Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A headline to warm your heart

Some of you have probably already seen this CNN article, with the eye-catching headline "America becoming less Christian, survey finds". Even more full of awesome is the lead.

America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found. [Emphasis added.]

Still, don't start throwing confetti and popping corks yet. We're a long way from being, say, Norway. The US is still the most benighted country in the civilized world in terms of its addiction to supernaturalist twaddle. Perhaps only Turkey and Saudi Arabia are worse, and as for some of the even more radical Islamist nations, well, we could probably argue about the degree to which they're "civilized" in the first place. I'd be dubious about applying the term to Saudi Arabia even, considering they're still entrenched in attitudes and rules that are indistinguishable from pure barbarism.

The sobering flipside to this shift away from religion is that, among those identifying as Christian (still the humiliating majority), they are shifting further away from traditional denominations and churches, and towards the kind of blinkered, butt-ignorant evangelical fundamentalism represented by the likes of Ray Comfort, Brannon Howse, and the Texas SBOE. So the job of the reality-based community to ensure that such things as science and freethought survive into the 21st century has in fact gotten harder.

The article is, on the whole, typically bad of what you see in the MSM, as they interview numbskulls like the odious Bill Donahue and gay-basher Tony Perkins, while failing to interview anyone representing atheists or the religiously indifferent. But it's still nice to see that the growing rejection of religious idiocy in our country is, at least, being noticed. It's the kind of thing the AE blog and TV show are proud to contribute to.


  1. On another blog:

    The poster put the numbers for similar polls over the last few years...

    & 15% isn't really high... or maybe I'm reading smth wrong...

    "Feb 2009 CUNY ARIS, 12.3% atheist + agnostic
    Apr 2008 Harris, 28% "not religious", 14% "not at all religious" [table 6]
    Nov. 2007 Harris, 18% atheists + agnostics
    Nov 2007 various by Zuckerman and Paul, "America's disbelievers...number 30 million, ...far outnumber American Jews, Muslims and Mormons combined."
    Aug 2007 Pew, nonreligious: 16.1%, with 4% atheist + agnostic and 12.1% generally unaffiliated
    Mar 2007 Newsweek, 10% "no religion", 6% atheist + agnostic
    1972-2006 GSS Data, 14.4% "not religious" [here], 6.1% atheist [here]

    Dec 2006 Harris, 14% agnostic, 4% atheist, 6% "would prefer not to say"
    Sept 2006 Baylor U., 10.8% "religious nones," 5.2% atheists
    2005 Adherents.com global data, 16% of people globally are atheist, agnostic, or related
    May 2004 Pew, 16% "unaffiliated", 7.5% "secular" and 3.2% "atheist, agnostic"
    Dec 2001 CUNY ARIS, "no religion" 8% in 1990, 14% in 2001. 14.3 million in 1990, 29.4 million in 2001 (more here)"

  2. The stupid part about this study is that the "non religious" sector only rose by less than 1% since 2001. Most of the loss occurred in the 1990's. It's all a bunch of hype and fear mongering to get the religious right motivated.

    Lou Dobbs, the closet conservative, aired a special about this study. Not surprising, both of his guests represented the religious sector. No reps from the non-religious side... Way ta go Lou, you hypocritical bastard! Sorry, but for a guy who claims to be independent and impartial, he seems to come down on the side of "stupid" more often than not...

  3. *waits for the trolls*

    Dan? Rhology? This is a good target, us heathens dancing around rejoicing about shrinking Christianity...come on you know you want to. Wait...Rhology is banned. Nevermind.

  4. Martin wrote:
    "The sobering flipside to this shift away from religion is that, among those identifying as Christian (still the humiliating majority), they are shifting further away from traditional denominations and churches, and towards the kind of blinkered, butt-ignorant evangelical fundamentalism..."

    That statement conflicts with this opinion piece, with which I mostly agree:

    The coming evangelical collapse

  5. Good news, not only to America, but to the whole Western world. How did the media treat it there?

  6. Nitpick - it's spelled lede, not lead.

  7. The Everything Else Atheist wrote:
    Nitpick - it's spelled lede, not lead.

    I had never seen that word, and looking it up just now, I find that it's an alternate spelling of "lead," used primarily to keep typesetters from confusing "lead" with the metal. It's a neologism from the past few decades.

    Anyway, I found a few sites that went on to explain what a lead or lede is, but they primarily use the word "lead" when talking about it. For example, The Word Maven.

    From my searching, it looks like "lead" would always be acceptable to a general audience, and I would think it would be preferred as long as it won't be confused with the heavy metal.

  8. Feel free to disagree with me, but I am under the impression that the numbers might be higher than we think. The CNN article states that 75% of people identify themselves as Christians.

    My question is did they simply walk up to people and ask them if they identified themselves as Christians or were multiple questions asked as to what people believed and then based upon this data say people were Christian. In the latter case I would love to see the questions and criteria for being called Christian as that would be more of a scientific poll, whereas on the other hand the former could be viewed as a push poll.

    For one an interesting thing occurs in polling, especially in issues of morality, called the Halo Effect. People like to look good or appear good to people that they do not know and this could skew the numbers in the way of looking more biased towards Christianity because of some people's "perception" that atheists or non-Christians are bad people. On the other hand people do tend to throw on the label Christian even though they know little about Christianity, kind of like high school students who join organizations like Young Life who more or less do it because its a group identity.

  9. Martin, you crack me up. Your writing so sharp and well done, but oh so bitterly stinging. And funny! I especially love the bashing of "field rich targets." I wish so much I knew of you guys before I moved back to Ohio from San Antonio. :( Maybe I wouldn't have moved...

    Thank you!!

    P.S. Can you help spread the idea that Xian is the proper abbreviation and not Xtian? Since X stands for"christ" there is a superfluous t and it drives me nuts! I am afraid the Xtina Aguilera fans ruined it for me. I know, it's snotty and stupid, but it really bothers me.

  10. This article reminds me of the previous AE show where Matt mentions mockery as a useful means to disarm religion in the same fashion as mocking the kid on the bus who still believes in Santa Claus.

    Perhaps this new poll shows that at last the rational minority is finally starting to really go on the offensive and take religion to task.

  11. You heard the lady, people. Knock it off with the extra "t" already. Or Valerie will kick your ass!

  12. Skep. Sound-About people identifying as Christian although they don't believe in God, I would say that it is a high possibility. One can feel a connection to the culture even though he lost the faith. I sometimes say I am Roman Catholic, even though I don't believe in God anymore, simply because it is my cultural background. Even Dawkins considers himself a cultural Christian.


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