You Are Winning! First time ever, polls show key non-religious group a plurality in US


GSS_2012_religion
Call me a hopeless dreamer, but this almost brought tears to my eyes. For decades there has been a shift away from with organized religion. You would never know watching the dominionist loudmouths and media stenographers who enabled them, but that’s a fact. Now, for the first time ever, a new milestone has been reached: More Americans between the ages of 18-30 now identify with no religion than identify with any other single faith. They are the plurality! Researchers Michael Hunt, Claude Fischer, and Mark Chaves have more below:

(.pdf) — The American religious landscape is changing rapidly. Among the biggest changes is the retreat from identification with organized religions. Once a central identity for adults, this kind of identification is far less prevalent than it was twenty or twenty-five years ago.
The General Social Survey(GSS) has been tracking trends in religious preference since 1972. Everyone in a sample represen-tative of the adult population of the United States is asked “What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?” In 1972, just 5 percent answered“no religion”; by 1990, 8 percent did.
The percentage preferring no religion has risen sharply since1990. In the 2012 data (released March 7, 2013), 20 percent of Americans answered “no religion” — that is an increase of 12 percentage points in 22 years.
We find no evidence of a slowdown. The change from 2010 to 2012 was 2 percentage points, within the margin of error of what we would expect based on the overall rate of increase from 1990 to 2008…

We are going to prevail my friends, just like marriage equality, it is inevitable. It’s no wonder atheists stand shoulder to shoulder with those fighting for marriage equality, it’s no surprise we feel hurt, at times angry, even occasionally furious, when men and women are demonized simply for daring to express feel the most precious gift life can offer, falling in with a fellow human being and committing to spending the rest of our lives with that special person.

Yes, we have much in common with our fellow gay and lesbian Americans regardless if they are counted among the faithful or the godless. In the past we were tortured, slowly torn to bloody pieces and burned alive in front of cheering mobs. We have historically been an easy target for bullies and gangs and worse.

Even today we are subject to childhood torment, we have withstood the jabs — both metaphorical and the kind that draw blood and break bones — we have been viciously insulted, we have too often suffered raw discrimination, simply for being honest about what we feel in our hearts. Feelings that injure no one, that are guaranteed by our inalienable rights, and which condemn millions of us to spend an entire life hiding in the shadows.

I am very, very proud to count the LGBT community as among our closet, most precious allies in the endless fight against religious oppression and this news gives me hope there may be similar progress in store for spiritual equality.

Comments

  1. machintelligence says

    And not surprisingly, it is the Protestant denominations that are dropping like a stone.

  2. says

    This is, of course, good news yet it’s nothing to crow about. “No religion” isn’t the same as “no belief in gods.”
    It also doesn’t say much about how “nones” will vote or what causes they’ll support.

    In addition, the poll doesn’t identify how many of those who identify with a religion are in fact atheists.

    The USA will remain culturally Christian for a long time even as religions decline.. France comes to mind. It’s majority atheist these days, yet the historically Catholic culture still prevails strongly.

    Over half the French still self-identify as Catholic, and half of those say they don’t believe in gods. There’s not much relation between ‘religion’ and ‘belief in some god.’

    I’ll post the numbers from the French survey if I can find them quickly.

  3. says

    Here’s a summary. I can post the entire article is anyone wants me to.

    More than a few countries are majority atheist. For example, 31% of the French self-identify as atheist, while 51% self-identify as Catholic. The Catholics were then asked if they believed in ‘God': half said no. Therefore, 56.5% of the French are atheist.

    If you want the truth, you go beyone self-identification. You also ask, as that survey did, what people actually do or don’t believe and you do so without reference to labels.

    France is an atheist nation which, for a while at least, remains culturally Catholic.

  4. intergalacticmedium says

    Cultural religion tends to neuter the more extreme ends of the religion in question in regards to LGBT and womens rights so we should not be too sad :)

  5. Trebuchet says

    The Catholic percentage in the 18-30 group is surprisingly strong — higher than in any of the other age groups. That seems pretty odd to me. Any idea why? Otherwise it just reduces the credibility of the poll, as does the 0% Jewish result in the 31-40 group.

  6. raven says

    This is, of course, good news yet it’s nothing to crow about. “No religion” isn’t the same as “no belief in gods.”

    It works the other way around too.

    A lot of xians are just census xians, box checkers.

    There is good data on this.

    1. Dawkins found it in the UK with his Ipso Facto poll.

    2. Barna, the evangelical polling group, recently identified 37% of the US population as “post xians”.

    3. The number of self identified xians who even go to church is low, less than half.

  7. raven says

    I’ve been keeping a casual eye on the churches on the west coast and my local area. Just for fun.

    They aren’t collapsing but they aren’t doing so well either.

    Anecdotes:

    1. One of my natal sect’s churches just closed for good. A few decades ago they had over a 1000 members. The church just got older and smaller and one day they gave up.

    Around 4,000 churches close in the USA every year.

    2. The churches in my local area are just hanging on. One seems to have shut down. A lot of others have dwindling congregations. I used to get fliers in the mail to go to this one or that. Not any more. I suspect they didn’t get any volunteers and decided not to waste the postage money.

    3. One guy was complaining that his church is getting smaller. How much? In the last few decades, their membership has dropped by 50%.

    4. My parent’s church has a sunday school for kids. In theory. They haven’t had any kids for a long time. The congregation’s average age must be over 60 by now.

  8. anubisprime says

    I think the loss of delusional affiliations has passed a tipping point…in fact that seems confirmed by the year on year increase in apparent ditching of mainstream religion.

    It started a lowly 8 percent in 1990 climbing to 20 percent in 2012….a fifth…that is substantial.

    The trend held and we see solid figures dropping yr on yr…now at a rate of 2 percentage points in two yrs

    I think it will start to accelerate when the realization finally dawns on the atheist members of these polls that they are not alone that in fact there are folk out there that feel the same way…and it will be a relief and more will come out of the shadows and more a trickle of 2 percent will double then triple…in only a few yrs…we are witnessing the break up of the religious stranglehold… it is the tripping point.
    From here on out it might well be a logarithmic progression picking up speed.

    The collapse of the protestant delusion will destabilize the Catholic bulwark…and that will diminish but admittedly more slowly because of the intense fear, intimidation and brain washing that is Catholicism, but diminish it will.

    We will live to see this in our own lifetime…absolutely.

    30 yrs is about all she will write…how very odd…not before time methinks.

  9. quidam says

    I am very, very proud to count the LGBT community as among our closet, most precious allies in the endless fight against religious oppression

    You can only count them if they are out of the closet

  10. Pen says

    @ jenny6833a

    I’d like to note that although that may be the statistical data, the whole ambiance in France is different. The French tend to be militantly secular, whatever their beliefs. Religion is seen in a similar way to sex, there’s nothing wrong with it but you don’t expect to see it on the streets. You don’t expect politicians to practice it in public. It’s because of that spirit that most of France’s problems with its Muslim communities arise. It’s also the case that public displays of (Christian) religion are allowed in some contexts if they’re considered sufficiently ‘folkloric’, that is ‘folkloric’ as defined by the indigenous French – for want of a better word. It’s also considered perfectly socially acceptable to have discussions about religion in which people explain their various religious convictions or lack of them at the neighbourhood barbecue. Nearly always these differences are treated with tolerance, breaches of public secularity are not. So, not a perfect system in many ways, but it certainly doesn’t resemble the situation in the United States.

  11. lanir says

    The link to the pdf seems to be missing.

    I’d like to think organized religion, that ugly old mess of a cultural relic, is dying. What follows is just my personal opinion with nothing more scientifically rigorous than anecdotal evidence.

    I think organized religion’s basic mode of operation has always been to target some subsection of society that has power and use it to bludgeon everyone else into following. For (at least) hundreds of years there’s been a balancing act of trying to avoid the obvious conclusions people will draw from this sort of blatant exploitation by promoting spin about doing what I’ll call “good works” (helping the poor, etc – the quotes are because the motivations are vastly different than what is represented, not to imply they never help people).

    The big difference now is communication. They seem to have almost completely failed to understand how modern communication changes things and they’ve got positively ancient tunnel vision on how that affects their standard propaganda methods. They never got used to spending much time or money advertising their “good works”; it looks like they assumed governments would shunt people their way. But widespread, long distance, inexpensive communication meant more people had a voice. And those voices started asking the governments to provide safety nets because the organized religion’s second-rate efforts just never cut it. And more representation. The old white guy with the most money in town is no longer the person everyone follows. The churches were preaching to the wrong choirs. Those two things in combination are losing it for them.

    At some point they’ll get smart and advertise their charity work more but it may take them a few years to figure out they need to do that. When it happens they’ll regain some ground but they’ve already done a very thorough job of shooting themselves in the foot. They needed to react to most of this decades ago.

  12. says

    @ Pen #11

    “I’d like to note that although that may be the statistical data, the whole ambiance in France is different. The French tend to be militantly secular, whatever their beliefs. Religion is seen in a similar way to sex, there’s nothing wrong with it but you don’t expect to see it on the streets. You don’t expect politicians to practice it in public. ”

    The intense opposition to gay marriage and especially to gay adoption was very public, in the streets, with Catholic politicians and Catholic ‘luminaries’ very much out front.

    “It’s because of that spirit that most of France’s problems with its Muslim communities arise. ”

    I disagree. The French do regard religion as a private matter, yet no one is upset by Muslim women in full regalia on the streets, in the supermarches, etc, and often walking the requisite step behind a guy in jeans and T-shirt who could and does pass for the slightly darker skinned southern French. They also aren’t upset by Catholic crosses as jewelry items, Sikh turbans, etc.

    The problem with the Muslims is their refusal to accept French law, especially as regards school attendance, school dress codes, co-ed classes, learning to swim, and a secular curriculum which includes neither the bible nor the koran. The imans are at the school gates spreading disruption, getting the names of those who cooperate with the rules for offline punishment, etc. It’s mafia enofrcement tactics.

    “It’s also the case that public displays of (Christian) religion are allowed in some contexts if they’re considered sufficiently ‘folkloric’, that is ‘folkloric’ as defined by the indigenous French – for want of a better word.”

    Yeah, that’s ‘culturally Catholic.’

    “It’s also considered perfectly socially acceptable to have discussions about religion in which people explain their various religious convictions or lack of them at the neighbourhood barbecue.”

    I’ve seen that ONLY after a solid freindship has been established, ONLY in private conversations, and ONLY after a lot of wine has been consumed. At a neighborhood BBQ — NO WAY!

    “Nearly always these differences are treated with tolerance …. “</i?

    Yes.

    ” … breaches of public secularity are not.”

    See my remarks re dress, etc.

  13. Pen says

    @ jenny6833a #13

    Hi Jenny, we’ve obviously had very different experiences of France, or perhaps at different times. I really can’t agree with you on the barbecue thing, having got into many such conversations with people I hadn’t previously met.

    As for Muslim dress codes, my understanding is that full Muslim regalia for women has been banned. The simple headscarf is usually not tolerated in schools – is this what you’re calling a refusal to accept school dress codes? Note that I’m not getting into the rights and wrongs of the situation just here but it’s clearly a ban on a Muslim religious symbol in a public place, and in schools that otherwise have very lax dress codes at that. I notice it particularly because in Britain school children wear uniform and a decision was made years ago to integrate a hijab of appropriate colour into the uniform for Muslim girls.

Leave a Reply