dan Barker) speak. At that time, DeWitt expressed his discomfort with the dismissive way that some of the people in his new, secular world talked about the people that he still loves and considers to be his family. Though I’ve been an atheist my whole life, I’ll admit to some of the same discomfort. I believe that there’s a lot of (often justified) anger and frustration in the atheist community, and it’s not always pretty to watch it play out. At the same time, we’re culturally inculcated to show deference to faith, and learning how to best give voice to an opposing viewpoint is a road that the atheist community is just beginning to travel. Jerry Dewitt — and the growing number of people like him — are an important part of the atheist community, and Hope After Faith is an important signpost along that road.

About Steven M. Long

Steven M. Long is a freelance writer who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago. As well as writing for Friendly Atheist, Steve blogs about fantasy and science fiction at Foesofreality.com, and maintains a personal/professional site at Stevenmlong.com. His Twitter handle is @StevenMLong.

  • Seen It Before

    The real problem Jerry had was that he was just never very successful. Over half his book is complaining that he was not making any big money.
    That’s it.
    As to the rest of his story, who knows?
    Because we have the same problem we have with Barker, Loftus, McBain and the other “devonverted” Christians. And that is, that they admit they lied; the admit they continued to preach to their congregations when they no long believed.
    If they lied then, maybe they are lying now to pump up sales.
    And maybe they aren’t.
    The point is, we really don’t know how much they “believed” or why they “deconverted”. As it is, they are all still preaching, and trying to make a few bucks off the gospel.

  • mikespeir

    What a simplistic analysis! I’ve read the book, and though I was never a professional minister, I was in ministry. The line between belief and unbelief is often very fuzzy. You’re always asking yourself, “Are my doubts justified?” When you have souls (Christian thinking) under your care you want to err on the side of caution. Yes, my belief was starting to fade (and it’s grossly incorrect to aver it was never there), but what right did I have to impose my doubts on people for whom I was responsible when I was so very aware I might be wrong? So I continued on teaching like I always had. In fact, it was only later, long after I had effectively ceased to believe, when it fully occurred to me that I no longer did. It wasn’t dishonesty that had propelled me during the interim, but self doubt and the care and concern I had for the people under my tutelage.

  • Sven2547

    Ah yes. ‘He’s a liar and he was probably never a believer to begin with.’ Because going into ministry is such a logical career choice for non-believers.

    You’ve got an ironic screenname, given how clichéd your remarks are. I’ve seen them before.

  • Michael W Busch

    That someone admits to having lied in the past does not mean that “maybe they are lying now to pump up sales”. Your claim, taken to its conclusion, would lead to there being two classes of people in the world: people who never lie, and liars who never admitted to it. In reality, people can and do believe wrong things and can and do change their minds. For example: the majority of atheistic and otherwise non-religious Americans were once Christians.

    We judge people by their actions as well as their words. So someone who admits to having been wrong and lied in the past and is now trying to correct the harm that that did is probably more trustworthy than someone who never admits to their mistakes. And most former clergy who disavow their prior beliefs act in ways entirely consistent with people who have abandoned their previous careers promoting what they now know is a lie and are trying to rebuild their lives.

    For example:

    DeWitt left the clergy and had a secular job for a while before he was public about his atheism. He might still be quiet about it, except that he was outed when attending a meeting with Richard Dawkins – whereupon his boss fired him (the job may have been secular, but Louisiana has at-will employment). Since then, he has been looking for work and the public speaking and book-writing is a good use of his skills.

    Similarly but much earlier, Dan Barker left the clergy and worked secular jobs (computing and music, if I’m remembering correctly) for a few years before he took the job at FFRF.

    Also, preachers may want to preach, but when they’re to all appearances sincerely opposing religion that’s not the same thing as “trying to make a few bucks off the gospel”.

  • Thomas J. Lawson

    To deny our evolved necessity to operate in groups will be our downfall. If a bacterium could talk, even it would say: “I just like the feeling I get being part of something larger than myself.”

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    Um, what?

  • Gus Snarp

    What’s your point, exactly? A true believer would never become an atheist, so he must not have been a true believer or must not be an atheist? What then is his motivation for this? He’s going to cash in by writing a book and doing the atheist lecture circuit?

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but Hemant wrote a book. It did pretty well. He’s done the atheist lecture circuit. He’s still a public school teacher. I expect Hemant is very dedicated to teaching, but I also expect he still needs the paycheck. First books don’t tend to net much for their authors, even if they do quite well. Especially a book like this that isn’t going to see the kind of sales volume of a Harry Potter even if it does exceptionally well. The atheist lecture circuit is no way to make a living.

    So maybe he plans to make a living as an author, but that’s still going to require writing more books, which is, frankly, a lot of work. Especially writing good ones. He’ll have lost the hot story of the Pentecostal preacher turned atheist and have to interest his audience with something else, so he’s either going to have to write really good books or he’s going to see fewer readers with future books. Any way you look at it, this is not a path to easy riches. There’s no scam here.

    So he was always an agent of Satan and just pretended to be a preacher and this is the next step in his plot to steal souls from Jesus?

    Your argument makes no sense. There’s no reasonable reason not to take him at his word when he talks about his life as a preacher or his decisions and thoughts about changing that. Were their times in the process when he was dishonest? I guess so, but you’re going to have to come up with a lot better than that if you really want to damage his credibility.

  • drno07

    Can’t tell if trolling or if you really don’t see your own logical fallacies…

  • Joshua Barrett

    who are these people who never lie when circumstance demands it? Not any humans I have met. Should we also not listen to scientists that are paid to do their job? It seems your just making up ways to discredit someone you decided you don’t like, as your reasoning could be literally applied to anyone.

  • baal

    How ironic that this point on dishonesty is being made by the nym, “seen it before.” I’ve seen this point on dishonesty brought up time and again in this blog every time one of the former preachers is the subject of the blog post. And every time, there are good and great refutations from the atheist side but little more than invective and name calling from the claimants of ‘dishonesty’. So ‘Seen It Before’ how about addressing the point of the psychology of the spectrum of doubt and the point of needing to feed your family (while apearently doing your job to the full degree you were contracted to do).

  • The Other Weirdo

    I get it.

  • The Other Weirdo

    My questions is, why do we have to keep calling him Brother?

  • Machintelligence

    The line would have been even better if given to one of the mitochondria, but it works for symbiotic bacteria.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    You present belief and nonbelief as an either/or proposition and in a sense they are. But in another sense, there are people who don’t actually believe but want to so they convince themselves that they do. How do you differentiate between self-delusion and true self-delusional belief. Perhaps one day there will be some sort of brain scan that can tell the difference but I don’t know how we would. I have long looked at Christian friends and relatives and thought that they don’t truly believe what they claim they do, because if they truly believed they would live very different lives. Too many Christians fear public disapproval for what they do in secret and obviously have no fear of god’s judgment or they wouldn’t be doing those things (since theoretically speaking they cannot be secret from an all-knowing deity). But those people believe that they belief and since the true American religion is belief in belief then those people are probably the vast majority of “believers.” So I don’t know that DeWitt was a liar until the end when he found himself trapped in a career with no real options. He’s not alone in that situation. I have met others like him. As to whether or not one can “trust” him, why would we need to. I can read what he has to say, think “isn’t that interesting?” and then go on to something else. Even if he is lying, what difference does that make?

  • Guest

    I didn’t want to get too minute, Mach.

  • Thomas J. Lawson

    See my “guest” comment above. Got too “mouse-click happy.”

  • Thomas J. Lawson

    Well, it’s better than Father Jerry.

  • The Other Weirdo

    No, it isn’t.

  • Vanadise

    I don’t think anybody said you have to. If he likes being called that, though, I don’t see why not.

  • friendlyandatheist

    Why is it that the most illiterate and highly uneducated Christians become atheists? Why?
    Poor guy. He became a “pastor” when he was 19!!! Wow! That takes…let’s see…a high school degree.

    I hope he admits in his book that he was highly uneducated when he became a pastor. And that he probably never learned greek or latin; and that philosophy was obviously not on the menu. I’m afraid Jess is even more illiterate than ever before.
    Is he still looking for a job?

  • friendlyandatheist

    Sorry.. JEFF, not Jess

  • Len

    So he wasn’t really a …?

    This is fun (the first part for you, the rest for all of us): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOlLs-VsAX0

  • Gus Snarp

    This is the best way to point out “no true Scotsman” I have ever heard.

  • Madison Blane

    I, too, am a recovering United Pentecostal. I hear many say, “There’s no use in arguing with a Theist!” and I would like to respectfully disagree. I would like to say that I am thankful for every person who encouraged and taught me to be logical, argued with me, pointed out the flaws in my reasoning, answered my every question and challenge, and held my hand through the transition to Atheist. Planting seeds matters! Few, if any, Atheists have ever abandoned their religious lives after just one conversation. Many hold on until the last thread is ragged. It took me over 10 years. You may never know what sticks in a person’s mind, what moves them one inch closer to abandoning their dogma, or what the proverbial straw may be. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. I mean, who would venture to explain Atheism to a Pentecostal preacher? But somebody did -for me, for Jerry, and for hundreds and thousands of others – and it has made all the difference in our lives. It’s time to realize that Theists are people, too, and most have good hearts and good intentions, just bad information and conditioning. They are not our enemy and shouldn’t be treated as such.

  • Steven M. Long

    To my knowledge, Jerry doesn’t expect to be called Brother. I called him that in the first paragraph because at the time I was referring to – when he was still in the ministry – that’s what he was called.

  • Gus Snarp

    Seeing as how only the tiniest fraction of Christians learn Greek or Latin or philosophy, it is inevitable that most Christians who convert don’t know those things. Of course, there’s no reason that knowing Greek, Latin, or philosophy has anything to do with Christianity, or even with making a decision about religion. Meanwhile, most professional philosophers are not Christians.

    But I suppose none of us is qualified to decide for ourselves whether it makes sense to believe in god. We must either study Greek and Latin (why not Hebrew?), study philosophy, read the Bible in the original languages, as well as the commentary by scholars like Augustine, or else simply accept the word of someone who has done those things, since we are unqualified.

    I suppose you studied Sanskrit and read the Bhagavad Gita before rejecting Hinduism? And then the Buddhavacana? And no doubt you’ve read the Koran in Arabic? The Analects of Confucius in Chinese? No? How can you be so illiterate and uneducated but claim these religions aren’t true?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Okay, thanks. That explains it. My misunderstanding.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    And of course everyone who has ever read the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic is a Christian?

  • Michael W Busch

    Why is it that the most illiterate and highly uneducated Christians become atheists? Why?

    You have that exactly backwards. Better and more comprehensive education is correlated with people abandoning religion – in this case, as DeWitt learned more, he realized that Christianity is wrong.

    Nor is DeWitt “illiterate” (at least in English) – that means “unable to read or write”, not “not well-read”.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    That is just oninony layers of goodness :-)

  • Michael W Busch

    Shouldn’t that have been Pali for the Buddhavacana? Or are you going back even earlier than the Pali Canon?

    And it gets worse when you consider Koranic Arabic and Old Chinese as compared to the current languages for Muhammad and Kong Fuzi respectively.

  • Gus Snarp

    No, I’m just not educated well enough on the original language of the Buddhavacana. ;-)

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    No, I’m just not educated well enough

    Well then, that explains why you’re an atheist!


  • Michael W Busch

    Given the complex history of Buddhism, that’s easy to be. Checking Wikipedia, I wasn’t right either.

    Pali would be for the Theravada Buddhavacana. The Mahayana texts are more heavy on Sanskrit. East Asian Buddhism includes a bunch of material in Old Chinese, with some in Classical Japanese (and also Vietnamese and Thai). And Tibetan Buddhism uses both material translated from Pali and Tibetan-original texts.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Another wit and you’d be a half-wit…It’s JERRY, you moron.

  • Carmelita Spats

    So I need to master Latin and Greek before I can bust a gut laughing at
    the notion of a joyous minx being impregnated by a sweaty Space Ghost
    who smelled of desperation and Brut Deodorant way way way back in the
    Bronze Age? I’m a gum-snapping Jesuit educated bimbo atheist, so “Mary’s
    capacious vaginal dimensions” would translate to “vaginus magicus ex
    culo Mariam”. Mighty Aphrodite! This video explains it all in ENGLISH!
    No Latin or Greek subtitles needed!

    Mary’s Fling:

  • Thomas J. Lawson

    What are your concerns, TOW? I think of it as a term of endearment and empathy. I call Jerry “Brother Jerry” whenever I talk to him. But as far as I know, he doesn’t expect anyone to call him that.

  • Bob Carlson

    I sympathized with DeWitt’s struggles, but was troubled by the way his personal life mirrored the same ego masked by humility that he found so frustrating in preachers and ministries: though aware of his wife’s frustration with their lifestyle, he uprooted his small family again and again, keeping them in poverty as he followed his dreams of revival.

    What I had trouble understanding was the importance he put on staying in DeRidder after he had become a pariah. His wife, unable to tolerate this, decided that she had to move away from DeRidder, and it seemed to me that he owed it to her to move away as well in view of all that she had put up with to keep the family together.

  • Bob Carlson

    I hope he admits in his book that he was highly uneducated when he became a pastor.

    I don’t recall that he talked about it directly because it was so obvious. My recollection is that the story makes it pretty obvious that as he began to have doubts about things like eternal damnation for sinners, he began to educate himself by reading to learn about things like science and humanism.

  • Mick

    How much bad information must they have received to encourage them to say things like this:

    …you are corrupt because of what you are not because of what you do. Everything you do in the context of being an unbeliever is inquity (sic) before God. You are incabable (sic) of pleasing God. Your best deeds on your best day are as filthy menstrual rags before God. You are born a sinner and you have a sentence of death hanging over your head. You are born separated from God and at enmity with Him. You are under the curse of His law and are going headlong down a path to eternal destruction unless you repent and receive Jesus as your Savior.


    Now the reason why, in my opinion, the bible doesn’t specify where babies go when they die – and we can also include the mentally handicapped and things (sic) of that nature – is because, if god said that all babies who die, when they’re babies, go to heaven, then a lot of Christians would go around slaughtering all the babies. They’d go to the Muslim countries and slaughter all the Muslim babies and all the Hindu babies — to guarantee their salvation.


  • Thomas White

    As a Humanist, I take it to mean ‘Brother within our species’ – Human. I think, and to echo the words of TJL above, it is far better than ‘Father’ (implying inferiority on our behalf), and is important to open the eyes and mind of those who still think there are differences between us.

  • Michael Wilson

    That first paragraph sounds a lot like projection to me.

  • Addressingtheherd

    Looked up DeWitt on Wikipedia–former pastor of two evangelical churches. Gosh, how did I guess?

    So, how about that recent study that showed the majority of U.S. faithful are moderates? Doesn’t it make you feel a little silly about portraying believers as backwoods fundies, when most of us are nothing of the kind?

    Just kidding. I know it’s your job. Do you get paid for aping the media narrative (fundie-to-atheist) regarding religion? Just asking.

  • Addressingtheherd

    I see. We’re all fundies, then?

    I keep having to remind myself, and all the other non-fundie Christians I know, that we don’t actually exist.

  • Addressingtheherd

    “Better and more comprehensive education is correlated with people abandoning religion.”

    No, it isn’t. Exactly the opposite. I don’t have the data handy, but you can look it up–it’s out there. Huffington Post, for one, ran a piece. (Naturally, it received few comments.) Needless to say, the findings got very little attention, since they contradict the holy media anti-faith narrative.

  • TCC

    I know that you think you’re responding to this article, but I regret to inform you that you are sadly mistaken.

    A Former Non-Fundie Christian

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Let’s see:

    Numerous studies have dealt with the question of the role of higher education on religious apostasy, and many of these studies have found the link to be a positive one. In their carefully written work on religious dropouts, Caplovitz and Sherrow (1977) provide strong evidence that there is an important strain between commitment to intellectual pursuits and commitment to religion and that the former tends to clearly undermine the latter.


    I find that higher levels of education lead to lower levels of religious participation later in life. An additional year of education leads to a 4-percentage-point decline in the likelihood that an individual identifies with any religious tradition; the estimates suggest that increases in schooling can explain most of the large rise in non-affiliation in Canada in recent decades.


    Christian religions across America are concerned about the effects of education on religiosity, and with good reason – past research shows a negative correlation between level of education and religiosity. In other words, data show that as level of education rises, level of religiosity drops.


    There is this- more educated believers are more likely to ‘walk the walk’

    To some degree, those with a lower level of education are more likely to “talk the talk” when it comes to religion — that is, they’re more likely to say they believe in God, place religion prominently in their lives, and recognize religion’s importance in the world. But those with a higher level of education are as likely as those with less education to “walk the walk” — by belonging to a congregation and attending services regularly.


    HuffPo you say? I’ve tried and I can’t find that one.

    With a question as nuanced as that, yes, you can find studies that will give you conflicting answers. But if you think it’s ‘Exactly the opposite’ because you you read an article on Huffington Post that confirmed your view, then you are suffering from confirmation bias. Read more broadly, including things that contradict your view.

  • Addressingtheherd

    In English, this time?

  • Addressingtheherd

    Huffpo, I say? Found this within seconds, though it’s not what I was seeking:


    “However, the secularizing effect of higher education has come into question in the past decade with new research suggesting that young adults who never enrolled in college are currently the least religious Americans.”

    Anyway, I’ll seek out the piece I referred to. It’s somewhere, I recall it was quite straightforward in its presentation.

  • Alconnolly

    Thank you Michael for an articulate well reasoned comment. I see a massive difference between a guy like Jerry who when we finally solidified his unbelief resigned and got a secular job, and a person like Mcbain who openly states she had knowingly lost all faith for over a year and continued lying to her congregations face for money even though her husband had a good job as a cop and they were not going to starve. Then to add insult to injury rather then be honest with her congregation she went off and “came out” to thousands of atheist strangers immediately launching a new career and trying to gather sympathy that she was locked out of “her church” the one she abandoned so dramatically and hurt fully. Of course she has never even addressed the hurtful actions much less apologized and I do not understand how those who are supposed to be skeptical can accept that, but Jerry ethically resigned and got a job like anyone else. Very different stories revealing very different ethical cores.

  • The Other Weirdo

    My concerns? I see no reason to apply religious terms to people.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Here’s some more data-

    Education by faith: http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/comparison-Educational%20Distribution%20of%20Religious%20Traditions.pdf

    And by income: http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/comparison-Income%20Distribution%20of%20Religious%20Traditions.pdf

    Unfortunately these don’t include non believers other than ‘unaffiliated’, but does show the various influencing factors. Hindus for example are very highly educated in America. But then many Hindus in America are highly educated immigrants. They also have high incomes.

    Personally I’d like to see data on education level of people who think the earth was created in 6 days 6K years ago. Considering how many of them there are in the USA, I’m sure I wouldn’t actually enjoy it.

  • TCC

    If you think the above comments wasn’t entirely lucid English, then I’m afraid that the problem lies in your comprehension, not in my communication. (Then again, you might just be attempting to divert the discussion away from the fact that your criticism does not reflect anything Hemant has said.)

  • Ivy Shoots

    Idk who “we” is, but YOU are a troll, and a boring one. Keep reminding yourself that you don’t exist until it works.

  • Ivy Shoots

    Cornel West calls and refers to EVERYONE as brother and sister (“Brother Jerry,” “Sister Ivy”), and it has the effect of communicating his love and respect for them as fellow human beings, regardless of their disagreements. Isn’t that a reason?

  • The Other Weirdo

    I don’t really care what insert random name here calls a reason. I see no reason, and that’s good enough for me.

  • Addressingtheherd

    I can always tell the no-criticism-allowed sites, because charges of “troll” flare up without pause and in ritual fashion..

  • Addressingtheherd

    ??? The education-by-faith study is fragmented, and fairly useless since it organizes according to faith type. Is that same data presented anywhere in a straightforward fashion, where education and religiosity levels are tracked side by side, without being sliced into pieces? A simple pie chart or graph?

  • blasphemous_kansan

    “because charges of “troll” flare up without pause and in ritual fashion..”

    New to the internet, are we?

    For what it’s worth, I agree. Accusations of ‘troll’ do pop up in ritual fashion. Part of the ritual is that the accused usually makes a comment that, is either needlessly confrontational, is without substance, or a user has an obvious and particular ax to grind, and they spam multiple comment feeds with morphing screen names ranting about their completely unrelated topic. For example the big ol’ mean blogger who keeps picking on the Fundies. Yeah, you’re a really boring troll.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Not that I’ve seen. Which is kind of my point. And even if you could, it still wouldn’t tell you that education makes people atheists. Or even that atheists get more education. Or the reverse. There are too many other factors such as income level.

    Now that I think about it, Michael’s “Better and more comprehensive education is correlated with people abandoning religion” is just as unsupported as your “Exactly the opposite.”

    For one thing I highly doubt there is any actual data on “better and more comprehensive” education. There’s just “years of education”. It’s also exceedingly messy to actually measure ‘religiosity’. Do you believe in God? Do you pray? Do you believe God intervenes on behalf of prayers? Do you attend religious service? Depending on how you ask, you can get different results.

    My point is really that it’s complex enough that any of us can point to an article to back up what we want to be true. I think all of us have done this here, including me.

  • Shelynn

    Wow, where’s the “like” button on this page. I had to share via Facebook the posts from Madison Blane & “Mick” below – nicely written you two, & thanks!