How do nonreligious people identify themselves? Most religious surveys don’t look very closely at the nonreligious — the last Pew survey didn’t include the term “humanist,” for example. Personally, I like humanist, atheist or “nothing”, depending on the context.
the first ever rigorous survey instrument designed specifically to gather demographic and attitudinal information exclusively about America’s non-religious community. Past surveys have been based on religious individuals, with the non-religious being little more than an afterthought. Professor Galen will begin data analysis soon, and later in 2008, he will give [Center for Inquiry Michigan] a special presentation to us on the results of the survey.
I got an invite through CFI and posted it somewhere for others, before realizing it was a unique URL meant for a single participant. (Oops.) The invite suggested the participant pool is restricted to members of atheist/etc. organizations (including members of their email lists, apparently), but if you really want to take it, try emailing email@example.com.
I imagine it will have a positive effect on balance, and be mostly accurate, but I’m expecting it to be at least a little unfair. In a Larry King appearance last year he praised Michael Moore, and the trailer highlights the unremarkable fact that it’s being produced by the same studio as Fahrenheit 9/11 (unremarkable because Lionsgate has done 60+ other films since then).
“The stuff that really brings people together, and makes us happy to live together, originates from a caring and thoughtful mind that’s been exposed to many streams of education.”
That was the key point I took away from a presentation — talk, acoustic concert, and Q&A — by Greg Graffin, frontman and co-songwriter for the seminal punk band Bad Religion, who was honored with an award the Saturday before last at Harvard’s Memorial Church. (more…)
One of my favorite bloggers, John Remy of Mind on Fire, asked me to write a post for MoF’s series Leaving the Garden, which asks people to reflect on their journey away from religious conviction in a narrative fashion. I heartily support this, since talking about religion/irreligion solely in terms of intellectual arguments can be tiresome. My post just went up here. The opening:
The first garden I remember was by our country house in Ohio, near Steubenville, a little town nine miles from the Pennsylvania border. We were there because my father wanted to attend Franciscan University, as it was a hotbed of charismatic Catholicism at the time. But by the time I was six, we moved from Ohio for the same reason we had moved there from Phoenix: my father’s all-consuming passion for finding the truth about God.
The most interesting finding to me is the “Unaffiliated” group, which makes up 16.1 percent of the total adult population. About a third of those are at least somewhat religious, just not any religion in particular, leaving the nonreligious total at 10.3 percent — 1.6 atheist, 2.4 agnostic, and 6.3 just plain secular. A quick read might suggest that the whole 16.1 percent is nonreligious, so I want to emphasize the more accurate 10.3 percent figure.
[Update: I generally love the think tank Center for Inquiry, so I was slightly disappointed to see them eliding "unaffiliated" with "non-religious" this press release.]
Breaking it down by percentage, apparently about 16 percent of the nonreligious in the U.S. identify as atheist, 23 percent as agnostic, and 61 percent as secular. I suppose this might inform the debate about whether people should identify as atheistsor not.
Unaffiliated is also the fastest-growing group: only 7.3 percent of the population says they were unaffiliated as a child, meaning it’s more than doubled in the past generation, despite not having a very high retention rate (many people raised unaffiliated later become religious), and the unaffiliated are disproportionately young.
The 16.1 percent figure basically confirms the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), which found 14.3 percent of the U.S. population identifying as nonreligious, as well as 16 percent having a secular outlook. (The two groups probably mostly overlapped.)
Other points of interest:
Unitarian Universalists come in a 0.3 percent. Assuming roughly 225 million adults in the U.S., that gives us about 675,000 UUs. (Another blogger estimates 683,000.) What’s shocking is that the Unitarian Universalist Association’s own figure is about a quarter of this figure, suggesting that most self-identified UUs aren’t a member of any UU church (society, etc.). More discussion at Philocrites and the above blogger, and elsewhere no doubt.
Quakers clock in at “less than 0.3 percent,” meaning “less than 675,000.” Perhaps a lot less, since our own count is only 87,000, but as with UUs, there are probably many who identify as Quaker who aren’t in the membership rolls. Don’t see much discussion of this yet, perhaps because it doesn’t actually tell us anything we didn’t already know.
“Spiritual but not religious” are also a tiny “less than 0.3 percent.” It would be interesting to compare this to the larger percentage (if I recall correctly) found by the ARIS.
I'm a developer by night, a chef by day, and a musician every so often. This is the inside of my brain.
RT @fivethirtyeight: Another question: is it easier to hide from thousands of law-enforcement officers, or hundreds of thousands of people?