The Task Before Us

The Task Before Us July 9, 2013

The survey data over the last few years shows that an increasing percentage of Americans consider themselves non-religious and a new poll from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (hat tip: A-News) finds that almost half of Americans consider this to be a negative thing:

About half of Americans say the growing number of “people who are not religious” is bad for American society. But a similar share say either that this trend is good or that it does not make much difference, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center…

The new, nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life asked Americans whether having “more people who are not religious” is a good thing, a bad thing, or doesn’t matter for American society. Many more say it is bad than good (48% versus 11%). But about four-in-ten (39%) say it does not make much difference. Even among adults who do not identify with any religion, only about a quarter (24%) say the trend is good, while nearly as many say it is bad (19%); a majority (55%) of the unaffiliated say it does not make much difference for society.

So how do we change the prevailing opinion and turn those percentages around? The same way that the LGBT community has had such success doing so over the last 10-15 years, by being out and proud. For most, this is almost certainly a soft, squishy bit of bigotry based on ignorance rather than a deep-seated hatred or distrust of the non-religious. And many other polls have shown that this process has already begun, that the trends are already in the right direction. As more and more people come out as non-believers, more and more of that 48% will come to recognize the common humanity simply because they will then know that they know someone who is not religious.

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