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Europeans: How does religion in the US look to you?

I know my European readers are awake now, so I thought I’d target a question toward you. It’s the least I can do – I tend to be very US-centric sometimes.
So here’s a basic question for a bit of an open forum. How does religion in the US look to you? Does the American atheist movement seem odd, understandable, necessary? How does your particularly country compare to us, or the countries around you in terms of religious belief?

…I guess that was still sort of a US-centric question. Obviously you all must care about our going ons, even though I have no idea what’s going on on that side of the world. America, woo.

…Humor me, please. So tired.

This is post 40 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Comments

  1. Guy Fletcher-Wood says

    Religion in the USA seems terrifying, and the shadowy reflection of it that we get on this side of the Atlantic is troubling because of how it tries to be the same…Atheism in the US is inspiring, to me personally anyway. It’s often a subject of apathy to people over here (UK), because it’s pretty much a social default.As an out atheist in the UK I face more conversion attempts from the religious people I know, but no real social discrimination.

  2. Viktor says

    I am Swedish, and atheist, but I speak only for myself.I think we are more used to religion being present, and perhaps have an easier time accepting it as a formality and tradition. In Sweden over 80% of the population are members of the church of Sweden, but the level of religiousness is extremely low. . Politicians almost never speak of faith here and christian leaders do not have much power.I think we often view some of your fights as somewhat petty, for the reason that our religion has very little power, so we can more easily allow it to have token influence. Even if I think we fundamentally agree with you.Your religion just looks scary and fanatical, and has the kind of influence on society that it never should have! This is ironical because one of the big drivers when Swedes emigrated to the US was that you had freedom of religion while we had a state-church that was intimately entwined with the government apparatus. Until the 70s we had a dedicated cabinet minister of the church and the church didn’t become totally separate until the year 2000!Well, those are some of the points, I have never tried to put words to this before.

  3. Shan says

    I can’t speak for Europeans – but as a New Zealander religion in the USA pretty much comes across as a big scary problem. The athesit movement doesn’t seem odd at all…I’d be worried if it DIDN’T exist.

  4. Jake says

    In Britain theres a sense that anyone who wears their religion on their chest is rather unstable.When I was in secondary school someone mentioned that they were christian, another classmate asked if he really believed that stuff and he answered in the positive. Then an embarassed silence fell over the room and people moved the topic on.Maybe it was the free university education our parents have had since the 1960-70′s that has propelled us, Britain at least, into non-belief.

  5. says

    Australian here, rather than European, but…Religion in the US looks crazy-scary-bonkers, but I try to remind myself that the ones we see from this far are the more extreme, and that there are plenty of rather more moderate people over there too.  It’s just such a pity that the crazies have captured the Republicans so effectively on social policy…We have our own US-style Christian nutters here but they are — thank Eris! — not so numerous that our politicians feel the need to pander to them unduly.

  6. April says

    Disclosure: I’m in Australia, not Europe.However, religion in the US looks freaky, terrifying and hilarious – sometimes by turns, sometimes all at once.To me, that evolution is controversial is probably the most unbelievable, closely followed by the horror of non-religious people. Our own Prime Minister is an avowed atheist, and religion in politics, while it does exist, is widely considered a joke. When our Opposition Leader tries to bring up banning mifepristone or his fear of Teh Gheys, the press calls him the Mad Monk. I’m really enjoying reading back through your blogathon posts, Jen – only just logged on so I have lots of entertainment to catch up on! Now excuse me while I ChipIn….

  7. says

    Religion in north america seems to be a throwback to the 12th century. As an Irishman, we were all Catholics on paper, but in reality I knew no-one of my own generation that I’d consider even vaguely ‘religious’. If anyone had said ‘let’s open with a prayer’, they would (at best) have been uncomfortably tolerated or (at worst) openly mocked for idiocy. (this is in the past tense as I left Ireland in 2006, and am currently in Japan)My brothers and I never understood the “Catholic guilt” that American TV kept telling us that we were supposed to have, and the whole ‘super-church’ (with the constant focus on going to hell) terrified and appalled me, even when I was fervently religious (10-12) and seriously considering the possibility of going to seminary.When I met Christians in the US and Canada, I was appalled at how often they either hadn’t read the bible, or would intentionally lie about what was in the bible. My (extremely Catholic) granny never shied from that stuff (genocide, rape, murder), though she had her own rationalisations for it.There is *absolutely* a need for the atheist movement, if for no other reason to say “you do not represent us. You do not speak for us. You do not decide for us.”. The general silence of a crowd is taken as homogeneity of the crowd. This needs to be fought against.’All that’s necessary for evil to prosper is for good people to stand by and do nothing’ is something that is perpetually on my mind.

  8. says

    I’m from New Zealand &  live in Australia.  I’ve debated on religious forums on Hubpages (which have a lot of religionists from the US).  I’d agree  with Shan the religious nutters in the US come across as scary, particularly the bible belt.  Some atheists that live in the bible belt said they get death threats etc.

  9. pete084 says

    Writing as a British person from the Untied Kingdom, I look in utter amazement at all the different factions of the same religion trying to out do each other in their piousness, then there is the televangelism con merchants with their blatantly obvious aim of self enrichment…….. of the bank account. Coming, as I do, from an increasingly secular nation I wonder why all those crooks and nut jobs are allowed to get away with their acts of criminality.Why we have fewer religious cranks I’m at a loss to explain, but it could be a lot to do with your shorter history, after all we did manage to send boat loads of religious across the pond a few hundred years ago when we started to get wise to the damage religion was doing over here.I used to look on in utter amusement, then came the electric interweb and an untold wealth of crazies filled my screen, which opened my eyes to such idiots as Fred Phelps, now I worry that the very same expansion of communications media has spread the lunacy back over here, we now have our own creation museum… sob!Thankfully we have a very strong secularist movement here, with the British Humanist Association at the forefront of freedom from religion, fighting to remove the automatic privileges bestowed upon the Church of England, with 26 Bishops sitting, unelected, in our upper house, and exemption from the ‘Equalities Act’.To summerise, I personally look on with a mix of amusement and horror at the things religious groups and individuals are allowed to get away with in Uncle Sam’s back yard.

  10. Kurt1 says

    Well i grew up as the son of a pastor in germany. Thats why at first, it was a bit hard to get around the more aggressive american atheists like pz. Religion as i encountered it in my child and teenage years is way less loud and shrill as most religious groups in america. There are few people calling scientists liars or denying evolution or global warming, and few people tend to take the bible literally.  I wasn´t forced to go to church every sunday and always encouraged to think critically and to learn more. With that backstory out of the way: Religion in america looks as insane as islam in the middle east.  Everyone has to cope with the reality he lives in, but these people don´t cope, they cover their eyes and pretend to live in some kind of imaginare parallel world, where all of their believes make perfect sense.

  11. says

    Interesting question. I am German, have lived in the UK for a few years, and have got into the UK and US skeptical movement a while ago. I haven’t lived in the US, though, so all my impressions are from afar. I had discussions on this very topic with a number of people over the years. A few ad hoc ramblings…In comparison to at least Northern Europe, the US gives a very religious / Christian impression, though also a very fragmented one. All those different denominations, small churches, some mainstream, some weird. Religion appears to play a much larger role in life and politics in the US than in Germany (considering that the current Pope is German), and even less in the UK or Scandinavia.For example, top of my head, I couldn’t tell you for any German politician whether s/he is a Protestant, Catholic, or atheist. And people would only care so little. That is not to say that Christian values don’t play a role in Northern European politics, but religion is definitely less *salient* here.As hinted at, I felt that this was even more the case in the UK than in Germany. Religion doesn’t really matter, unless someone promotes something *in the name of religious belief*. Depending on what this is, there will certainly a debate, one way or the other. Sure, we have our public discussions on pedophile priests, groups rally against mosques built in their neighbourhood, politicians bring up religious reasons in political debate, and the churches try to influence policy. Still, I at least get the impression that most European discussions on religion are issue-based, while in the US it seems to play a much larger role as part of everyday life. So I think I “get” the US atheist movement, and also why discussions about atheism in the context of skepticism is almost always arising from *US* skeptics. Someone once told me that because atheism was so against “US culture”, many US atheists found like-minded people in the skeptics movement first, and a public atheist movement only appeared later.Also, the vehemence with that the US atheist movement often argues, makes sense given the strength of the religious side. For Europeans, it may seem a bit too much sometimes, but only because religion is less of a daily topic here.

  12. ThriftyBat says

    I’m from the UK, too, and the big contrast that strikes me is how people almost go out of their way to keep religion private here in the UK, whereas in the US it seems to be the default position to broadcast one’s piety.Assuming the subject doesn’t arise during conversation, it’s possible to get to know a person quite well without having any idea if they’re religious. It doesn’t seem to me that religion is as big a factor in informing political beliefs in the UK, although of course we do have a socially conservative fundamentalist presence.We do, however, have significant trouble with the separation of church and state (constitutionally, unlike the US – but also pragmatically, much like the US). In the House of Lords, our upper house of Parliament and essentially equivalent to the US Senate (although much less powerful), there are (I think?) 6 seats explicitly reserved for unelected bishops. In practice, these guys don’t often vote, but they are allowed to and have exercised this prerogative in relation to legislation aimed particularly at social objectives. The current coalition government has proposed to extend the number of seats reserved for religious representatives, and to include senior figures from other religions, presumably in the name of “multiculturalism”, although our current Prime Minister would repudiate that framing.As well, our government funds faith schools, which is one of the main focuses of the humanist movement in the UK. By the way, atheist concerns are generally rolled into the humanist movement here.

  13. benjaminsa says

    Currently in Sweden, and from a anecdotal highly personal view atheism/theism just isn’t an issue.  The only hints of religion I have experienced are the church bells on Sunday (hearing them right now), the occasional crucifix jewellery. That is it. No one talks about it, cares about it. All the atheist material I read/listen to is American. From this perspective it looks almost entirely reactionary.

  14. Becs says

    As a Brit who has lived in the US for the last two years I can say it is scary and my UK friends agree. I’m in the UK now on holiday and is great to see  so much atheistic comedy on TV core networks, the atheist voice is much less controversial than in the US.  In the UK as an atheist you don’t feel it’s such a big fight as it is in the US. What people in the UK don’t always realise is how, despite the US having separation of Church and State and the UK having an established Church of England and  Monarch who is Head of that church, religion has more influence on policy in the US than in the UK.   When you’re in the US you don’t hear the atheist voice so casually expressed, Ricky Gervais’ opinions on religion for example hardly raise an eyebrow in the UK. Most people I’ve spoken to here in the UK think the US is totally nuts when it comes to religion. A friend said to me just last night that the American Religious are as fundamental in the their beliefs as the Taliban.You will never hear a politician  utter the words, “God Bless the UK” or quote from the bible, Tony Blair kept his faith quiet for a reason, in his own words people would have considered him a ‘Nutter’, the Deputy Prime Minister in the UK is an atheist and so is the leader of the opposition, can’t imagine that happening in the US any time soon.The extent of the religious influence in the US does put me off staying there, which is strange when you consider the reasons that people originally settled the country.

  15. says

    *raises hand* Also from Australia, and I had this discussion with my fundamentalist Christian friend once. He couldn’t understand why atheism felt the need to be a united, vocal ‘movement’ and we argued intensely about it until we realised where we weren’t connecting – he was looking at atheism in the context of Australian religiosity (which is rather less insane than the US), whereas I do most of my reading about atheism through blogs. My view of the problems of religion come through more of an international/US-centric prism. Yep, religion in the US is fucking insane. However, some Australians will point to the US and say “see, at least we’re not that bad!” in order to be apathetic about religious problems in Australia, like  the government funding of unqualified chaplains in public schools, or the teaching of religion in schools, or the fact that our atheist Prime Minister opposes gay marriage for no other reason to appease our own religious right… bah.(Julia Gillard announced her opposition to gay marriage within the same week as publicly announcing her atheism. It was a shameless bone thrown to the Australian Christian Lobby, which was depressing, because it meant I couldn’t fully celebrate having an atheist for PM.)

  16. pete084 says

    I have to agree with the part about religion in America looking s insane as in some Islamic countries, we see TV footage of fundies getting hot under the collar, firing guns in the air and screaming at cameras. It was a few years back when I made the comparison between the footage of US loonies rejoicing at the destruction of Iraq, it is usually the religious who take patriotism beyond reasonable.And on another point, George W Bush frightened the crap out of me, if anyone was going to kick World War III off it was him.

  17. Jeremy Carroll says

    I’m Irish, born and raised, moved to the US when I was 18…The religious culture in Ireland, when I was growing up (and it seems to be similar today) was one of apathetic obligation. People attended church once in awhile because they felt like they had to but they weren’t going to put much effort in beyond that. Everyone was presumed to be Catholic and you were labeled as being odd if you drew attention to you religiousness/non-religiousness.Religion in the US is just creepy. There doesn’t seem to be any difference between religions/sects that are very noteworthy but the religious people certainly make a big deal about the non-noteworthy differences. Anyone can believe crazy things, there doesn’t seem to be a point in announcing your attachment to those crazy beliefs but it seems like most people want to do just that. The words ‘praise jesus’, and their like, are horrifying because they highlight an irrationality that should be scorned rather than embraced. The atheist movement seems overboard when viewed by itself. Why bother to continually spout the obvious? Rationality should be the norm. Sadly it is not and so when the atheist movement is viewed next to the overabundant religiousness in the US then I see it as a necessarily thing – a levy of scientific thought against the sea of ridiculous belief.

  18. says

    Another UK perspective: the impact religion has on your your society is terrifying. At least here it’s given that what religion you are doesn’t matter (although we do have rising Islamophobia). That being said the Atheist movement over there I think is echoed over here as well, though, it’s not as big. The UK has a strange hangover from times past that gives religion a strangely loud voice. E.g. despite fewer than 10% of the population attending church religious leaders often get asked for opinions on legislation on the pretext that they ‘speak for their community’ (what our MPs do I don’t know….)Oh and we still give positions in the House of Lords (our second chamber) to Bishops for no reason other than tradition….I guess for me I look at religion in the US and worry that that is where we are heading (the UK having a bad habit of following the US). In a way I hope we start echoing China and become more secular rather, than as the current trend seems to be, more religious.

  19. Tom Catterall says

    Sadly our politicians remain Christian though it’s not on many voters’ agendas. The only open atheist I know of in UK politics is deputy PM Nick Clegg. Which is quite sad.

  20. QoB says

    Irish person here. Gotta agree with the other commenters and say that in the USA, religion seems to have a giant stranglehold on the political process: one of your two (!  only two!) political parties capitulates to religious extremists at every opportunity, and the other one seems to. It’s scary. And I say this as a citizen of a country where Catholicism has had a giant influence for centuries, most hospitals and schools are Catholic-run, divorce was only legalised in the 1990′s and abortion is still illegal (small shameless plug – I did a brief series on it here: http://persephonemagazine.com/….

  21. oli groom says

    i’m form new zealand When i started to read about the us atheist movement  (about 2ys ago, im 19 now) i thought it was very strange because its considered normal being non religious over here and most theists are quite “sensible” i.e they keep it to them selves. its considered very rude to prosthelytize and people who do are laughed at/ridiculed even by other believers.So (Christian) america looks like a lunatic asylum / De-facto theocracy with more than its fair share of complete fucking morons.

  22. Marie-anne Duhem says

    In Belgium, with lots of North African immigrants, we are frightened  of Muslim fanatics. Older people are still catholic, younger people catholic for the show (weddings, baptisms…), but again ‘educated’ people are mostly atheist. The American people I have met had all been to college/university and were either very mildly religious or not at all.However the idea I have of American religious families is that bigoted, even scary in its bigotry and very commercial. (The bigotry part I have with all religions.)We had an item on TV showing the extreme in American religion, which I believe is a caricature of what many people see. If you feel like it, this is the link: http://video.canvas.be/louis-t

  23. says

    I live in Sweden (in the “Swedish Bible Belt” no less!) and can confirm that there are way fewer pressures on people to be outwardly religious here.  Belief or the lack thereof is seen as a *private* matter and not something to shove in other people’s faces. I was at a church dinner one sunday when someone asked me if I belonged to a church and I replied that no, I am not an atheist but organized religion and I parted ways long ago. Then I explained that I grew-up in the American Bible Belt and the poor Swedes’ eyes got big and they exclaimed, “oh, we understand!”

  24. Comrade Stokesi says

    Personally, I think it’s bananas. I lived in the Middle East for ten years as well as Europe, and holy shit, sometimes I think you guys in some of the states that keep rolling out these religious based bills are five to ten years away from repeating what happened in Iran in 1979. Obviously I’m exaggerating, but it’s worrying how the brand of crazy that I used to associate with the US has been moved over to Europe.

  25. says

    U.S. religiosity has so many facets that I find it difficult to give an answer that covers them all. It’s certainly much more diverse than in Europe. What I find creepy is that fringe views tend to dominate the religious debate in the public and that moderate religion finds it so hard to counter extremist elements. The result is that religion in politics is nearly always extremist, a situation that is quite similar to many islamic countries.

  26. says

    As a Brit I would have to agree with most of the above,especially Becs. It is perfectly possible to get to know someone and not know they arereligious. For example, in my third year of university I made friends with agirl who was in a few of my classes and we’d go out for lunch and coffee acouple of times a week. One day over lunch I happened to mention I had beenreading about Creationists in the USA and, to roughly paraphrase, their crazybeliefs. Her facial expressions suddenly changed and then it all came out, shewas a member of a small religious group in Glasgow, UK who believed that theearth was only 6,000 years old. Perhaps naively, or perhaps justifiably, I wasblown away by this news from her. How could someone who came across so ‘normal’believe this nonsense and here, in the UK?!She then went on to try to convince me why she believed this. I offered to takeher to university museum and show her some fossils but apparently thescientists had just ‘gotten it wrong’ and going there would prove nothing. Imade my excuses and left. That perhaps sums up the general British view on religion. In my experienceextremists are treated with dismay, like in my situation, and, quite frankly,they are usually compartmentalised into the weirdo box. Very rarely are theytaken seriously. We’re just not used to it.

  27. Comrade Stokesi says

    But just a thought I had before clicking off the page, you guys also take atheism really really seriously. Like, very serious. Everything outwardly is very polarised. It isn’t, I know that from reading around and you know, actually being myself. My brand of atheism is like Greta Christina’s mixed in with a bunch of, ‘Eh, don’t mind what people are into, have another beer’. I don’t really think that fits in well to an American mindset, because there’s always got to be American exceptionalism in there coupled with ‘Either you’re with us or against us’. Man, everyone seemed to adopt that idea as phrase for everything after the last decade. After Elevatorgate (why is any scandal labelled with gate at the end now? We should be more original) my opinions have changed again and I’d be worried if I ever turned up to an event that because I am more chilled yet call people out on their douchebaggery, I’d get shouted down for not being one of the guys who take it very very seriously. Again, with us or against us. Is is also true of a lot of the religious sects who make themselves public in the USA.I think with regards to the majority of the population that are born again or protestant or otherwise it’s very easy to have a cognitive dissonance. The ‘Anal isn’t sex’ meme came to mind there. When the catholic New Zealander at school mentioned it I think I laughed and said something like, ‘Honey, that’s sex, don’t bullshit me. So’s oral. You can get STDs and everyone can orgasm from both of those.’ That pissed him off. I also had to explain why anal can get women off, which is another story. Having gay friends when they moved back to the USA or the UK stopped a lot of the stupid as well as they were suddenly confronted with how basically none of what they’d been told matched up with what they friends did or were.Anyway, that’s my rambly two pence.

  28. Felicia says

    InSweden it’s really common not to believe in God. Acctually, peopleare more surprised if you tell them that you do than if you tell themthat you don’t. I stopped believing in God around the same time Istopped believing in Santa and it was never wierd that I didn’tbelieve in God because everybody else didn’t either. People still go to church (weddings, baptisms, funerals) and they still celebrate Christmas and Easter etc. but much more because it’s tradition and not because they believe in God. So I was really surprised when I realized that people inother countries got bullied and discriminated against for beingatheists.Althoughswedes aren’t as religious as americans, there are still a lot ofswedes that believe in other stuff like alternative medicine or thatall vaccins are bad for you or magic and ghosts and what not. So even though we may not have to battlereligious people in the same way as you do, we still need to battleignorance in Sweden as well (although perhaps not in the same extentas you guys).Anyway,keep up the good work. Both with the blogathon and in the atheist movement.

  29. Rosa Rubicondior says

    In the UK we generally assume that anyone who makes a public spectacle of the piety is either a shyster after our money, or someone who’s not taking their medication.It would be the kiss of death for any UK politician outside Northern Ireland  to display the sort of pompous piety in which US politician routinely wrap themselves.I think most people here view US fundamentalism with a mixture of amusement and horror.  It’s amusing until we realise that these nutter have nukes and believe their invisible friend is waiting for the right time to come and kill everyone who disagrees with them… and it’s their duty to help him.As Billy Connolly said, “If you went to a hospital for the feeble-minded and told them God was speaking to you, they wouldn’t let you go home to collect your pyjamas; in the USA they give you a television program and lonely people send you money”.Maybe the spectacle of US Christian evangelists so obviously fleecing the gullible and vulnerable is one of the drivers of our rapidly increasing atheism.  Long may that continue.

  30. says

    From my little mountaintop, religion in the US often looks so utterly insane it’s difficult to fathom why what appears to be but a handful of atheists don’t just pack up and leave, leaving the crazies to themselves.Yeah. That bad.

  31. Elin Nilsson says

    I live in the far south of Sweden (that sounds so dramatic!) and religion is not really present in the younger population. Going to church on Sunday is something the elders do. And sometimes not even that. There are ofc old churches everywhere and they’re beautiful to watch. It’s still very common to have school term ending ceremonies in it (for Christmas and summer holidays), but people are starting to complain about it being in the church. However it is still very common to baptise the children and when the children are baptised they automatically become a member of the Church of Sweden. Few do their Confirmation and it’s not that common to get married in church anymore (hey, even gays can get married in the church here!) and it’s possible to leave the Church of Sweden without any repricautions. But funeral and those things are easier for you relatives if you’re a member of the Church of Sweden, or at least so I heard I don’t know for sure.The only religion really present here is Islam, due to all the immigrants coming here, all the refugees. People complain about that too. Swedes like to complain but not do anything about it. American religion seems weird to me. How can a country like the US still be that religious? However I’m seriously disappointed in America, it has ceased to amaze me what the US does and what it meddles with. I just stopped caring. It’s not worth getting all worked up over the stupidity of the US. No offence.Next to us are Norway, where churches are closing down due to too few people visiting. Closest to me is Denmark and Denmark is similar to Sweden in many ways.I know Christians who claim to be faithful and they wear the cross around their necks, but they’ve never been to church just for the cause of it.

  32. says

    I’m from Germany, where religion is IMO treated in the same way cultural Jews treat theirs. So you might see how unsettling it is to read and listen to the hard religious right in the USA. It’s important to keep in mind that those people don’t see themselves as evil, but genuinely believe that they are right; and then they spout this misogynistic, xenophobic and medieval bullshit without any kind of self-awareness. And those people are a cornerstone of politics!It creeps me out, especially since the more evangelistic organizations are trying to build bridgeheads into our culture as well, especially when it comes to creationism and “ex-gay” therapy.Around here religion is somewhat more relaxed, if still seen as uncritical. It’s kind of annoying to see how religious organizations are having privileges: The government will collect taxes for you, you can run a lot of hospitals under your guidance, even if most money comes from the local government, and of course you have much room to discriminate in your hiring practice. A acquaintance of mine works in a RC-run kindergarten (which is the only kindergarten in the village, and still paid for by the state), and a couple of years ago she was told that her superiors found out that she’s ‘living in sin’ with her boyfriend. So she was given the choice of either being fired, moving into her own place or marrying hin. Since there was no way to find another job or living on your own with your meager salary she and him tied the knot. And that’s not just an isolated case, it happens every day. :-(

  33. says

    As everyone else has said, atheism is accepted in the UK, overt displays of piety are somewhat frowned upon.  I was a born-again christian growing up and struggled with a certain amount of anti-christian bullying – not from atheists, or people of other faiths; but just from people who didn’t care.  For this reason, I’m a little hesitant when I hear about people in other cultures making broad generalisations about the dominance of religion in public life.That said, religious ideas are increasingly given a free pass in the UK.  Also, in my lifetime there’s been an increasing flow of religious fundamentalism coming out of the US; creationism being a prime example.The only other thing that strikes me about the US is what appears to be a somewhat pedantic obsession with separation of church and state.  Obviously I understand this in principle, and I can see in practise when you have lots of anti-atheist sentiment in the US that it’s different, but whenever Hemant gets hot under the collar about a street sign, I can’t help furrowing my brow a little, simply because this kind of thing isn’t generally an issue over here.

  34. says

    Another german here. The great difference, I’d say, is the lack of a religious movement with a clear political agenda. Of course there are the usual issues, especially with the catholic church, and there are some sectarian (and highly entertaining) groups, but no real mass-movement behind it. (German catholic are infamous for an anti-vatican rebellious attitude.)Perhaps because of the tighter connections between the chruches and the states, perhaps because of the more lethargic religious atmosphere. And also, there is a certain amount of class and affinity to intellectualism the great two display. Theology is a thoroughly respected branch of study, there are no wingnut private universities … an argument for de-seperation of church and state? Probably not.In contrast, the few atheistic groups in germany appear much shriller in comparison. Attacks against organizes religion bear the stench of – dare I say it? – american brutish simplicity. It is … impolite.Something sweeps over the pond, though – and over the channel. Dawkins, Hitchens … they were disputed. (Intersting article in the Spiegel, a while ago, about the autors “catholic adventure”. Their criticism gets dismissed, see above, as too crass, too loud. Established german christianity – certainly not to be attacked at those uncivilisedterms.Islam is a different matter, but that problem intertwines with minority and cultural issues. And here too, attacks from the local right with a louder defenders-of-christian-occident – attitude are in the same way looked down upon …

  35. apenpaap says

    Religion in the USA seems almost as bad as religion in the middle east, seen from the other side of the ocean. I mean, one of your two major political parties seems essentially theocratic. I very much understand why atheist organisations are neccesary in America.

  36. says

    Religion in the US? Pretty much tied with the Middle East in terms of overall wackiness. I mean c’mon, 40% of you believe the Bible is the word of god! It’s like looking at an island of kids who will believe in Santa. Except the kids have nuclear missiles…(FYI – until recently I was dating a fundamentalist Christian girl from the Twin Cities whom I met while teaching in Thailand. Now that was an education.)

  37. says

    I live in Poland, which from the outside may look like it’s full of as many religious wackos as the US. However, in Poland Catholicism has more to do with tradition and nationhood than it does with faith. During communist times, belonging to the (forbidden) church was a sign of protest against the authorities, so people were proud to be Catholic, and that sense of pride has remained long after the yoke of Russia fell away. That’s why 95% of Poles still identify as Catholic on paper – however, if you look in a church on Sunday, it’s mostly full of old ladies, especially in the bigger cities.You should also know that there is an ever-growing atheist and sceptic movement in Poland (I’m a proud member), that’s mostly opposed to the amount of power and political privilege the Catholic Church still enjoys in the country. We had the first ever atheist march in Europe in Krakow two years ago.

  38. says

    What I find queer about the USA’s religions? To me, the fascination the USA has with the extreme of Christianity is disturbing. It’s not a good way to go. But what I find weirder in particular is the unofficial religion of firearms. Woe betide anyone who declares that “they don’t believe firearms  are the way to produce a safe society”. I had an amusing little incident where a thread about harassment of University of Florida biologists by Negotiation is Over (who are apparently now supported by Anonymous) went into concealed carry with me stating that I have criticised NIO and the Animal Liberation movement before, they are just a couple of people rather than a large movement. They will get bored and leave when they run out of funding. Guns won’t protect you from the harassment since responding to having paint thrown over you with a firearm doesn’t make you look like a victim, it makes you look like someone with poor impulse control. This spiralled into a tirade about the UK and how I am a racist due to the UK’s association with colonialism. (Yes I am a self hating british indian!). This revalation lead into a bunch of attacks on India itself. I had to quietly point out that a nation of a billion people living in third world conditions is a poor comparison to one of the richest nations per capita. (I could resist throwing down the fact that India’s murder rate is lower than the USA’s) The unofficial religion of the USA is the Cult of the Gun. The gun is good and the penis is bad! (as we all know!)

  39. R. says

    Dutchman here.Most people I know are atheists, or at least not a member of any particular faith (vaguely spiritual ‘there is probably -something- out there’ kind of people). Even the ones who describe themselves as, for example, catholic generally aren’t churchgoing and couldn’t give a shit about what the Vatican/pope says or thinks. They all support gay marriage, reproductive rights,  secular government, etc. In recent years though, thanks to a massively damaging combination of cultural relativism and immigration from Islamic nations, religion and it’s ability to demand ‘respect’ seem to be making a comeback. Sadly, rather than oppose this, the Christians have taken the opportunity to ride the Muslim coattails and demand more respect for their religion as well. For example; rather than saying it’s ridiculous that a museum has to remove a painting that features pigs, as to not offend Muslim sensitivities, they instead suggest we all try and be more ‘respectful’. My personal fear is that we’re actually moving towards a more prominent role for religion, which is terrifying as fuck. tldr; I look at religion in the US as an example of just how fucked up things could get over here.

  40. Verukins says

    another Aussie here – and tend to agree with the other posters – what we see of American religion is placard waving nutters waving “god hates fags” signs – and the power the religion seems to have on your political power brokers is incredibly frightening.We have the same over here – but their (political) inluence appears to be substantially less, but along the same lines…. gays are evil, euthanasia is evil, abortion is evil… basically any type of free choice that doesnt result in churches getting more money and power, they dont like.As far as athiest organisations… flat out, your blog and the links i found from it stopped me from completely wirting off america as a lost cause. We know that not everyone in America is a religious war-mongering zealot who votes for an half-wit president and wants to invade countries for their oil….  but so much of the footage and news we see out of America is just flat out scary….  the impression that the US is a nation of loonies is re-enforced constantly

  41. says

    Indeed, politicians in this country are actively encouraged by their advisers not to flash their religion around. Speaking for myself as a Scot who grew up in a town of 14,000 people, I only ever knew the wishy-washy type religious people. We had eight churches in my town that were never full and acted more as a social meeting place for older folks. Most people my age only went through obligation to their parents. The RE teachers at our school were batshit crazy, even the religious kids avoided them – probably didn’t help.Religion + politics in the US terrifies me somewhat. We only have a few of that lot and they’re fluffy and cuddly compared to many of yours (anti-abortion except in serious cases, anti-death penalty, pro(ish)-gay rights).EDIT: I only watch freeview channels and it’s mostly the Beeb at that, but there’re very few raging religious types on even the political panel shows like Question Time. You have to go looking for religion – also things like Sky News which Murdoch was desperate to be the British Fox have to abide by impartiality laws (not that I have Sky, don’t know how well they achieve that).And another: It is slightly worrying that in the aim of ‘multiculturalism’ the atheist Deputy Prime Minister here is trying to appoint more religious, unelected members to the House.

  42. Natja says

    One word, crazy…..I really don’t know that many openly religious people in the UK, even the Muslims I know are pretty laid back and they are the group most often accused of being more religious than the average UK citizen.  On the whole I can go months in the UK without once hearing a Brit say Jesus, in America I am lucky if I go a day without hearing it at least once.

  43. says

    We tend to use it as a form of swearing mainly. Like “Ah Jesus! You scared me!”Which is weird, even I use it despite it having no actual connotations as an ex-hindu.

  44. says

    Off the top of my head: Caroline Lucas (leader – E&W) and Patrick Harvie (co-convenor – Scotland) of the Green Party, Ed Miliband (leader of the opposition, culturally Jewish), David Miliband, Nick Clegg (DPM), Michael Cashman (Labour), Ken Livingston (Labour, former Mayor of London), Neil Kinnock’s agnostic, Baroness Flather (Tory) of the BHA is atheist, as is Alistair Campbell (Labour). I’m sure there are more.

  45. Hanna says

    I’m also a Swede, and as all the other Swedes I agree that religion is just not an issue here. I would say we have a culture of privacy, and most Swedes are very hard to get close to. Religion as well as politics is viewed as a private matter, not something you discuss. Even during election years you only talk politics with friends whom you know well enough and very cautiously with anyone else. We’re really good at small talk though! I would say that most Swedes are well informed about religion. We have to study religion as part om elementary school including junior high school. We study all the five world religions, as well as sects and ethics in general. As someone said religiosity is high on paper, with many Swedes being church members. However, it is mostly due to every Swede getting compulsory membership at birth up untill very recently (about 10-20 years ago). Many Swedes get confirmed, but mostly because it’s like a fun thing to do with your friends, and it also provides some opportunities to get drunk and have sex. Yay for that! I’m a church member, but not baptised or confirmed. Also born out of wedlock. Also, the Swedesh church is INSANELY LIBERAL. A few years ago the Bishop of Stockholm, was a lesbian woman. Don’t know any other church that would allow that. The Swedish church also support gay marriage and a lot of other civil liberties. Sometimes it feels more like we have a religious left. =P When I first came across your blog I didnt really understand why you and others where so aggressive about your atheism. The way I see it, you’re setting yourself upp to a needless open religious war that I don’t think you’ll be able to win. I’m aware of how the religious right behave in the US and what kind of power they have, and I honestly don’t hink you’ll “win” by challenging them. Also, an atheist myself I didn’t understand why you have to “fight” religion. For me it has always been a private matter, and it seemed that it wasn’t enough for you to be athiests yourself, and that you actively wanted to change other beliefs in the same way as missionaries etc want to.Since the reoprting on Damon Fowler I must say that my opinons have shifted a bit. I see that I was probably wrong and that you have reason for your aggression. Even though I still don’t see a need for you to be anti religion, I do think you have more reason to being aggressive and assertive when it comes to being pro atheist. That you have to be active in at least rebunking religion in school and government, and fight for that first amendment. And well, as long as you’re not agressive towards other people, I don’t see any harm in spreading the word and informing others about atheism. So, keep the good work up!

  46. Natja says

    True Avicenna, it is the only time I ever hear the word in the UK.  Mind you, I never use it mostly because I don’t swear alot.

  47. says

    The active (and activist) atheist movement in the US makes sense to me, but largely only in the context of the batshit-crazy cultural attitudes related to and stemming from religion that are common in so many parts of the US, some almost pervasive throughout society. Anecdotally, here in the UK the safest assumption on meeting someone new is that they have no real religious views; they may have been raised in some religion, but they won’t be particularly observant now. People often find conversations on religious topics uncomfortable, even to the extent of feeling awkward on finding out the person they’ve just been introduced to teaches Sunday school or something. Mention that you voluntarily spend free time at religious events, especially residential ones, and people tend to think you’re strange. However, I know plenty of people in the UK who react, on hearing about organised atheist activities, events, etc (generally in the US), with utter befuddlement. “But why?” is the usual response.That’s not to say that we wouldn’t benefit from more organised scepticism in this country. People might not be very religious, but that’s just because, well, they’re not, and they’re not expected to be. They don’t think about why, they don’t engage with those issues at all. Superstition is perfectly common, as are attitudes to sex, gender, race, the lottery, nationality, and so forth, that are much harder to support when you require evidence and logical argumentation, and refute logical fallacies. The usual juxtaposition of atheism and scepticism in the US (which is quite a logical thing to do) means that atheist groups can be a voice for that, while we have very little such discourse.

  48. Cass Morrison says

    I’m in Canada and the religiosity in the is US is scary because it keeps leaking over the border. Keep it to yourselves, eh?

  49. Mloren says

    I’m in Australia not Europe but I thought I’d give my perspective.America comes across as a horrifically scary place with religious nutters running around all over the place. We do have some of the same issues here, including religion influencing politics in stupid ways but its all way less pronounced.Probably the biggest difference is there is far less stigma about being an Atheist. Most people don’t care what you believe or even if you believe nothing. Sure there are the religious fanatics who think all atheists should die but they are a minority.I can openly admit I’m an atheist and no one cares one way or another.

  50. says

    I’m Latvian. Atheism is popular here, I think in part because all religion was prohibited in Soviet times. And if there are religious people, they are mostly privately religious. What is more saddening is the discrimination of non-heterosexual people. And lack of scepticism concerning other things like horoscopes.The popularity of religion in US is scary, especially when it gets between knowledge and people (evolution denial). It’s a bit sad you need an atheist movement.

  51. says

    Another Canadian here, and I’m not sure which import worries me more – the high-octane religiosity, or the hard-core conservatism. It’s not too hard to look at the Alberta-born Conservatives (I’m Albertan; I’ve watched them practice provincially) and see the Republican playbook with the serial numbers scratched off.

  52. Jos Geluk says

    I’m a Dutchman. In my experience, religion in the Netherlands is just not so much of an issue; the subject simply doesn’t come up as often. Outward religious behaviour is frowned upon as being, well, outward; what one believes is highly personal and tends not to get in the way of everyday social life. Outspoken atheists are rare. The ones I know are trying to come to terms with their strictly religious background. This is all more or less the same as the Scandinavians who have responded.However, as my fellow Dutchman above pointed out, the coming of Muslim immigrants and their fiercely claiming a right to expressing their religion  may change all that.

  53. Trevor M says

    Another Canadian, I’m a former pastor and I work in a church, and the American brand of religious zealotry scares the crap out of me when I see it bleeding into things up here.

  54. psmith123456 says

    I’m another Canadian, but with a different perspective having lived through extremist religious crap – my parents are/were Limeys and both Orange and Green, protestant and catholic.  (“Are/were” because I haven’t spoken to them in ten years.  I don’t know if they’re dead or still alive.)  I’ve also lived in Asia for the past decade – four years in South Korea, the last six in Taiwan, plus visits to other countries.Most Canadians tend to be rather subdued and keep religion personal, not foist it on others, though it was dominant in the past, with catholic cultists having their fingers in the school systems (and penises in children) until the 1980s.  Read up on “residential schools” and both the sexual abuse and cultural genocide that was practiced (if you’ve seen the movie “Australia” and the racism portrayed, it’s along those lines).  We also tend to be far less flag waving – I’ve only ever encountered one asshole who got pissy or attempted violence (and failed) because I wouldn’t stand for “O Canada”.  Our difference in attitudes – laid back versus being tightly wound – can be summed up in an old Canadian joke:  “In the US, it’s how the west was won.  In Canada, it’s how the west was negotiated.”As far as Asia goes, religion is a matter of convenience in many countries.  I’ve met many Taiwanese who play along with christian or even jewish crap and calling themselves one just so they can take advantage of some privileges (e.g. getting married in a church, a white wedding).  They don’t actually practice it.  The same is true of Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and (so I’m told) mainland China.  The only time that Taiwan’s daoism gets annoying is during Chinese New Year; fireworks give me headaches.Filipino christians, on the other hand, are overly and overtly religious.  Filipinos impose religion publicly on society because about 90% of people are catholic; on the bright side, proselytizers are non-existent because it’s so dominant.  Church bells ring several times daily, churches control public schools and universities (directly or through social control of deans), businesses blast prayers on loudspeakers in public.  Atheists in the Philippines are looked down on and sometimes face discrimination in school or the workplace.http://philippineatheists.org/http://filipinofreethinkers.or…Religion in South Korea was the worst.   Korea lives by confucianist rules and culture, and the “higher” people by such rules expect the “lower” to submit, and that includes employers expecting employees to attend the employer’s church or risk being fired with no legal protection, something I experienced myself while teaching ESL.  There were regular (every few months) incidents of vandalism, assault, and arson of buddhist temples or people by fundamentalist christians and/or catholics during the time I was there, and animists/shamanists are treated worse than buddhists.  Korean christians are big believers in the “10/40 window” crap, which is why some idiots went to Afghanistan and got themselves killed back in 2007, what I call “suicide by stupidity”.  (Taiwan is also confucianist, but nowhere near as bad.)Most Korean kids at a Korean “hagwon” are glad to talk to foreign teachers because even the foreign christians don’t force religion onto their students.  I’ve had several kids who were atheists, buddhists, animists, jeung san do, or cheon do tell me stories with tears in their eyes that they are sometimes beaten or humiliated by public school teachers for not participating in prayer during class.  Hearing that I and others were atheists or agnostics made many of them open up and was a relief to them..

  55. psmith123456 says

    Well, it was the still-birthplace of the Reform party, later the “Canadian Alliance” (“Dalliance” with fascism is more like it).Speaking of which, did you ever take a good long look at the “Canadian Alliance” logo?  Did it remind you of something, but you just couldn’t put your finger on it?1) Take the original CA logo, the one on the left in the linked image.2) Copy and rotate it 180 degrees.3) Connect the two copies at the flat narrow base.4) Flip the image horizontally, then look at the result:Canadian Alliance logo, original and altered (I have corrected the link.)I can’t figure if this was happenstance or a deliberate subliminal message (like the old TV miniseries “V”).  Either way, it’s very a propos..

  56. says

    Hi. I am from Czech Republic, allegedly the most atheistic state in the world. Until I was twelve I did not know there are still people in the world, who really believe in God(s). Until I  was twenty I did not know there are still young earth creationists in USA.Even today some of my non-english speaking friends and relatives are reluctant to believe all the religious shit I read about on your and PZed’s Blog. It just seems too outlandish – Creation Museum, DI, Televangelists – it is like from badly written fantasy novel.

  57. says

    I an a Briton displaced to Malmö in Sweden and though I’m still a little distanced from this strange society it’s certainly true that there’s little outward religiosity. Indeed, most of the folks I’ve met fit agnostic/skeptic/atheist categories.Back in the UK the state religion remains a feature of the establishment and for that reason does not inspire a great amount of religiosity. Traditionally religion has been the domain of the middle and upper classes. Only in rural England has the church been strong. In the cities, the working classes have had more pressing concerns than pie-in-the-sky. It was significant to me that Tony Blair, who was a fervent god-botherer, downplayed his faith and did not convert to Catholicism until he had left office. By comparison American religion seems alien and seems to exert a powerful pull on electorates, politicians and policy. Barminess that once seemed quaint now seems a touch sinister. How much of this is a feature of religion in America as a whole, or within the tensions between urban and rural America, is unclear.

  58. Jamie says

    As an Aussie, the thing I find most striking about the U.S. Atheist movement is the fact that it is even necessary.  I find it bordering on the insane that such disordered thinking permeates every level of government and private enterprise, so much so that we you have a young earth creationist as the head of your premier scientific authority (Francis Collins), and evangelical Christians running for President (take your pick from the Republican party).The fact that people who believe in the biblical god so vastly outnumber rational, critical thinkers is quite disturbing especially, as Sam Harris quotes, over 50% actually believe that Jesus will return to save the world in their lifetime.  As other posters have said, here in Australia fervent belief in the Almighty is becoming more and more an oddity to be laughed at rather than revered.  I can’t begin to understand what atheists in the US have to contend with at every turn.  You have both my admiration and support for your cause.

  59. Ádám Morva says

    In Hungary, religion is something almost restricted to old people.The vast majority of people below 30 are rather atheistic.I happen to know only two guys who I would describe fundie christians – warning, the term means something different here, a moderate american christian would be considered a fundie nutjob over here.There is no “argument” over whether the Earth is 6000 years or if evolution is a lie – virtually all kids come out of primary school biology classes at the age of 12-14 with a basic understanding of evolution. I personally only know those two guys who have problem accepting evolution – and *GASP* they happen to attend an American congregation.. Surprise, surprise. (please, stop exporting your idiocity, thank you very much!)Hungarians – and I think the world in general looks at the USA as idiots. When I was in primary school I thought it’s an emotional response to your warmongering foreign policy of the 20th century and envy of your economical status, but I started to keep a finger or two on the States and realized that the clown of nations title is very much spot on.That being said, Hungary has its own very serious intellectual problems, but when we look at American rednecks fighting over something as basic as evolution our feeling of smugness is vindicated.

  60. says

    I’m half English/half French, living mostly in the UK.It’s not that religion doesn’t exist in Europe, it’s just that it’s a private matter. In France they have a very clear separation of the church and the state written into the constitution, known as laïcité. The french side of my family is extremely religious, but they never shoved it down my throat, even as a child. My cousin is a nun (!!) and she doesn’t wear a habit in public because she believes her (albeit very strong) religious beliefs are nobody’s business but her own. In the UK (I’d call that my home culture) we don’t have a constitution, and thus our position on religion is not as rigidly defined. Religious practice exists in public life in the guise of tradition (God save the Queen after all). As many have already said, those that parade their religion with any level of enthusiasm are generally viewed as a little bit odd at best, someone to be avoided at worst. There were many a raised eyebrow when Tony Blair openly declared his conversion to Catholicism, and most politicians’ personal religious views are never discussed publicly.The USA is a wonderful country that I would move to in a heartbeat. But I do find it hard to understand how the same country that put a man on the moon also has a large percentage of its population that take a thousands year old book literally and would use that as a basis for denying basic human rights to women, gay folk and many others. Astounding. It’s pretty scary when you think about it.

  61. pete084 says

    The Queen is both head of state and head of the Church of England, the House of Lords has 26 Bishops sitting unelected, we have state funded faith schools, daily religious assembly and at least one hour of religious education per week  are mandatory in state schools. Other than those there are few connections with religion!The above are the last vestiges of the power of the church and, as mentioned previously, the balance of strong believers in government is strongly in favour of secularism, only tradition keeps religious ceremony in Parliament.It scared me when Tony the phony came out as religious, and I was extremely happy when he waited, until after running away from losing the next election, before converting to Catholicism. @Jen; This has been an interesting topic, I hope you’ve gained as much from it as I have.

  62. Anon says

    I’m not in Europe, but perhaps you’d like to read my 2 cents from south of the border.  Here the Catholic church has been a major political player for the last 500 years. Other religions were forbidden until the 1820s, and up to 1853 the Cath Church owned a third of the riches.  Then they sided with the US in the 1847 war, and I’m guessing that made them lose support. So after a devastating civil war, we gained a secular state.  The Church assets were seized, the convents were closed, the State opened schools, etc. Of course the Church wasn’t happy, and we had another war over it in the 1920s. Secularism is largely considered our -only?- political treasure. Even religious schools have to teach evolution  and sex ed. From that point of view, the US fundies look like total nutjobs. Unfortunately, our Catholic fundies have been in power for the last 11 years. That means the Cath Church is as active as ever, though in a far more visible manner. They go as far as to rate candidates and ask “who would the Virgin vote for?”. (They got their asses sued, but still)Add to that the fact that your US fundies have been continuously sending missionaries to our poorer communities (and elsewhere too, but the poorer communities have a lot less access to the secular State services, and as a consequence entire towns have gotten into a religious war mindset that has displaced hundreds of people).  Back in the 1970s we were one of the places where the liberal catholics  (represented by the Jesuits) fought with the fundie catholics (represented by the creepy Legionnaires of Christ). The former were considered too commie by the business community, so the latter got the money and won. In spite of it all, the mainstream baptisms-and-weddings-only Catholics seem to be standing strong. The protestant churches, aware that they fight an uphill battle, tend to value the secular state. Among the educated classes, you never ask somebody’s religion unless you know them well. Paganism and new-agey stuff is as mainstream as “social” Catholicism,  though you’ll hardly ever meet someone who’ll think of themselves as a pagan; they’ll say they’re Catholics but keep reading the Tarot and visiting shamans. Agnostics and atheists are harder to find, but their numbers are growing.

  63. Thilina says

    US religion seems to be all over the place, ranging from extremely smart atheists to the very ignorant bible thumpers.I’m from New Zealand, and for the most part everyone gets the general idea (everyone agrees on the general set of moral rules and the rest is left to personal preference). Compared to the US, religion here is unimportant. Even the religious people just leave you to what you want to believe ( a few years back i remember seeing a guy yelling things from a bible on the corner of a busy street in the middle of the city and the people walking by we’re genuinely confused someone was actually doing it. and like me was probably the first and only time they’d seen someone doing it)

  64. Chris says

    As a brit, terrifying. The whole attitude to religion here is, to oversimplify, just kind of “meh.” You either are or you aren’t, and no-one really cares. (bear in mind I’m speaking as a student who doesn’t travel much so all this might not be representative). Any big public religious thing is probably just tradition. The whole thing in some parts of America about religion and going to church being this whole being important part of your public identity just doesn’t happen here. No-one boasts about going to church here. At most, some people wear crosses. That’s it. And politicians? Man, your politicians are weird. (or at least the politician stereotypes that I’ve picked up from the Internets, feel free to correct me). No major politician here ever mentions God in their speeches. If a politician in the UK said we should elect them becasue God is on their side, the majority of us, including religious, would just think they’re kinda weird. Not like crazy America where you have to shout about your faith to even have a hope of being elected. So, looking at America, the atheist movement looks absolutely necessary. I’m not saying the UK is perfect or anything (hymns in lower school assembly for example), but considering we’re the ones with a national church and a monarch supposedly elected by God, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.Naturally, standard caveats of a single outsider looking in apply, but this is how I see it.

  65. FatBigot says

    British Christian here.American religion seems batshit crazy. Especially the effect on foreign policy appears dangerous, with support for whatever Israel wants to do, and denying fertility control/condoms to the third world.The other problem is the whole creationism thing. If you want to assume that the bible has the accuracy of a peer reviewed scientific text, read 1 Kings 7:23 and base all your engineering calculations on the basis that PI is 3 exactly. EVERY argument that supports creationism must also lead to this conclusion.What I do see in the UK is that as organised religion declines, a whole lot of crazy beliefs fill the void. This seems to be self-selected on a pick-and mix basis. Our future head of state, Prince Charles is a leading advocate of a lot of this.

  66. James says

    Has anyone read Eric Kaufman’s book, “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century”? Just wondering if anyone has noticed whether the more conservative / religious people in Europe tend to have more children and have them earlier in Europe as they do in the US. 

  67. James says

    My apologies for the redundancy – please omit either one of the “in Europe’s” in my question :)

  68. Kencava says

    Francis Collins is a devout Christian, but espouses evolution. I try to get my fundie friends to read his book.

  69. Kelendel says

    I know… I’m very late commenting this post… but being italian I think my opinion could be somewhat interesting.(First of all: I’m sorry for my poor english)I’m agnostic, my wife is an atheist, and we live less than a km away from Vatican. So, we are dealing daily and very closely with religion.Sometimes I think that US religion could be worse than italian religion. Sometimes I’m not so sure. I think my viewpoint can be a little biased here because I enjoy reading of the most striking religious silliness (like the creationist museum, that sometimes still haunts my dreams) and it can be that I had lose sight on the US average religious people.I think that US religion somewhat comboed very badly with US somewhat blind patriotism. This is missing in Italy. Here the clergy has great political power (altough not directly), but still politicians do not mention God as much as in the USA. They still “work for Him”, banning same-sex marriage and so on, but sometimes it’s almost like they do it because of their moral which for a happy coincidence it’s almost the same to the christian moral. I think that italians are too much used to religious hypocrisy to complain to the politicians which talks about the “true family” – which of course is the religious one – and yet they divorced once or twice and sometimes are suspected of going with prostitutes. I think that, even in Italy, religion is becoming more and more about appearances. It’s ok to claim to be religious and to not really follow any religious dictates, but it’s still a little frowned upon to openly claim to be an atheist.I know that in other part of Italy (mostly in the south), religion it’s more felt by the population. We have some crazy kind of hidden polytheism with all those saints, each one with their field of relevance. Sometimes people pray more to those saints than to God (a few years ago was common for the italian VIPs to show off devotion to Padre Pio, the most famous of all modern saints. This trend has a little decreased during time, but still he’s one of the most mentioned saints).Still, we have a good secular constitution, no name of God on our money, nor I think it would be possible to have something so extreme like the creationist museum. But we do pay vatican a lot of good money (both by not having them to pay us taxes and even paying them their trips and some of their bills) and we still struggle to have a more secular politics.

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