Ungodly: vote!

It’s a stupid internet poll, and it’s very badly phrased, but you should vote anyway. Larry King wants to know “which religion do you associate with?” — and atheism is one of the choices.

(I know, I know, atheism isn’t a religion. Argue about it later.)

Heh. The poll is currently registering 71% of the voters as atheists. They say you can’t herd cats; if you point the pride at a slow, stupid, old gazelle, though, you can get them all to take a bite. Now we just have to work our way up to bigger and less gamey prey.


  1. Tim says

    No one can say you’re not a fabulous organizer, PZ. At just shy of 8:00 EDT, the poll was running atheist to the tune of some 71%.

  2. talapus says

    So far atheism is winning hands down, with about 71% of responses. Doubtless that will change as the Xtians catch on. I was able to vote twice, early and often, from the same IP address. :-)

  3. says

    This must be your fault:

    Christianity 15% 2180
    Judaism 5% 706
    Islam 2% 251
    Buddhism 0% 73
    Hinduism 0% 45
    Jehovah�s Witnesses 1% 150
    Atheism 71% 10546
    Agnostic 2% 337
    I am spiritual, but of no religion 3% 441
    Mine’s not listed 1% 163
    Total Votes: 14892

  4. PuckishOne says

    Has anyone looked at the results thus far? Of 14,000-odd respondents, more than 10,000 have selected “atheism.” As much as I’d like to see this as a triumph, I’ve watched Larry King’s show and doubt that this is reflective of his audience.

    Something else I noticed: Mormonism is not included on this list. Interesting.

  5. llewelly says

    The Friendly Atheist posted this quite some time ago. It’s also popped up on rdf.
    PZ is rather late to lay his boarding plank this time around.

  6. chaos_engineer says

    I usually describe myself as agnostic, but I voted atheist because I wanted to do PZ a favor. So that explains the unexpectedly high results; the number of atheists should really only be 10,545.

  7. says

    I knew there were more of us that you’d think, but I had no idea. 71 percent — I call that a mandate. :)

    Or did every last atheist in America freep the poll?

  8. Todd says


    In your face “Mine’s not listed”

    Let’s celebrate. Teenage abortions on the house.

  9. SteveM says

    #3:”Something else I noticed: Mormonism is not included on this list. Interesting”

    Isn’t Moromonism considered a form of Christianity? The real question is why is Jehovah’s Witness singled out?

  10. says

    Note that (at the time of voting) there are as many agnostics as Muslims, and in fact 50% more. Time to start a crusade against the Agnostic Threat. Have a War on Indecisiveness now!

  11. says

    Although Larry King’s poll carries the usual “not a scientific poll” disclaimer, people give these silly things much more weight than they deserve. If it turns out that atheists dominate it and atheism ends up as the #1 “religion”, expect screams of horror from religionists about the militant fervor and degree of organization exhibited by the evil, evil nonbelievers.

    It should be amusing.

    In the meantime, the curious might want to check out the latest installment of NPR’s On the Media, which was all about atheism. The 12-minute radio program interviews House creator David Shore about the atheist curmudgeon (portrayed by Hugh Laurie) at the heart of his doctor drama, presents some results from UMinn sociologist Penny Edgell (why folks fear atheists), offers a snatch of snark from South Park‘s anti-Dawkins episode, and has Sam Harris say a few words about stirring up nonbelievers. [Link]

  12. CalGeorge says

    Speaking of polls:

    One in four read no books last year

    WASHINGTON — There it sits on your night stand, that book you’ve meant to read for who knows how long but haven’t yet cracked open. Tonight, as you feel its stare from beneath that teetering pile of magazines, know one thing – you are not alone.

    One in four adults read no books at all in the past year, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. Of those who did read, women and older people were most avid, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices. [continues]


  13. Darthtingle says

    Just a thought – most Christians don’t watch CNN. The question asked by this poll – moreso than something to the effect of “How many people in America associate themselves with a certain religion?” – would be along the lines of “How many people who keep up with liberally biased media are associated with certain religions in America?”

    Considering that it is known (by far more reliable polls) that a large percentage of America consider’s itself Christian, this would point to one (or more) of several conclusions:
    1. More athiests watch (or care about) Larry King than Christians.
    2. Christians are more honest in their polling (see comment by talapus).
    3. Athiests have more time to waste answering stupid poll questions online.

    Also, Mormonism is not Christian. It doesn’t consider itself so. Christians don’t consider it so. Same goes for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    I’m fairly certain this won’t get a lot of press unless CNN makes it so. Then, of course, everyone else will have to respond in order to maintain fairness/political equilibrium. Don’t get so worked up about it. Jesus lives!

  14. says

    Corey: I guess that more atheists watch Larry King.

    Perhaps, but what is the cause and what is the effect?

    I think people watch Larry King and then exclaim, “There is no God!”

  15. says

    (grinning) Voted with the herd of cats. I’m interested in seeing a) whether this poll will ever see the light of day with that result, and b) how people will react if it does!

    I predict that someone will claim that Larry is the Antichrist….:)

  16. Sean says

    Ok, just finished another 12 hour shift so my brain is a tad fuzzy, but is Darthtingle serious or a parody?

    The severity of his factual errors is glaring, but that typically, is not indicative of only parodies. The real Christians consistently tell some amazing whoppers with straight faces.

  17. Unstable Isotope says

    I’ve always wondered what “spiritual” means. I’ve always thought it meant that the person was agnostic but didn’t want to tell anyone.

  18. says

    You owe an apology to old, stupid gazelles!

    I spent a couple of hours with Larry King when he did the old Mutual Broadcasting overnight show, starting at midnight ET, as I recall. He was better in his youth. It was also the night I got poisoned by shad roe, but that’s a story for another time.

    Heh, who can resist? I’ll vote atheist, too, but you guys know better.

  19. says

    Also, Mormonism is not Christian. It doesn’t consider itself so.

    What? They really meant to be the Church of Groucho Marx of Latter-day Saints, but the name was already taken?

    I think Mormons would beg to differ. They claim to be the only true Christians. (They even have some true Scotsmen in the church, but I digress.)

  20. raven says

    They [Mormons] claim to be the only true Christians.

    Actually as god’s chosen people they claim to be the Real Jews. Everyone else including the Jews are referred to by the members as “gentiles”.

    It is a matter of semantics and opinion as to whether they are also “Christian”. To many fundies, the Roman Catholic church is the church of satan and the Pope is some sort of demon. Mainstream protestants are also sometimes lumped in with the Catholics. Then there are the Unitarians who the Trinitarians consider heretics.

    One perk of being a fundie Death cultist is the ability to hate the vast majority of the world’s population for one reason or another. They are very, very good at hating other people. They hate the vast majority of Xians for not being Death cultists and the rest of the world for being nonXian. Of the world’s population of 6.7 billion they usually manage to get 99%+ on one of their hate lists.

    Not too surprisingly, after a while the rest of the world hates them back.

  21. Alan says

    Come now, as an ex-Mormon turned atheist, I can tell you that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints” is christian and they consider all who worship Jesus Christ christian. That includes roman catholics, orthodox, fundies, and probably even ignorant trolls like Darthtingle. It’s too funny: club members who seek to exclude other members from their membership. Divide and conquer I say.

  22. raven says

    (more seriously)

    Should I then hate the fundies?

    Probably not worth the effort. But it depends on where you live. It also depends on whether they have been threatening and assassinating your colleagues and friends or not. The Death cultists don’t just publish lists, occasionally they threaten and kill people on them.

    Maybe we can ask Michael Korn about this if and when he gets caught.

  23. says

    The internet bozos at 4chan got all interested in the poll and flooded it. That’s where a big spike comes from. I’m glad to see that some rational, reasonable people are also amongst those 12,000 votes, though.

  24. says

    Am I the only one who finds it odd that the percentage is still at 71%? The votes have risen, but the percentage of atheists overall hasn’t changed. Seems like some bot might be monitoring it and voting to pump up the atheist count or something.

  25. says

    Most atheists would agree that atheism is not a religion; still, credit should be given where credit is due. King, at least, seems to acknowledge that we’re out there and are viable contenders in his poll. More recognition, I suspect, than us heathens can ever hope to garner from Fox & Co.

  26. says

    “This is not a scientific poll.”

    Damn straight!

    Now, I did vote, and I have the feeling of accomplishment, but how many people will even see this? Does it show at the end of the show or the next show of Larry King? No matter the case, of course it carries little meaning in the larger scale of things.

    But it does show numbers, which is a good thing to help people realize having no religion is not an incredibly small minority.

    But I have one beef that needs to be fixed by CNN: I have vote more than once. I cannot help but think that some, perhaps many, are just voting multiple times to inflate the numbers. I would prefer honest godlessness.

  27. phat says

    Um, speaking as a lifelong atheist and someone married to a woman raised LDS. Yes, Mormons still consider Jesus Christ as their savior. They are Christians and consider themselves this.

    Of course this is the problem with Christianity (and revealed belief in general). Whose to say which version is more correct?


  28. craig says

    “Of course this is the problem with Christianity (and revealed belief in general). Whose to say which version is more correct?”

    Me. They are all equally (in)correct.

  29. jba says

    Everyone else including the Jews are referred to by the members as “gentiles”.

    Id be interested to know where you got this. I was raised mormon and about half of my family still believes and this is the first time I have ever heard that. Its true that some of them do believe that they are a lost tribe of Israel (or something to that effect), but Ive only seen it used to strike a martyr pose. I have never heard a mormon call someone a gentile.

  30. jba says

    er, that first bit is supposed to be in quotes. like this
    “Everyone else including the Jews are referred to by the members as “gentiles”.” my bad.

  31. tceisele says

    A question for the formerly-mormon atheists:

    When my brother attempted to convert me to the LDS church (an attempt which failed), he really played up the fact that there were all kinds of “divine revelations” supporting it, and that he had received such a “revelation” himself. I came to the conclusion that they basically set up a dichotomy: you had to either become a Mormon, or realize in no uncertain terms that claims of divine revelation were completely without merit. This has led me to think that ex-Mormons are more likely to completely discard any belief in revelations and become atheists than to switch to some other religion. Would you say, from your own experience, that this is correct?

    If it is, maybe we should be working out ways to use the Mormons as sort of an inoculation against religion.

  32. says

    It’s up to 72% now… I’d like to think it was my vote that made the difference, but that would be immodest. Ah, what the heck, I’ll take the credit, it’s not like pride is a sin or abything… :-)

  33. Will says

    I am an atheist (not a religion) and yet I attend my church regularly where I am accepted as an atheist without any question. But they don’t list Unitarian Universalism as a choice, so I clicked other.

  34. raven says

    Mormonism and Judaism
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Latter-day Saints believe themselves to be either direct descendants of the Israelites, or adopted into the House of Israel. As such, Judaism is mentioned in Mormonism; Jews are considered to be “Kin Blood” and are respected in the Mormon faith system.

    I have never heard a mormon call someone a gentile.

    I got that Mormon=Real Jews from several different Mormons over the years. It is central to the doctrine inasmuch as they are claiming to be god’s chosen people, aka the Jews. One sees the words Zion a lot for busines names in SLC.

    The Gentiles are old Jews + nonmembers bit came from a former Mormon missionary from Utah who was temporarily backsliding. It might be archaic and not used much anymore.

  35. raven says

    [edit]Wikipedia: Latter-day Saints Church usage
    Main article Mormonism and Judaism.

    In the terminology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS Church”; see also Mormon) the word Gentile takes on different meanings in different contexts, which may confuse some and alienate others. Members of the LDS church regard themselves as regathered Israelites, and so sometimes use the word “Gentile” to refer to non-members. In such usage Jews may be colloquially referred to as “Gentiles” because they are not members of the LDS Church. However, the traditional meaning is also to be found in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, in the statement that it is written to both “Jew” (literal descendants of the House of Israel) and “Gentile” (those not descended from the House of Israel or those of the tribe of Ephraim scattered among the “Gentiles” throughout the earth).

    In order to avoid confrontation and pejorative connotations, Latter-day Saints in the 21st century avoid using the term “Gentile” in everyday matters, preferring “non-member”. “Gentile” is usually reserved for discussions of scriptural passages.

    More than one wants to know about Mormons, Real Jews, those other Jews, and those other Xians. Looks like calling nonmembers Gentiles is now considered a bit archaic.

  36. says

    It’s all those damn godless liberals watching CNN. Obviously, Larry King is bad for the network’s image, so he’ll be Imused and replaced by Glenn Beck.

  37. Hacker on Steriods says

    Yeah the spike is 4chan’s fault, they are the source that let me know about the poll. Most of the votes from them may not even be atheists, they just want the atheists to win for the laughs. Don’t go to 4chan if you are easily offended, VERY NSFW.

  38. Rieux says


    I am an atheist (not a religion) and yet I attend my church regularly where I am accepted as an atheist without any question. But they don’t list Unitarian Universalism as a choice, so I clicked other.

    I’m a UU-churchgoing atheist as well–but I think the point was to freep this poll, so I chose “Atheist.”

    (I would argue that neither atheism nor Unitarian Universalism per se is a religion.)

  39. zer0 says

    “Note that (at the time of voting) there are as many agnostics as Muslims, and in fact 50% more. Time to start a crusade against the Agnostic Threat. Have a War on Indecisiveness now!”

    I voted agnostic. I don’t consider myself indecisive. I firmly choose not to believe. However, I don’t bother myself with converting Christians, or getting in debates about the existence. Perhaps I’m more of an apathetic atheist or weak atheist, but I think this leans more towards agnosticism anyways. I tend to lump atheists/agnostics together as a sort of “non-believers” group even though there are several differences.

  40. Martha says

    The whole atheism vs agnostic debate is silly. They aren’t mutually exclusive categories. I do not believe in a god -> atheist. I acknowledge the existence of a god is not necessarily knowable -> agnostic. I am both. Just because there could be a god, the idea does justify spending time or resources believing in it.

  41. Arnosium Upinarum says

    …and so now, in their infinitely perspicuous rationalization, the Faithful will point to this and declare something like:

    1. “Look at this horrendous threat posed by the growth of Godlessness! This demonstrates that God-Fearing Americans must step up their efforts to combat them.”


    2. “Look and see the evidence for yourself, of how brazenly arrogant atheists are in wishing to dominate society! This demonstrates that God-Fearing Americans must step up their efforts to combat them.”

    or some ludicrous combination of these and other delectable tidbits from the Book of Religious Reasoning.

  42. octopod says

    Oh, wow. That was 4chan? They can do something amusing after all!
    (For those who don’t know, 4chan is one of the several festering armpits of the Internet, something like somethingawful — a bunch of 14-year-old boys trading badly drawn porn and poorly thought-out witticisms. I’m not surprised this is what you get when you point them at a Larry King Show religion poll.)

  43. Leon says

    I did my civic duty there, but I’m surprised to say it felt somehow hollow to find myself voting with an overwhelming (or at least very strong) minority. Is that some perversity on my part, or is it just from having gotten used to being part of a despised minority?

  44. Leon says

    (Ahem…I meant to say an overwhelming majority. Sigh…I guess that little Freudian slip answers my question, doesn’t it?)

  45. Alan says

    #37–I’ve often heard LDS Mormons refer to others as gentiles. Now, realize that I stopped going to church in the 70s, was openly calling myself agnostic in the 80s and realizied that there wasn’t really a difference between agnostic and atheist by the 90s–so I may not be up on what LDS Mormons are currently doing. My Mother and many cousins, etc. are still very active and I don’t remember them using the term recently, so it may be out of fashion.
    #39–No dichotomy as I understand what you’re saying. Mormons talk a lot about that verse in the bible about knock and it shall be opened, etc. and they believe that if you sincerely pray and ask about the “truth” of Mormonism, you will get an answer. They spend the first sacrament meeting of every month sharing their testimony of the truth of all this. They say if you don’t get the answer, then you’re not asking sincerely–that’s the dichotomy. As a kid, I prayed and never got an answer and that wasn’t a problem to me. It was simply the fundies that put me off religion. They so harshly criticized my religion, that I looked at all religion and found it lacking. As far as I can tell the best deterrent to religion among the thinking has to be fundamentalism. As an Atheist, I can only help others who are seeking real truth and logic–the conversion from religion seems to work best from within.

  46. jba says

    Thanks for the info folks. I stopped going to church when I was 14, but that was in the 90s, so I guess that they stopped doing it by then.

  47. anon says

    I believe that it was 420chan who started the chans moving towards rigging the poll. They’ve done other amusing poll riggings before too. They were the ones who almost sent the Spice Girls to Baghdad by spamming their poll.

  48. bernarda says

    OT, but things do happen in Minnesota. Another Rethuglican arrested on sex charges.


    “Authorities cited Droogsma, 50, of Red Wing, on a misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution and jailed him for about 12 hours before releasing him on his own recognizance early Wednesday.

    He denies the allegation.

    Droogsma was a spokesman for Sen. Rudy Boschwitz in the late 1980s and Gov. Arne Carlson in the early 1990s. Recently, he publicly supported a candidate seeking to replace state Rep. Steve Sviggum. All three elected officials were Republicans.”

  49. heintron says

    4chan.org observed this poll and raided it. Thats why there is so many posts. There was 10k posts in a couple of hours. This is the reason.

  50. Jeff Dee says

    Can somebody post actualy *evidence* that the poll was spammed by 4chan? Other than hearsay, I mean. Just curious.