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America: A Less Christian, More Atheist Nation

Have you ever wondered to yourself why the voices declaring that “America is a Christian Nation!” seem to be getting louder and louder in recent years? Wonder no longer. Results from the latest American Religious Identification Survey are out. I invite you to read the full report, but this table extrapolating from the representative survey to the adult population tells most of the story:

ARIS Results from 1990 to 2001 to 2008: Fewer Christians, More Nonreligious

Those voices are shouting more loudly about America’s supposed Christian nature because they are insecure: America is becoming less Christian. More than 34 million Americans indicated they have no religion. Only 70% of Americans report belief in a God.

When it comes to religious behavior (not just self-professed religious identification), only 71% of adults report undergoing religious initiation like baptism or a bar mitzvah. Only 69% of adults who’ve been married report that their marriage was a religious one. This last statistic undercuts the argument of theocrats who want to make same-sex marriage illegal on the basis of some imagined religious marriage tradition. As these latest ARIS results show, Americans’ marriages are often irreligious.

In case you watched one of those election-mailer DVDs and are wondering about the “Muslim invasion” of America, well, herm: Muslims make up just 0.6% of the adult population in the United States. Some invasion.

9 comments to America: A Less Christian, More Atheist Nation

  • Tom

    Um…See The Bios for the two Directors in charge of the Survey.

    Yea… it’s like James Dobson doing a survey to see the value of Christianity in American Life. Think there is a skew in the results? Progressive secularists, both of them. Spin the results, taint the questions. Either way The results are manufactured to promote an agenda. Mother Earth should be insulted with her carbon based children’s bad behavior.

    Dr. Barry A. Kosmin is the Founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and
    Culture (ISSSC) and Research Professor, Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College. A sociologist,
    Dr. Kosmin has been a principal investigator of many large national social surveys in Europe, Africa, Asia
    and the U.S. including the 1990 National Survey of Religious Identification, the American Religious
    Identification Surveys of 2001 and 2008 and the recent Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists-India
    2007-08 (http://www.worldviewsofscientists.org).

    Dr. Ariela Keysar, a demographer, is Associate Professor, Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College
    and the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. She is a
    principal investigator of the American Religious Identification Survey 2008 and the recent Worldviews
    and Opinions of Scientists-India 2007-08. Dr. Keysar was the Study Director of the American Religious
    Identification Survey 2001. She is the co-author, Religion in a Free Market: Religious and Non-Religious
    Americans, Paramount Market Publications, Ithaca, N.Y., 2006.

  • Jim

    Do you have proof or evidence that the results are manufactured to promote an agenda?

    Have you even looked at the methodological section of the report? Here’s the question:

    “What is your religion, if any?”

    WOW! How BIASED!

  • qs

    I think the religious Right strengthens the political Right’s antigovernment lobbying efforts. I a sense a less religious nation could end up being a more Statist nation, which could spell disaster.

    “Rothbard wrote for conservative Christian publications in the early 1950s and onward because he saw in Christianity a devotion to law and morality, not of state but of transcendent origin. Early memos even have Rothbard praising Catholicism for its implicit universalist anarchism as opposed to the nationalist-statist strains in Protestant history. Moreover, Rothbard showed how the demands of the rank-and-file Christian Right were mostly libertarian: keep government out of our churches, families, communities, and schools. Even today, libertarians have yet to understand the potential for strategic alliances here.”

  • Holly Miller

    Gods don’t exist. If they did they’d be pretty poor gods; having all that power at their fingertips yet not bothering to intervene in human affairs-specifically gods don’t intervene in situations where children are imperiled. If I were a god, which I am not, I would try my utmost to protect children from harm. I don’t have any problem with stating that I am better than god. If by some wierd chance there actually is a universe that has gods in it, those gods are woefully inadequate. Truly thoughtful people know better. Gods don’t exist. If I were a god and had lots of power you damn betcha little children wouldn’t get abducted, raped, killed, ect. I’d also do something about starvation and plague. I’m not afraid of divine retribution because it isn’t real. Any god would have a lot of explaining to do. What kind of god would stand silently by while horrible things happen to little children? In this country we prosecute people who witness a crime and don’t do anything about it. If it got found out that I saw my next door neighbor abduct a girl child and then rape her repeatedly for a couple of days before burying her alive, and I did nothing to report it or to try to stop it, I would be a criminal. So why does god get a pass? It’s importent- vitally so- that we climb out of the past era of believing in gods and get together as people who are concerned about each other and other species with whom we share this beautiful and delicate planet. Belief in gods is a dangerous road; do we really want to go there? The world is enough.

  • Atheists and Gnostics are right in most of their thinking

    It has been common among religious believers to look with misgiving to atheists and Gnostics, and to think that they are mistaken; however, in many instances the opposite is the truth; some religious beliefs are not just irrelevant, but baseless. The “God” of main line traditions simply does not exist. I accepted the challenge of finding the One who may be recognized even by Gnostics and atheists: the Existence itself, “All-That-Is.” If something is there, that is God. Look at the book “Christianity Reformed From ist Roots – A life centered in God” (Amazon.com). I am confident that some of your friends will be relieved of the illusion, as I did myself.

    Jairo Mejia, M. Psych., Santa Clara University
    Retired Episcopal Priest
    Carmel Valley, California


  • Colliedog

    “In God We Trust”…Might be worth voting about:


  • Atticus Finch

    The study is not really complete, and the comments appear to be exercising an opportunity to attack Christianity in particular, rather than looking at whether or not people belong to a religion or believe in God. I would suggest a more unbiased study, such as that conducted by the Pew Trust. Its report is viewable at http://religions.pewforum.org/reports.

    According to their study Christians make up 78.4% of the US population currently. This includes Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses (although some do not consider the last two groups to be true Christians).

    There are, of course, many non-Christian religions, such as Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhism, and others. These faiths make up 4.7% of the population currently. That would indicate 83.8% of the population which believes in God. I did not see in the proposed puff legislation where is said that Americans believed only in a Christian God.

    Atheists are 1.6% of the population. These are the only ones who specifically deny the existence of God.

    Agnostics, by definition, are those who are undecided about the existence of God. They comprise 2.4% of the population. If all of them became Atheists, they would only be 4% of the population.

    12.1% were unafiliated with any religion or secular group. This does not mean they don’t believe in God, but more likely that they don’t believe in any particular organized religion, or that they simply have not given the matter any thought.

    Only .8% refused to answer or “don’t know.”

    The founding fathers were believers in God. Many of them were deists, which would land them in the unaffiliated category. Benjamin Franklin himself is the one who made the motion that every session of Congress should begin with a prayer. Never has there been a requirement that it be a “Christian Prayer.” Many of the chaplains have been sensitive to this fact.

    By the way, bystanders who observe criminal acts being committed are not charged themselves with crimes, unless they are within one of the narrow specifically defined classes charged with a duty of mandatory reporting.

    One last tidbit. During WWII the Japanese interviewed prisoners of war. Those that had no express belief in God were assigned, generally, to minimum security prisoner of war camps, from which no one ever escaped. Those who expressed religious affiliations or strong belief in God were placed in the maximum security prisons, and frequently did escape. There is much to be said for those who serve a higher power greater than themselves and outside of themselves. “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” (Robert Browning).

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_States

    It gets even more interesting when you break down into demographics.

    By Generation
    Younger Millennials 34%
    Older Millennials 30%
    GenXers 21%
    Boomers 15%
    Silent 9%
    Greatest 5%

    By Gender
    Men 23%
    Women 17%

    By Race
    White 20%
    Hispanic 16%
    Black 15%

    It is too much to list by each state, but Ill just say it is as much as 34% in Vermont and as little as 5% in Mississippi or 1% in the Northern Mariana Islands if you want to include non states as well.

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