Atheism on the rise.

The rise of atheism in America
The number of disbelievers is growing, but they remain America’s least trusted minority. Why?
By The Week Staff | April 13, 2012


The National Atheist Organization's "Reason Rally" in March: 19 percent of the American public spurns organized religion in favor of skepticism about faith.
The National Atheist Organization’s “Reason Rally” in March: 19 percent of the American public spurns organized religion in favor of skepticism about faith.
Allison Shelley/Getty Images

ow many atheists are there?
It depends on your definition of the term. Only between 1.5 and 4 percent of Americans admit to so-called “hard atheism,” the conviction that no higher power exists. But a much larger share of the American public (19 percent) spurns organized religion in favor of a nondefined skepticism about faith. This group, sometimes collectively labeled the “Nones,” is growing faster than any religious faith in the U.S. About two thirds of Nones say they are former believers; 24 percent are lapsed Catholics and 29 percent once identified with other Christian denominations. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, claims these Nones as members of his tribe. “If you don’t have a belief in God, you’re an atheist,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you call yourself.”

Why are so many people leaving religion?
It’s primarily a backlash against the religious Right, say political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell. In their book, American Grace, they argue that the religious Right’s politicization of faith in the 1990s turned younger, socially liberal Christians away from churches, even as conservatives became more zealous. The dropouts were turned off by churches’ Old Testament condemnation of homosexuals, premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. The Catholic Church’s sex scandals also prompted millions to equate religion with moralistic hypocrisy. “While the Republican base has become ever more committed to mixing religion and politics,” Putnam and Campbell write, “the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction.” As society becomes more secular, researchers say, doubters are more confident about identifying themselves as nonbelievers. “The collapse of institutional religion in the first 10 years of this century [has] freed so many people to say they don’t really care,” said author Diana Butler Bass.

How are nonbelievers perceived?
Most polls suggest that atheists are among the most disliked groups in the U.S. One study last year asked participants whether a fictional hit-and-run driver was more likely to be an atheist or a rapist. A majority chose atheist. In 2006, another study found that Americans rated atheists as less likely to agree with their vision of America than Muslims, Hispanics, or homosexuals. “Wherever there are religious majorities, atheists are among the least trusted people,” said University of British Columbia sociologist Will M. Gervais. As a result, avowed atheists are rare in nearly all areas of public life. Of the 535 legislators in Congress, for example, only one — Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) — calls himself an atheist. Few sports stars or Hollywood celebrities own up to having no religious faith.

Why so much distrust?
Many Americans raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition are convinced that atheists can have no moral compass. Azim Shariff, a University of Oregon psychologist who studies religious thinking, sums up how believers view nonbelievers: “They don’t fear God, so we should distrust them. They do not have the same moral obligations as others.” The antipathy may have actually grown with the recent emergence of “New Atheist” writers such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, who have launched impassioned attacks on organized religion. Dawkins has encouraged his followers to “ridicule” anyone who could believe in “an unforgiving control freak” and “a capriciously malevolent bully” like the God portrayed in the Old Testament. Dawkins’s harsh approach, said Barbara J. King, an anthropologist at the College of William and Mary, has confirmed “some of the negative stereotypes associated with the nonreligious — intolerance of the faithful, first and foremost.” 

How have atheists responded to this negative image?
A coalition of nonbelievers is out to make atheism more acceptable, starting with last month’s “Reason Rally” on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where thousands stood up for their right to not believe. Silverman of American Atheists, who helped organize the rally, said it was intended to give heart to young, “closet atheists” who fear the social stigma of being “outed,” in much the same way closeted gays do. “We will never be closeted again,” he said. Some within the movement advocate taking a more conciliatory approach to believers, too. Alain de Botton, the Anglo-Swiss writer of the new book Religion for Atheists, assails Dawkins as being “very narrow-minded,” and praises religions as “the most successful educational and intellectual movements the planet has ever witnessed.”

Will atheism ever be accepted?
If growth continues at the current rate, one in four Americans will profess no religious faith within 20 years. Silverman hopes that as nonbelief spreads, atheists can become a “legitimate political segment of the American population,” afforded the same protections as religious groups and ethnic minorities. But he’s not advocating a complete secular takeover of the U.S. — nor would he be likely to achieve one, given the abiding religious faith of most Americans. “We don’t want the obliteration of religion; we don’t want religion wiped off the face of the earth,” Silverman said. “All we demand is equality.”

Atheists in foxholes
Atheists are barely visible in politics and entertainment, but they are clamoring for recognition in another area of public life — the military. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers estimates that 40,000 soldiers identify as nonbelievers, and counts the most famous casualty of the war in Afghanistan, former NFL star Pat Tillman, as one of its own. In attempting to secure the same rights and support enjoyed by religious soldiers, the association lobbies against the idea that “there are no atheists in foxholes,” and wants “atheist chaplains” made available for the ranks of the armed nonbelievers. Jason Torpy, the association’s president, says that nonbelievers outnumber every religious group in the military except Christians, yet receive no ethical and family counseling geared to their own nonbeliefs. “These are things that chaplains do for everybody,” he said, “except us.”

The sense that some people lack.


I am always in awe of the complete idiocy of most of the population. I try to keep a level head and an open mind, but most things that sheeple say are just completely misguided and absolutely in error. The reference for this statement comes from a conversation with a co-worker in which another decided to add her off-kilter idiotic twaddle to the mix. We were discussing the predilection of mankind to opt out of labor if given the choice to receive monetary compensation without expectations attached. The truth is is that if offered something for nothing, many people will be content to sit on their well appointed asses shoving Bon-Bons in their faces as the rest of America works to support them. Most knee-jerk liberals disagree and believe that it is the Government’s fault that these parasites do not exhibit personal responsibility in their worthless everyday lives. I, on the other hand, believe that if a person is too weak and simple minded to comprehend that they are supposed to work for a living, then the Gov. should trial them cold-turkey with ZERO support!

The Litmus test here is that if welfare soul-suckers are challenged to achieve, then they might return to personal responsibility and actually start to earn their keep and actually contribute to the tax base instead of rape it! This seems just too against liberal tenets to comprehend now doesn’t it?! Expect a fat pile of simpleton shit to do for him/herself? Why that’s just fucking crazy talk inspired by those bad ‘ol conservatives! No, it’s just completely sensible, reasonable expectations of any American with able arms and legs. Giving a person a living degrades society as a whole, fosters laziness and bankrupts resources that could be used for those truly in need.

The ‘low income family’ should be discouraged, not promoted. I was poor myself and worked tirelessly to educate myself and claw my own way out of poverty so as NOT to be a burden to society. My wife and I waited to have children so that we could afford to raise and feed them and this was as simple as keeping my dick in my pants, ( using abundant FREE birth control instead of idiot excuses ), and putting my goddamned nose to the grindstone per the expectation of a working-age adult. I made no excuses and used no Gov. assistance even at the lowest of times. I even joined the Army to pay for college because sacrifices are what is required to obtain wants and needs. I, having been raised homeless for the first 17 years of my life, could not imagine taking a handout from the hard working people of this country while I had a completely normal functioning body and the capability of finding work and I find it abhorrent that such a large percentage of the population can sit around the fucking TV and justify complete laziness! No, not all people receiving assistance are lazy, but an incredible amount of them are just lazy flotsam drifting by on a sea of welfare dollars while the rest of us work our asses off.

Now don’t get me started on corporate welfare sponsored by the masses of asshole politicians that the sheep just keep supporting! These fucknuts bankroll congressman, presidents and representatives to ensure a steady stream of pork barrel legislation to ensure that they chingetty-ching cash fucking large! Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs(of shit), Lehman Bros. pull the strings and the puppets dance! Corporate billionaires erode the middle class to create throngs of desperate credit card slaves that can’t afford to fight for better wages and end up working until death. The old American dream of retirement is gone as the system convinces the sheep to spend all of their dough on shit that is completely superfluous. On the back end there are the shit sucking masses of lazy welfare assholes and on the front end there are a bunch of corporate welfare recipients hoarding billions of dollars squeezed out of YOUR ass!! You get fucked when your alive and you get fucked when your dead-the new American way!

The system needs an ample supply of slaves to grind away for the privileged masses and to provide for the mindless ghetto flotsam that take their pablum from the little box in the living room. Hey! If I get a Coach purse then I can be just like a Kartrashian! If only they could put a manual for the English language in the bags and sell literacy as a fad….Of course why stop there? Why not make work a fad so that the lazy bastards think that it’s cool to work for a living? Hell, why not get convicts in the system an education and put them into the work force? Why not have offenders clean public areas and work the entire day away as punishment instead of letting them do drugs, watch cable TV and bend their cellmates over a stump and ass-fuck them? Too simple! You might actually spread logic and prevent corruption! Wouldn’t want that now would we???

Well, since I’m blogging on 6 cups of coffee at 3 in the AM, I will end this post before it turns into more of the dark realm of good, simple and logical solutions that make no money for billionaire contractors!!!!!PEACE.