The Nones are Taking Over!

A recent survey by Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that people with no religious affiliation make up about 1. 1 billion, or 16 percent, of the world’s population.

That’s not actually surprising, nor is the fact that the majority of the religiously unaffiliated live in the Pacific rim, and are in the majority in places like China, Korea and Japan. The idea of religious affiliation has always been a bit trickier in the east than in the monotheistic west. The fact that North Korea and China have taken hostile stances towards certain religions is likely an issue as well.

All of this could lead to an interesting discussion of what it means to say that someone is affiliated with a religion or no religion. There is great diversity among the members of any given religion, and there is great diversity among the unaffiliated as well. Certainly many of the affiliated are non-believers, and many of the unaffiliated believe and choose not to call themselves members of any particular faith.

But you’re not going to hear that discussion of Fox News:

Deck the halls with well-worn talking points.

Notice that they jump from talking about a global survey to talking about the only part of the globe that matters: America. The Rabbi delivers the standard harrumph about the need for a God to ground morality, ignoring the Hindus, Buddhists and other non-monotheists on the list. A Pastor gives a plug for his own growing church in Dallas, which makes it seem like he’s completely lost the plot.

As one of my professors used to say, these folks are so narrow that they could look through a keyhole with both eyes.

Romance at Mars Hill
Trying On Atheism
All Cycles Come to an End
Atheists in the Evangelical Mind
  • Custador

    Ye Gods! How much botox has that woman had? Never mind the forehead, has she had it injected directly into her brain?!

  • JohnMWhite

    This is an interesting case study in precisely how insular, self-centred and disinterested in anybody not like them the Judeo-Christian right-wing echo chamber has become. The very first thing they do is introduce a pastor and a rabbi… to talk about the people who are not religiously affiliated. The rabbi’s first comment is that secular people actually do have a religion, because he is incapable of accepting that people can make their own decisions and might even decide to not base their life around a religious doctrine, and presumably he just isn’t in agreement with the dictionary about what words mean. He describes this secular religion as ‘left liberalism’ which is a political stance and not remotely a religion (and by no means shared broadly across the religiously unaffiliated), but he’s just too ignorant to get that. He’s worried about the country’s ‘identity’ because to him a non Judeo-Christian identity just isn’t an identity at all. Essentially he’s saying that if you’re not Judeo-Christian, you’re not moral and you’re not a real, self-actualised person. Only Christians and Jews count.

    The blinky, grinny, somewhat creepy pastor agrees, naturally, but then decides that actually he knows the minds of ‘people’ and ‘people’ want to associate with god but not necessarily a particular religious label. Ironically he’s almost onto a point there, because of course there are a good number of people of faith who are not religiously affiliated, but he seems to just be in a rush to ramble about his church and doesn’t display any evidence of actually having thought about the issue. He’s also plain stupid in every single word out of his mouth about the Newtown shooting. Every single one. I can’t even begin to go into how bad that part was. The fact evil occurs is proof of the existence of god, because god hates evil? Brilliant.

    “There’s more to life than simply being a good person,” says the rabbi, again demonstrating his myopic view of the world and kind of making his god look bad. If that god needs more than that from us, then that’s his problem, but hey, there are a lot of gods out there and there are a lot of people who get a lot out of life without any of them. I know I’d rather spend my life trying to be good to the people around me and trying to enjoy myself from time to time than I would exerting myself to ensure gay people can’t get married and women can’t access health services so I score brownie points with god. Amazing that being good to one another (Jesus’ core commandment) is reduced to ‘feelgoodism’ by a sneering Fox News host.

    Of course, as the OP notes, they all get off to a brilliant start by mistaking ‘the world’ for ‘the United States of America’. They are incapable of thinking about the world outside their bubble. They have firmly planted their heads up their own ass.

    • rdanger

      Nicely done. Excellent analysis.

  • Zapski

    I had to stop at the pastor’s assertion that they are taking over 5 blocks of Dallas for a $130 million dollar facility.

    The rage I’m feeling at the gross display of hypocrisy is really threatening what is otherwise a good morning.

  • kessy_athena

    It’s quite a comment on Fox News that they’ve taken the “One person from each side of the issue with the anchor in the middle” format and turned it into a chorus singing in unison from the Murdoch hymnal.

  • Cristian Emanuel

    I would like to send these two idiots to hell if there would be one. The more atheists, free thinkers and logical people walk among us, the better!
    1 billion? This is making me feeling ok. Let’s open the minds of the one billion more. And after that… to another billion. And guess what? Finally we will start to evolve.
    You see? I get these names and I even HAVEN’T asked for them.
    Now… can you imagine how “nice” is to be atheist… and to be named “Cristian-Emanuel”? Ha!
    I feel like throwing up…

  • lolwut


    Oh faux news, you never fail to fail.

  • Paxalot

    I agree. People everywhere are cooking a young goat in it’s mother’s milk. Every moral person knows that this is God’s 10th commandment. God tells us what is important, like taking every 7th day off or else he’ll let a moral mob murder you. We all know that constitution reads “we the christian coservative real americans…”. “We the people..” is a left wing liberal lie. A relationship with the crazy voices in your head is essential to a decent life. Also reading about the crazy voices in the heads of pre-scientific goat herders that thought disease was caused by a dirty look.

  • Keulan

    For a discussion on the nones in America (as they clearly ignored that it’s 16% of the whole world) they could have at least brought in one of those nones to talk. Instead they had a stupid rabbi and an equally stupid Christian pastor, plus the host, all agreeing with each other. Fox “News” can claim to be fair and balanced all they want, but they’re clearly anything but that.

    • FO

      Their audience is not interested in hearing The Enemy’s reasons.
      They just want to hear that they are right.

    • FO

      Can we please expand the definition of “religion” to include also historical Communism?
      I don’t want to be counted in the same group of people who are not allowed to choose.

      • JohnMWhite

        That would necessitate ignoring what the words ‘religion’ and ‘Communism’ mean.

        • FO

          *Historical* Communism has not much to do with the Communism ideology (ask any modern Communist) and the only thing that differentiates it from an actual religion is some metaphysical claim; in North Korean Communism even this last requirement is fulfilled by the transcendental might of the Dear Leader, it is already a religion.

          • JohnMWhite

            You didn’t say North Korean Communism, and you’re still ignoring what words mean, sorry. Mao’s little red book and the Communist manifesto are not exactly holy books inspired by a supernatural being. Look, you can draw parallels all you like, you can say metaphorically Communism or other ideologies are similar to a religion, but it’s simply not true that just because something is forced on people it becomes a religion. By your logic education is a religion and so was smallpox vaccination. So is being Canadian, since their figurehead leader is supposedly appointed by god, even though almost nobody really takes that seriously anymore.

            kessy+athena is pretty much spot on. You’re doing yourself and the English language a disservice here. I get that you are frustrated with ignorant theists saying Stalin killing lots of people means atheists are evil, but responding to that with willful conflating of things that aren’t really the same isn’t going to fix anything.

            • FO

              You continue insisting that I am changing the meaning of words.
              What do you expect me to do more than writing explicitly that it is exactly what I want* to do (what part of “expand the definition” isn’t clear to you?)
              And LOL, I didn’t mention NK so you assumed that I was categorically wrong, rather than realizing that you didn’t consider all the options…
              I understand why some commenters consider you a troll.

              *Not really, if you read my other posts you’ll discover that I don’t think that redefining words is any practical.

      • UrsaMinor

        Communism is an ideology, to be sure. All religions are ideologies, but not all ideologies are religions (see Communism).

        What’s lacking here is the supernatural/metaphysical component.

        • kessy_athena

          All religions are ideologies only in the broadest sense of the word “ideology”: any body of beliefs. While christianity and its relatives are certainly ideologies by any definition, many traditional religions are simply a loose collection of stories, customs and rituals, without any particular doctrine or explicit unifying principles.

        • FO

          This is why I want the definition to be expanded, I want to remove the supernatural requirement.
          “Holy” Books? Check.
          Dogmas? Check.
          Social rituals? Check.
          Public display of piety? Check.
          Forced compliance? Check.
          Rejection of science when clashing with doctrine? Check.

          And, as I said above, North Korean Communism does fulfil the supernatural requirement.

          • FO

            AFAIK there is no straightforward Communist temple!
            At best they may have some shrines to dead leaders here and there.
            I think this would be a very important thing that all religions proper should have.

            Are there religions without dedicated temples?

            • UrsaMinor

              The Church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn doesn’t appear to have any.

          • kessy_athena

            FO, think about what you’re doing. You’re taking two social phenomena that you don’t like and trying to apply the same label to them because you perceive them as being somewhat similar to each other in why you don’t like them, regardless of whether or not they’re objectively similar to each other. Does this sound at all familiar?

            I’m also kind of troubled by your checklist. A lot of the things you listed can apply to all sorts of things in society. Especially since to get them to apply to Communism, you have to take a pretty loose interpretation of their definitions. For example, social rituals and public displays of piety. Football, anyone? (Both kinds.) And a lot of them also don’t apply to all religions in general. For example, the idea of gospel, of a text that is in itself holy and the absolutely authoritative word of god, is pretty much unique to Christianity and its relatives.

            And what rejection of science when it clashes with doctrine are you talking about? Aside from the obvious stuff with American Evangelicals. When did communist regimes do this? When have Buddhism or Taoism or any of the tons of other religions in the world done this?

            • Elemenope

              Communist Regimes Behaving Badly, as they often did when it came to science. Lysenkoism is only the most famous example, which ruined the development of genetics, organic chemistry, and evolutionary biology in the Soviet Union for several decades.

              Taoism is one of the few religions that has an essentially empiricist outlook–the universe is literally there so you can poke it with a stick and see what falls out–and so to the extent they even really still exist and have much influence, they aren’t the problem. The problem with Buddhism is mainly that it renders the Demarcation problem a mess by eliding the distinction between physics and metaphysics.

              I agree with you, though, in the broader sense. It is not a good idea to broaden the definition of “religion” to include many entities that don’t intuitively belong to the category based on accidental qualities that may be similar.

            • kessy_athena

              I didn’t know about Lysenkoism, thanks for telling me about it, Nope.

              I wouldn’t have described Taoism as empiricist, it gets pretty mystical. Although I’m really only familiar with the ancient texts, not with how Taoism has played out in Chinese society since then.

              I think that venturing into metaphysical territory is not a rejection of science. After all, religion by its nature deals with topics that haven’t been explored with the scientific method. At least to my mind, rejecting science means denying something that has been firmly established with evidence, observation, and experimentation. So denying evolution would qualify, discussing reincarnation would not.

              I think it’s also worth noting that attacks on science often seem to be motivated primarily by politics. Stalin didn’t like scientists because they had a nasty habit of thinking for themselves, and not always following the party line. Even with Evangelicals and creationism, I think it’s really more about the people doing the science, rather then the science itself. My impression is that those folks perceive the scientific community as being run by secularists and atheists, people directly opposed to the Evangelical community. And with the amount of influence science has on politics, economics, and pretty much every other aspect of contemporary life, I think the Evangelicals see it as the enemy having power over them.

              I see this sort of behavior as really political and social in nature, not religious. It’s about rejecting the people who are most associated with a set of beliefs, not the beliefs themselves.

            • FO

              True true true.
              To clarify:
              1) I don’t have SO many problems with Communism as an ideal, I just think it’s not really practical.
              2) I am not serious about redefining “religion”, because I believe that meaning comes from use, so whatever; “Religion” per se is not a very well defined word and means many things to different people.

              Thing is, I get pissed when Communism is thrown as an example of why Atheists are evil while historical Communism has so much more in common with religion than with the godless movement.

              Anyway, I would not be very wrong to say that the cult of the Dear Leader is the de facto state religion of North Korea.
              And neither I would be so wrong to say that Football is a religion for many.
              If they had a book with the Truth in it, I’d definitely include them in the Religions.

              And yes, Kessy, I dislike football fanaticism just as I dislike religion and for the very same reasons.

            • Theory_of_I


              “I see this sort of behavior as really political and social in nature, not religious.”

              Any science that conflicts with the creationists’ literal reading of the bible is blasphemy. They demonize evolutionists as unbelievers generally, even though not all are, in an effort to discredit and denounce the validity of their work because it invalidates biblical claims and, by implication, the fundamentlist’s beliefs.

              They have little or no problem with science disciplines that do not contradict their beliefs. They happily use the products, processes and systems scientists (without questioning their beliefs) have discovered and developed, without a murmur of discontent because they don’t have to defend their religion.

            • kessy_athena

              @FO: I lived in a college town imaginatively named State College for six years, and when I was there there was this popular shirt that read, “State College: A Drinking Town with a Football Problem.” Trust me, you’re preaching to the choir when it comes to sports nuts. ;)

              @Theory: I’m not saying that religion has nothing to do with it, I just think the primary motivation is just an Us vs Them mentality. After all, how often do you see young Earth creationists going after old Earth creationists? From the young Earther’s point of view, wouldn’t old Earth creationism still be blasphemy? I think that it’s primarily about going after the perceived enemy, and evolution just happens to be the most convenient avenue of attack.

            • FO

              Ken Ham DOES bitch and whine against old Earth creationists.

  • Reverend Robbie

    I was concerned that the length of JohnMWhite’s post was an indication that he would ramble, but he was spot on with his analysis of several parts of this interview. The part that struck me the most, though, was the complete disaster of a question that the interviewer presents at 2:15 to 2:45. It’s an incoherent piece of editorial attempting to connect violence to atheism and shift the interview in a completely irrelevant direction. Really, what are the qualifications to be a Fox anchor?

    • kessy_athena

      Simple – be a blond attractive female and be willing to say whatever they tell you to, no matter how stupid, ridiculous, or offensive it may be.

  • Steanie

    That clip reminds me so much of The Onion. I laughed out loud at how seriously they take themselves and their (unintentionally hilarious) comments.

  • Lurker111

    “The Nones are Taking Over!” … their rulers raised, ready to bash knuckles!

    Oh, that’s -nuns-.


    “We don’t teach some man made creed. We teach the bible”…… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

  • Robster

    I thought the christians and the jews don’t like each other coz the christians believe in the baby jesus, holey ghost thing and the rest of the tripe while the jews (I’ve read) do not. I’m told the baby jesus was a jew anyway, a magic one at that, so perhaps they can get along. Bit like the muzzis and the jesus’s getting into bed together. Not gonna happen.