A Slight Change in Australia’s Census Could Lead to Major Change in Religious Demographics

In 2011, the last time Australia conducted its census, this is the way researchers asked people about their religion:

“No religion” is waaaaay at the bottom of the list, under the giant “Other” section, where it’s possible many people didn’t even see it.

That’s about to change.

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India’s Census Reveals 2.87 Million People Who Are Non-Religious

India just got around to releasing the results from its 2011 census, one that included a “non-faith” category for the first time ever, and we can attach a number to the group:

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New Study Shows That, on Hot-Button Issues, Most American Catholics Disagree with Catholicism

A new study by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service is called “The Francis Effect? U.S. Catholic Attitudes on Pope Francis, the Catholic Church, and American Politics”… but it really should be called “Why the hell are all of you still Catholic?”

It turns out that on some of the most hot-button social issues of our time — like marriage equality and abortion rights — American Catholics are virtually indistinguishable from the general public on their views. That means they’re going against what the Church wants them to believe:

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What Else Can We Learn from the Atheist Prison Data?

There are still some interesting questions regarding the FOIA data that Hemant acquired describing the self-reported religious preferences of federal prison populations.

For starters, why is it that Texas has the most atheist prisoners? Can that really be explained by them simply having more federal prisons?

Turns out: Yes, it’s a great explanation. In fact, we can test this statistically to see exactly how well one variable correlates with another.

Here is an image of one such correlation, looking at the relationship between the number of federal prisoners in a state and the number of atheist prisoners among that population:

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Atheists Now Make Up 0.1% of the Federal Prison Population

How many atheists are in the U.S. federal prison system?

Is the percentage of atheists in prison more or less than what we’d find in the general population?

And are any of those numbers actually meaningful?

Two years ago, I set out to explore those questions. I found that self-described atheists made up an astonishingly-low 0.07% of the prison population, far less than anyone expected. (Though that percentage came with several caveats.)

I wanted to know if those numbers had changed at all since 2013, so earlier this summer, I filed another FOIA request with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This time, I didn’t just ask for the religious demographics of all prisoners; I also requested a state-by-state breakdown. The information arrived earlier this week (broken down by individual prisons instead of states). You can see the raw data here along with a spreadsheet I created.

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