Opinion

Religious unaffiliation is growing in the US. Why isn’t it in Congress?

Vice President Mike Pence, right, administers the Senate oath of office to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., during a mock swearing in ceremony in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 3, 2019, as the 116th Congress begins. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(RNS) — This fall, voters in the Midwest elected two Muslim women to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first female members of their faith to enter Congress. The same day, Arizona elected Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who, while not the first of her kind, is even rarer: Sinema is the only person serving in Congress to identify as religiously unaffiliated — putting her in a caucus of less than 0.2 percent of the lawmaking body.

Even after adding in two representatives who identify as “Unitarian Universalist” and the eighteen who “Don’t know/refused,” just over 2.5 percent of those serving in Congress attest to an untraditional theistic faith or no faith at all.

Compare this to the general American public: fewer than half consider religion to be an important part of their lives. More pertinently, in a landmark 2015 Pew Research Center survey titled “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” 22.8 percent of respondents identified as “religiously unaffiliated.” Of Democratic voters, the unaffiliated were the single largest “faith” group, at 28 percent. Unaffiliated Republican voters represented just 14 percent of respondents.

If an increasing number of people are not affiliating with a religious group and attendance at religious activities is believed to be in decline, why aren’t elected officials’ religious affiliations reflecting the trend?

As the Pew numbers suggest, the divisions in our politics may be to blame.

The party divide reflects a values divide. While the majority of both Democratic and Republican voters may agree that religion’s influence on American life is decreasing, Democrats are much more likely to accept that trend. For many Republicans, the decline is seen as a problem that should be corrected.

Graphic courtesy of Pew Research Center

If the majority of the GOP’s base, which identifies as either Christian or Mormon, sees the waning influence of religion on American life as a disaster in the making, it follows that identifying as religiously unaffiliated could by itself be a deterrent to voting for a candidate — even if the candidate’s political positions are in sync with the voter’s.

On the other side, while the number of non-religious voters actively involved in politics is growing, it’s unlikely that non-religious citizens would choose not to vote for a candidate whose faith determines their positions (except for those few whose antipathy toward religion actually drives their politics). Data prior to the 2018 midterms indicated strongly that policy — not religion — was top of mind for voters.

But any reasonable politician may be disinclined to identify as unaffiliated because of the public perception of atheists.

What is that perception? Atheists — ironically, given the state of civil discourse in our current Congress — have a reputation for inciting fierce debate. They are seen as killjoys who press towns and villages to take down nativity scenes and make demands about prayer in schools. Not content simply to aggravate those who cherish religious traditions, the perception goes, they actually poke fun at people’s religious beliefs.

This perception results in anger toward nonbelievers of all varieties and a tendency to paint all who do not profess traditional theistic beliefs with the same brush.

But there are many ways to have faith beyond traditional theism. The members of the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester in New York, where I am a clergy person, focus on how to live an ethical life rather than worship a particular god or gods. As is likely true of those who attend any of the 23 member societies of the American Ethical Union (AEU), we describe ourselves as agnostic or humanistic, since we don’t profess belief or non-belief in a deity. Few of us would describe ourselves as atheists, at least in part because we bristle at the thought of being defined by an absence of belief.

At the same time, our avoidance of the term is also doubtless because of the emotional reactions to what others think atheists are.

For politicians, the negative associations are compounded by the idea that disbelief is unpatriotic. Being branded an atheist also incurs suspicions in the minds of voters that the politician has no moral center, lacks integrity, and is probably dishonest.

In fact (though facts seem to have little effect on people’s attitudes toward non-belief), atheists are, on the whole, less nationalistic, prejudiced and authoritarian than the average American. What’s more, we atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers tend to put a high value on scientifically objective truths.

As the 2016 presidential election demonstrated, however, personal integrity is not a criterion for a substantial number of voters determining their choice of candidates. The key factor, when push comes to shove, is not honesty or objective fact but, rather, alignment with one’s attitudes and emotions.

Perhaps the growing percentage of the religiously unaffiliated among the voting public will encourage candidates to focus their attention on morally significant concerns and to grapple more deeply with the urgent matters before us. Atheists can do that as well as anyone.

As importantly, the nation would be better served to have a variety of religious points of view represented in Congress. As a country founded on the principle of religious freedom, we should actively encourage — not discourage — openness in our elected officials when it comes to their beliefs. And we would finally have a Congress that looked like America.

(Bart Worden is leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester and executive director of the American Ethical Union, a national organization devoted to ethics and social justice. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

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Bart Worden

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  • “…which identifies as either Christian or Mormon…”

    Burn!

    Some voters just want to elect a person they think is better than they are. Some politicians think it sells better to be perceived as god fearing.

  • It’s just as odd that in a strongly Protestant-dominated country, the Supreme Court is made up of Jews and Catholics.

  • It could be that religion places more obligation on its members to be socially active, which brings them more into contact with be politically active.

  • Give it time. Once the older generation passes away the younger generation will elect people who more nearly reflect their values. Right now, it’s mostly older people who can afford to run for Congress and it’s older people who vote in disproportionate numbers compared to young people. So now, Congress is reflecting an older demographic. That will eventually change, There is always a time lag in these matters.

  • True. Trump promised them the holy grail and folks were ready for a non-politician. However, many folks will vote by party line regardless of the candidate because the alternative is unthinkable. This applies to both parties. I voted for Clinton even though I dislike her immensely because Trump was not a choice for me.

  • Protestants are dumber than Jews or Catholics? Their success is more interesting given the biases of the WASPS that dominated the field.

  • (1) TRUE OR FALSE: From among all the people in “‘America’s Changing Religious Landscape’, 22.8 percent … identified as ‘religiously unaffiliated.’ … But any reasonable politician may be disinclined to identify as unaffiliated because of the public perception of atheists … that disbelief is unpatriotic … [and] that the [atheist] politician has no moral center, lacks integrity, and is probably dishonest.”

    FALSE: NONES AIN’T ATHEISTS, ‘YO ! “The number of people who acknowledge no religious affiliation (known as religious nones) … is not necessarily the same as being atheist. … [Of] the proportion of Americans who call themselves ‘unaffiliated’ … [ONLY] 3% of the total population … call themselves atheists and [ONLY] 4% … identify as agnostic.” So, since 22.8% minus 3% minus 4% equals to 15.8%, that means from among all the people in “America’s Changing Religious Landscape”, only 15.8% are Religious Nones-sensicals! INSIGNIFICANT. And Ashiests & Eggnogshticks EVEN LESS SIGNIFICANT.

    Source: (1) The Economist, May 16, 2018, “The elusive phenomenon of churches without God”.

  • (2) TRUE OR FALSE: “Sen. Kyrsten Sinema … is the only person serving in Congress to identify as religiously unaffiliated … [even though] any reasonable politician may be disinclined to identify as unaffiliated because of the public perception of atheists … that disbelief is unpatriotic … [and] that the [atheist] politician has no moral center, lacks integrity, and is probably dishonest.”

    FALSE: POLITICAL NONES LIKE HER CAN’T STAND ATHEISTS, ‘YO ! “Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona … seems to think ‘atheist’ is a dirty word. … Her campaign released this statement shortly after her victory: ‘(Rep. Sinema) believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.’ … It implies there is something unbefitting about the lives and characters of atheists or nonbelievers. … I find her response to being labeled an atheist troubling. … As a proud atheist and humanist, I’m disheartened that the only member of Congress who openly identifies as nonreligious has forcefully distanced herself from atheism in a way that puts down those of us who do not believe in God.”

    Source: (2) Chris Stedman, “My take: ‘Atheist’ isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman”, CNN, January 8, 2013.

  • LGBT-obsessed and -driven minds like yours can’t possibly have an inkling, let alone fathom, as to “Why people with no religion are projected to decline as a share of the world’s population”, as reported by Michael Lipka and David McClendon in Pew Research Center, April 7, 2017:

    “In coming decades, the global share of religiously unaffiliated people … which includes atheists, agnostics and those who do not identify with any religion in particular … is actually expected to fall, according to Pew Research Center’s new study on the future of world religions. … [Their] growth is projected to occur at the same time that other religious groups – and the global population overall – are growing even faster. … [And so] people with no religion will make up about 13% of the world’s population in 2060, down from roughly 16% as of 2015. This relative decline is largely attributable to the fact that religious ‘nones’ are, on average, older and have fewer children than people who are affiliated with a religion … [and because] the number of deaths will begin to exceed the number of births to unaffiliated mothers by 2030 [in Asia and] by 2035 … in Europe … [And because] the Christian population in China is rising while the religiously unaffiliated population is falling … – religious ‘nones’ could decline as a share of the world’s population even more than the Pew Research Center study projects.”

  • The simple reason for this is that most candidates are running in districts where they or their handlers think an “affiliation” is more positive to the voters than stating a “none”. I fail to believe that religion is really more important to Congress members’ real lives than it is to the general public. All evidence suggests, for instance, that your president never gave a hoot about it his whole life, but he has an “affiliation”. There are members of Congress like that too, undoubtedly.

  • Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Andrew Cuomo and Ted Kennedy are perfect examples of politicians who use(d) their “faith” when politically practical – but are the furthest thing from a faithful Catholic.
    They should be honest and admit that they are “nones”; or better yet – anti-Catholic.

  • I agree time is needed…Christians make up only a bit more than 50% of people under 30 in the US. We see where this is headed…

    However…what is needed is nonreligious, atheist, agnostic, pagans, etc. to run for elections regularly…many will lose at first — but then it becomes routine. People won’t care anymore, baby Jesus cries…and all of the sudden we are like secular Europe.

  • It is somewhat of a farce. There are not as many practicing Christians in Congress and government as is advertised and plenty of non-religious people in office. They can’t admit it yet….until the pearl clutching Silent generation and older Boomers pass on.

    This is like how nobody admits to watching porn…yet somehow porn makes up about 25% or more of internet traffic !!

  • Agreed !! — “Faithful Catholic”…kind of like saying “Military Intelligence”.

    It may get them more votes than people would expect. However, Cardinal Dolan would have a stroke…but he wouldn’t ex-communicate anybody.

  • I have looked at the article that you quoted. It seems to be based on birthrates in different groups. However, the increase of religions depends not just on believers having more children than unbelievers but in passing on their beliefs to the children they have. At the moment, young people are increasingly turning away from religion. This can be seen in the United States http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/generational-cohort/, the UK https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/13/uk-losing-faith-religion-young-reject-parents-beliefs , Canada http://www.pewforum.org/2013/06/27/canadas-changing-religious-landscape/ , and Australia https://mccrindle.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Faith-and-Belief-in-Australia-Report_McCrindle_2017.pdf

    Of course, this might change, but at the moment the trend for religion seems to be downwards.

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  • (1) ALL THAT MATTERS: ALL’S GOOD IN THE U.S. WITH EVANGELICAL MILLENNIALS

    “Evangelicals Once Again Dominate List of Top-growing Large UM Congregations”, Juicy Ecumenism”, November 20, 2018.

    “Some U.S. Christian Groups May be Declining, But Not Evangelicals”, Facts and Trends, March 22, 2018.

    “‘Mainline’ churches are emptying. The political effects could be huge”, Vox, July 14, 2017. Note: “[NOT ‘Evangelical’] churches are emptying”!]

    “Liberal churches are dying. But conservative churches are thriving”, Washington Post, January 4, 2017.

    “Examining the Sources of Conservative Church Growth: Where Are the New Evangelical Movements Getting Their Numbers?”, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 36, Number 1, March 1997, pages 71-80.

  • (2) ALL THAT MATTERS: ALL’S GOOD WORLDWIDE WITH EVANGELICAL MILLENNIALS

    “Evangelical Churches Booming In Cuba Amid Tensions”, CBS, March 27, 2017.

    “The surprising growth of evangelical churches in France”, France 24, March 19, 2018.

    “Spanish evangelicals report unprecedented growth, now more than 4,000 churches”, Christian Today, January 24, 2018.

    “Evangelicalism is spreading among the Chinese of South-East Asia”, The Economist, January 4, 2018.

    “Even in Canada, Conservative Churches Are Growing”, Christianity Today, April 21, 2017.

    “Why has Pentecostalism grown so dramatically in Latin America?”, Pew Research Center, November 14, 2014.

    “Evangelical churches boom in Switzerland”, Swiss Info, December 4, 2011.

  • Democratic and liberal Christians are still Christian… haven’t I schooled you on this point once already?

  • They aren’t. No more Christian then you are.
    The church should have excommunicated them years ago for their own benefit.

  • It was with an open (slightly christian biased) mind that I started my quest for evidence of the existence of “Jesus” and a definitive answer to resolve the endless contradictions within all versions of bibles. It was something of a surprise that I discovered that absolute fact that there is no historical evidence of the existence of Jesus or the centuries later written diverse and different legends that can be traced in prototype form to bibles that were fabricated in the late 4th century.
    I remain open minded and any form of evidence would inspire further investigation and evaluation of the apparently fictional “Jesus” and contradictory NT tales.

    Some who remain enslaved by religion reference the originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” who was “borrowed” by middle eastern tribes who were reinvented themselves as “Hebrew/Israelite” around 500/600 BCE. Yahweh was among a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses but even his beautiful wife/consort was forcefully removed from the religious mythology before being passed down to later generations.

    “Asherah, the Shekinah, consort and beloved of Yahweh. God-the-Mother. Her sacred pillars or poles once stood right beside Yahweh’s altar, embracing it. Moses and Aaron both carried one of these Asherah “poles” as a sacred staff of power. The Children of Israel were once dramatically healed simply by gazing at the staff with serpents suspended from it. This symbol, the snakes and the staff, has become the modern universal symbol for doctors and healers.* Asherah was also widely known in the Middle Eastern ancient world as a Goddess of Healing. Then She was removed forcibly from the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures around 400 or 500 B.C. Her priestesses & priests, known by the headbands they wore, worshiped on hill-tops, such as Zion, Mount of Olives, Har Megiddo and countless others. Daughter of Zion, a term found numerous times in the Old Testament, was perhaps a term for a priestess of Asherah. It later came to mean the “City of God,” or Jerusalem herself. As the “official” state worship became increasingly male oriented, and the establishment became hostile toward all forms of Asherah worship, a time of conflict and bloodshed lasting over a hundred years began. Those that still clung to Her worship paid the price with their lives at the hands of King Josiah and other rabid Yahwists. (Story in the 2nd Kings ). But She could not be torn from the hearts and souls of Her people.

    Asherah from the Religion of the Canaanites

    She was the wife of El in Ugaritic mythology, and is the goddess who is also called Athirau-Yammi: “She Who Walks on (or in) the Sea.” She was the chief goddess of Tyre in the 15th century BC, and bore the appellation qudshu, “holiness.” In the OT Asherah appears as a goddess by the side of Baal, whose consort she evidently became, at least among the Canaanites of the south. However, most biblical references to the name point obviously to some cult object of wood, which might be cut down and burned, possibly the goddesses’ image (1 Kings 15:13, 2 King 21:7). Her prophets are mentioned (1 Kings 18:19), and the vessels used in her service referred to (2 Kings 23:4). The existence of numerous symbols, in each of which the goddess was believed to be immanent, led to the creation of numerous forms of her person, which were described as Asherim. The cult object itself, whatever it was, was utterly detestible to faithful worshippers of Yahweh (1 Kings 15:13), and was set up on the high places beside the “altars of incense” (hammanim) and the “stone pillars” (masseboth). The translation of asherah by “grove” in some translations follows a singular tradition preserved in the LXX and the Vulgate which apparently connects the goddess’ image with the usual place of its adoration.

    A Hebrew inscription on a broken storage jar, found in Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in north-eastern Sinai and dated from the beginning of the eighth century BCE has three primitive figures: a standing male figure in the foreground; a female figure just behind him; and a seated musician in the background. The Hebrew inscription above the drawing reads: ‘I bless you by Yhwh of Samaria and his Asherah’ (Dever, 1984; King, 1989). Furthermore, a tomb inscription from el-Qom in Judea, dated to the eighth century BCE too, concludes with the words: ‘to Yhwh and his Asherah’ (Margalit, 1989, 1990 and further references there).

    Asherah, like Anat, is a well-documented goddess of the northwest Semitic pantheon. We remember that, according to the Bible itself, in the ninth century BCE Asherah was officially worshipped in Israel; her cult was matronized by Jezebel who, supposedly, imported it from her native Phoenician homeland. Other traces in the Bible either angrily acknowledge her worship as goddess (2 Kings 14.13, for instance, where another royal lady is involved), or else demote her from goddess to a sacred tree or pole set up near an altar (2 Kings 13.6, 17.16; Deuteronomy 16.21 and more). The apparent need for the hostile and widely distributed polemics against her worship constitutes evidence for its continued popularity. Linguistically, Margalit claims (1989), ‘Asherah’ signifies ‘[she] who walks behind’, displaying a prototypic if divine attitude that befits a wife (and is reflected in the Kuntillet Ajrud drawing). Thus both the partially suppressed and distorted biblical evidence and the archaeological evidence combine to suggest one conclusion. The cult of a goddess, considered the spouse of Yhwh, was celebrated throughout the First Temple era in the land, and beyond this period at the Jewish settlement in Elephantine (in Egypt).”
    http://northernway.org/hgod

    A rapidly growing number of educated folk question the origin and longevity of the 4th century Roman “Jesus” cult they called “christianity”?
    In the 4th century Roman Empire fewer than 5% of the population belonged to any of the several messianic cults but when the Emperor Constantine felt the need to discredit the old gods and his mother had become enthralled with a messianic cult – Constantine took measures to establish a then new religion that was rejected as “heresy” by most folk so it was decreed that conversion was required and all who continued to reject the heresy were casually slaughtered while the people’s most holy artifacts and temples were systematically destroyed. NO one knows how many people were murdered to establish the “Jesus” cult as the only tolerated religion but we do have history of the brutality with which acceptance of christian rule was maintained through torture, terror, crusade and inquisition until the establishment of universal education and free, secular democracy overturned the tyranny of christian regimes.

    Today education and free, secular democracy has proved to be the antidote to religious indoctrination and fewer than 18% of Americans and fewer than 6% of Europeans remain actively involved within any cult, sect & business of religion as demonstrated by the attendance figures published by christian cults and sects and the rapidly growing number of empty redundant churches that litter the villages, towns and cities of the developed world.

    I doubt that many of the declining number of die hard religionists will absorb or investigate the historical truth of this – but once read they may find they will not be able to forget the truth of this.

    Meanwhile; the millennial generation and generation Z appear utterly apathetic to all ridiculous religious superstitions and as congregations age and die – an ever more rapidly increasing number of empty, rotting redundant churches litter the villages, towns and cities of the educated, now predominantly secular developed world..

  • The author has mistakenly assumed the unaffiliated it The Nines are largely atheist. Studies indicate many retain an interest in spirituality, but one disconnected from mainstream religious institutions. We can wonder why Congress does not reflect the Nones, but we need to properly understand that demographic.

  • Never be afraid of being honest. I am an Atheist and not afraid to admit it! It does bring me more than my fair share of abuse! But I can deal with it AND it helps make my points–it isn’t what religion a person follows or whether they follow any ALL that matters are our day to day words and actions: how we treat other people, how we treat other living things–plants, animals and our planet, and how we treat ourselves. All the rest the doctrines and dogmas (official and unofficial), political party promises and platforms are distractions that lead us astray.

  • “She was the wife of El in Ugaritic mythology, and is the goddess who is also called Athirau-Yammi: “She Who Walks on (or in) the Sea.”
    The goddess Iemanja in Candomble, a sea goddess, is often conflated in Brazil with The virgin Mary, aka Stella Maris, or star of the sea. It is not unusual to see a small candomble chapel to Iemanja on the grounds of a church dedicated to Mary.

  • As one of those Boomers who have lived “church-free” for a decade, there are a lot more of us “church-free Boomers” in the real world than there are in the halls of Congress, especially among the gee0pee. Forty-five years or more of holy hypocrites after high school has caused a lot of us to bail on church-going. I sometimes flirt with attending services at a progressive church, until I come to my senses. The holy hypocrites of my generation are the folks who give Boomers a bad name.

  • Hello HpO,

    I looked up some of your sources. An article about Canadian churches struck me as significant. As this article made it clear:
    ‘Amid the decades-long decline in mainline Protestantism in North America, researchers in Canada recently found an “elusive sample” of congregations whose growth has bucked the trend.

    ‘The key characteristic these exceptional Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and United churches had in common? Evangelical theology.’https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/may/even-canada-conservative-churches-growing-mainline-theology.html

    This article makes it clear that the growth in Evangelical churches bucked the general declining trend in religious observance.

    Another article you referred to made it clear that the trend for conservative denominations to outperform the mainline churches is far from new: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1387883?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    Another article showed that though more conservative denominations have done better than more liberal denominations, sometimes this has meant that they held steady or declined more slowly. https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/7/14/15959682/evangelical-mainline-voting-patterns-trump

    The general religious decline is greater than any gains in more conservative congregations. That explains why general numbers of religious observance have continued to fall even though individual congregations may have bucked this trend,

  • Bottomline: what Vox’ Lyman Stone is dreaming of when he wrote that, is “what happens when the South is freed of the moral restraint of the Southern Baptists — the Southwest of Catholicism, or the West of Mormonism.” AIN’T HAPPENIN’.

  • In my lifetime, I can only cite two presidents for whom religion played any real role in their lives – Bush 2 and Carter. All the rest professed some manner of religious belief and put it on display when necessary for the voters, but that was a facade built of electoral necessity.

  • I’m not sure what you mean by this. It would be hard to maintain an argument that religion is necessary for public order.

    I don’t think that the most religious state, Mississippi, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/how-religious-is-your-state/?state=mississippi has more public order than the least religious state, New Hampshire http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/how-religious-is-your-state/?state=new-hampshire.

    Canada is less religious than the United States, but it would be hard to argue that public order is less in Canada. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/06/27/canadas-changing-religious-landscape/

    I also think that it would be hard to argue that British Columbia, the least religious of the Provinces, would have a greater problem with public order than the rest of Canada. Certainly the murder rate appears to be on the low side. https://www.statista.com/statistics/433671/homicide-rate-in-canada-by-province/

    This, of course, is not an argument for or against religion. It just means that religion does not have as much effect on questions of public order as some might hope or fear.

  • Speaking of which:

    (1) ALL THAT MATTERS: ALL’S GOOD IN THE U.S. WITH EVANGELICAL MILLENNIALS

    (2) ALL THAT MATTERS: ALL’S GOOD WORLDWIDE WITH EVANGELICAL MILLENNIALS

    Psst … “Christianity on the wane in Australia, but Pentecostal church bucks trend “, The Guardian, June 27, 2017.

  • I wouldn’t deny for a moment that some denominations, such as the Pentecostals, are bucking the trend to less religion. I don’t blame you for drawing attention to the success of the Pentecostals. However, the bigger story at the moment is the decline of religion in general. This is not an argument for or against religious belief, but just an observation on what is happening at the moment.

  • 1 – The Congress has NEVER reflected the general populace.

    2 – That “religious unaffliation” is growing in the US is supported primarily by polling. After the last presidential election adults should take polls with a large grain of salt.

    3 – Because a significant percentage of politicians are marketed like laundry detergent, they’ll feign a religious affiliation for the gullible. For example, one prominent pro-abortion politician was seen on the House floor on Ash Wednesday feigning penitence

    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6oJqFz3q2oM/XIGI4SN_oGI/AAAAAAAAW_s/4U_eoeP_Acg7Hw0YQSOEc1PNUBKWKARwgCLcBGAs/s640/Brimstone%2B1.jpg

    for her opposition to her church’s anti-abortion teachings.

  • Of course the problem you run into is that most nonreligious, atheist, agnostic, and pagan folks don’t do more than you and ElagaBS do … carp and whine.

  • The other explanation is that folks like yourself who addicted to porn spend 20x or more the time on the internet than normal people.

  • “It does bring me more than my fair share of abuse!”

    On-line it appears that your comments are what provide you your fair share of abuse.

  • Indeed.

    RNS has an odd fixation with Nones and an even odder interpretation of what they signify.

  • Only 1 scientific explanation why Ashiests, Eggnogshticks, Nones-sensicals, ElleGeeBeeTease, ad-LIBS & P(h)rogs all buy into “that ‘religious unaffliation’ is growing” Conspiracy Theory:

    They’ve all been Pee-ew’d by … Pew!

  • As religion declines to an ever smaller minority of the population across all the developed western world it signifies that education and free, secular democracy is the cure for primitive childish superstition and the lies and corruption of any dishonest business or brand of religion.

    Fewer than 18% of Americans remain active members of the hundreds of cults still in business in the USA and fewer than 6% of Europeans can be found in a place of religious indoctrination during any average day of any average week. An even more obvious indication of the accelerating decline of religion are the rapidly growing number of empty, rotting redundant churches that litter our villages, towns and cities.

    The rump of fascistic totalitarian religionists who cling to power must realise that their days are numbered while democracy continues to gain dominance over theocracy and autocracy.

    The third largest and fastest growing human demographic have discovered the antidote to religion in education and free, secular democracy and that boon to humanity is spreading and aspired to even among the millennials in lands still dominated and terrorised by religion. The time for another Arab Spring may not be too long in arriving while the millennials of the west are the least religious cohort in history and will take over as the religionists age and die out.

  • Fewer than 18% of Americans are active members of any cult. sect and business of religion and that number declines each year.
    The population of the USA are predominantly “nones” yet they appear to be too scared to proclaim their intelligent skepticism – unlike their fellow Europeans who shun religion and proudly claim rational atheism.

    The last few bubbles of childish superstition contract rapidly.

  • The annual attendance figures of the American Church Leaders organisation reveal that fewer than 18% of Americans still go to church even though a little more than double that number lie that they do in polls and surveys.

    Your conspiracy theory burns on the fire of evidence, Hp0.

  • because the system dosent work based on representing the demographics, they just fill up with the majority group

  • I used to be against term limits on the basis that we the voters should decide.
    But there is so much built-in advantage for incumbents that I think term limits would be a good thing.
    The old white male Congressmen that have been in office for decades don’t necessarily represent “us” any more.

  • “Fewer than 18% of Americans are active members of any cult. sect and business of religion and that number declines each year.”

    So the polls say.

    The increasing membership of the conservative and moderate churches says otherwise.

    Drawing straight lines through data points to predict the future is a typical statistical fallacy.

  • “As religion declines to an ever smaller minority of the population across all the developed western world …” presents a number of problems, not the least of which is it represents wishful thinking on your part.

  • The secularization thesis has been repudiated, even by some of its advocates like the late Peter Berger. Human beings are inherently religious and religion continues to grow. The comments you respond to above represent secular wishes for a nonreligious world, not to mention the fantasy of a non historical Jesus (atheism’s equivalent of young earth creationism), not the realities we face.

  • It is indeed a good argument that all our mythologies “descended” from the religions of the earliest people.

    I do have to say, though, that those animal heads in your image are a bit troublesome, despite the rather wonderful bodies. If I’m going to have to make love to something not quite human, my preference goes more to the aliens in avatar..

  • What is needed is the party of The Great Kibosh of All Religions!!! What animal should we use as its symbol? How about the Lion King as he devours the donkey and the elephant??

  • I agree with you, but our position is not the semi-official position at Religion News Service, where some of the commentators have built entire careers predicting the demise of religious belief.

  • I’m not letting my genitalia anywhere near something with teeth. I might have ot save the human race some day be reproducing.

  • FYII (For Your Insult to Intelligence):

    “The country’s smallest (attendance 1–49) and largest churches (2,000-plus) did … keep up with population growth from 1994 to 2004, During that period, the smallest churches grew 16.4 percent; the largest grew 21.5 percent, exceeding the national population growth of 12.2 percent.”

    Source: ChurchLeaders, “7 Startling Facts: An Up Close Look at Church Attendance in America”, Outreach Magazine, April 10, 2018.

  • WHAT PEE-EW IS HIDING:

    “[In] an early study of religious nones … [Glenn M.] Vernon challenged the two assumptions that (1) all nones do not believe in God and (2) all atheists and agnostics should be categorized under none. He found that the none group yielded similar survey responses to that of the religiously affiliated. In some cases, nones were determined to be at least as religious as the affiliated, if not more than, in some measures of religion. … He proposed dividing the none group into those who are unaffiliated based on official church membership records and those who self-identify as no religious preference. Additionally, he mentions that other scholars have found a difference between respondents who are ‘no preference’ and those who are ‘atheist’ or ‘agnostic.’ Vernon questioned whether affiliation and nonaffiliation are opposites and entertained the idea that perhaps ‘the reasons one remains with a formal religious organization are different from and not merely the opposite of the reasons one leaves or does not affiliate with such an organization.’ [And so] due to its neutral implications, Vernon attempted to use the label of ‘independent’ to describe the religious nones in another publication but this never gained popularity.”

    Source: Ming Siegel, “What Is Your Present Religion, If Any? None, not Nun”, Bachelor of Arts thesis, Interdisciplinary Studies, The College of William and Mary, May 2016.

  • WHAT PEE-EW HAS STOLEN:

    “The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has used – and will continue to use – ‘religiously unaffiliated’ as our preferred term for Americans who tell us in surveys that they are atheists, agnostics or have no particular religion.”

    Glenn M. Vernon, rolling in his grave, would’ve DISAPPROVED.

    Source: Pew Research Center: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public LIfe, For Release October 9, 2012, “‘Nones’ on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation”.

  • Girls and women have teeth. Or haven’t you noticed?
    I’m not sure that anyone individual will ever be in the position to save the human race which is doomed anyway to either evolve beyond anything we currently recognise or be annihilated in the next comet or meteorite hit that caused the last mass extinction event from which mammals like us emerged to prevail or when the Sun explodes and engulfs the Earth in the distant but predictable future.

    Best wishes to you and yours and I hope you find a non-biting girlfriend soon, son.

  • I have studied the Churchleaders report and that is the source of the evidence supported decline in religion in the “startling” facts they report.

    If you can link to the “quote” you claim to be found wihin that report it may allay the suspicions of somee that you are bending the truth more than a little.

    Here is an actual quote from that report:

    Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.

    While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Christians in American attend a local church on any given Sunday.

    Initially prompted to discover how church plants in America were really doing, Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church (covchurch.org), began collecting data in the late ’80s, gradually expanding his research to encompass overall attendance trends in the church. In his study, he tracked the annual church attendance of more than 200,000 individual Orthodox Christian churches (the accepted U.S. church universe is 330,000). To determine church attendance at the remaining 100,000-plus Orthodox Christian churches, he used statistical models, which included multiplying a church’s membership number by the denomination’s membership-to-attendance ratio.

    The Numbers

    His findings reveal that the actual rate of church attendance from head counts is less than half of the 40 percent the pollsters report. Numbers from actual counts of people in Orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, mainline and evangelical) show that in 2004, 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend.

    Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).”

    (My emphasis added.)

    Here is a link for others who may wish to study the actual report rather than accept my (or your) quotes from it.

    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

  • I have studied the American Churchleaders report and that is the source of the evidence supported decline in religion in the “startling” facts they report.

    The evidence of decline is all across the world wide web from both religious and secular sources.

    The multiple reasons, logic and evidence that condemns that steaming pile of Bull-$#1T you call a “bible” is spread throughout this comment column and all across the world wide web.
    You sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “la,la,la, I can’t hear you so the Bull-S**t in my buy-bull must be true” fails to do anything but reveal the infantile nature of religion and most among the declining cohort of remaining religionists of the developed world.

    You have been presented with chapter and verse from your own buy-bull that indicates that “Jesus” (even if it could be proved he existed – but as you demonstrate; it can’t) did not fulfill the description and prophesies of a “messiah”. You have chosen merely to ignore or deny that evidence.

    Why is unwarranted and unsupported arrogant egotism, denial, myths and Bull-$#1T all you have to offer when a bit of actual, tangible, authentic and original reason, logic and most of all; evidence is all it needs to run some chance of converting me (and most others) from an evidence based skeptic into an evidence based believer?

    It’s that global failure to defend or justify religion that is contributing to the rapid decline of religion all across the educated, free, now predominantly secular developed world as well as among the millennial generation and generation Z world-wide.

    Here is an actual quote from the American Churchleaders report:

    Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.

    While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Christians in American attend a local church on any given Sunday.

    Initially prompted to discover how church plants in America were really doing, Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church (covchurch.org), began collecting data in the late ’80s, gradually expanding his research to encompass overall attendance trends in the church. In his study, he tracked the annual church attendance of more than 200,000 individual Orthodox Christian churches (the accepted U.S. church universe is 330,000). To determine church attendance at the remaining 100,000-plus Orthodox Christian churches, he used statistical models, which included multiplying a church’s membership number by the denomination’s membership-to-attendance ratio.

    The Numbers

    His findings reveal that the actual rate of church attendance from head counts is less than half of the 40 percent the pollsters report. Numbers from actual counts of people in Orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, mainline and evangelical) show that in 2004, 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend.

    Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).

    (My emphasis added.)

    Here is a link for others who may wish to study the actual report rather than accept my quotes from it.
    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

  • Here is an actual quote from the American Churchleaders report:

    “Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.

    While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Christians in American attend a local church on any given Sunday.

    Initially prompted to discover how church plants in America were really doing, Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church (covchurch.org), began collecting data in the late ’80s, gradually expanding his research to encompass overall attendance trends in the church. In his study, he tracked the annual church attendance of more than 200,000 individual Orthodox Christian churches (the accepted U.S. church universe is 330,000). To determine church attendance at the remaining 100,000-plus Orthodox Christian churches, he used statistical models, which included multiplying a church’s membership number by the denomination’s membership-to-attendance ratio.

    The Numbers

    His findings reveal that the actual rate of church attendance from head counts is less than half of the 40 percent the pollsters report. Numbers from actual counts of people in Orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, mainline and evangelical) show that in 2004, 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend.

    Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).”

    (My emphasis added.)

    Here is a link for others who may wish to study the actual report rather than accept my quotes from it.
    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

    The decline in religion is not only evidenced by the real data (ignoring the lies folk tell in polls and surveys) but by observing the rapidly growing number of empty rotting redundant churches that litter the villages, towns and cities of the developed world.

    Perhaps you find it too taxing or scary to leave your little backward bubble of fascistic religion – but the rest of us are not so lazy or cowardly.

  • I am not going to bother rebutting this since it has been hashed out repeatedly before and other posters have already begun rebutting you.

    From the standpoint of statistics, the error you’re making is attempting to take a linear regression – mathematically drawing a straight line – through a few data points and THEN projecting it into the future.

    Had I done that with the height of Americans in the early 20th century as nutrition improved, I would have concluded that Americans today would exceed 8 feet in height.

    It’s a common error – climate change advocates do the same thing – but all it proves is its practitioners don’t know their math.

    The Catholic Church is experiencing exponential growth, as are the churches in Africa and Asia in general.

  • Just for information, “Perhaps you find it too taxing or scary to leave your little backward
    bubble of fascistic religion – but the rest of us are not so lazy or
    cowardly.” leads me to believe that if I get one more post along these lines from you, blocking you would be wise.

  • People counted as “christians” by businesses of christianity and in polls or surveys that are notoriously unreliable do not represent the actual numbers of folk still actively engaged with religion.

    Here is an actual quote from the American Churchleaders report:

    Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.

    “While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Christians in American attend a local church on any given Sunday.

    Initially prompted to discover how church plants in America were really doing, Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church (covchurch.org), began collecting data in the late ’80s, gradually expanding his research to encompass overall attendance trends in the church. In his study, he tracked the annual church attendance of more than 200,000 individual Orthodox Christian churches (the accepted U.S. church universe is 330,000). To determine church attendance at the remaining 100,000-plus Orthodox Christian churches, he used statistical models, which included multiplying a church’s membership number by the denomination’s membership-to-attendance ratio.

    The Numbers

    His findings reveal that the actual rate of church attendance from head counts is less than half of the 40 percent the pollsters report. Numbers from actual counts of people in Orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, mainline and evangelical) show that in 2004, 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend.

    Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).

    (My emphasis added.)

    Here is a link for others who may wish to study the actual report rather than accept my quotes from it.
    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

    17.7% of Americans is way behind the fewer than 6% of Europeans who remain in thrall to religion – but in both cases the trend is one of accelerating decline in religion with each recent generation more interested in fact based education than the myths and legends of long dead fantasists and power crazed autocrats.

    If Hitchens was correct in his observation that “religion poisons everything” – current citizens of the west appear to have already discovered that education and free, peaceful, predominantly secular democracy is the antidote to that poison.

  • People counted as “christians” by businesses of christianity and in polls or surveys that are notoriously unreliable do not represent the actual numbers of folk still actively engaged with religion.

    Here is an actual quote from the American Churchleaders report:

    “Less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church—half of what the pollsters report.

    “While Gallup polls and other statisticians have turned in the same percentage—about 40 percent of the population—of average weekend church attendees for the past 70 years, a different sort of research paints quite a disparate picture of how many Christians in American attend a local church on any given Sunday.

    Initially prompted to discover how church plants in America were really doing, Olson, director of church planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church (covchurch.org), began collecting data in the late ’80s, gradually expanding his research to encompass overall attendance trends in the church. In his study, he tracked the annual church attendance of more than 200,000 individual Orthodox Christian churches (the accepted U.S. church universe is 330,000). To determine church attendance at the remaining 100,000-plus Orthodox Christian churches, he used statistical models, which included multiplying a church’s membership number by the denomination’s membership-to-attendance ratio.

    The Numbers

    His findings reveal that the actual rate of church attendance from head counts is less than half of the 40 percent the pollsters report. Numbers from actual counts of people in Orthodox Christian churches (Catholic, mainline and evangelical) show that in 2004, 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend.

    Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).”

    (My emphasis added.)

    Here is a link for others who may wish to study the actual report rather than accept my quotes from it.
    https://churchleaders.com/p

    17.7% of Americans is way behind the fewer than 6% of Europeans who remain in thrall to religion – but in both cases the trend is one of accelerating decline in religion with each recent generation more interested in fact based education than the myths and legends of long dead fantasists and power crazed autocrats.

    Meanwhile the millennial generation and generation Z are the best educated and least religious cohort in history and churches are going bust while others have merely become empty and redundant to rot and litter the villages towns and cities of the developed world in ever greater numbers.

    “Read the Wall Street Journal article and you’ll see that more churches are going bankrupt today than ever before. But it doesn’t mean the members of the church aren’t meeting elsewhere and becoming the church, not showing up to a building to do the same old time religious thing each week.”
    https://churchleaders.com/smallgroups/small-group-blogs/147999-american-churches-going-bankrupt.html

    If Hitchens was correct in his observation that “religion poisons everything” – current citizens of the western world appear to have already discovered that education and free, peaceful, predominantly secular democracy is the antidote to that poison and the millennials in lands still dominated by religion yearn for and are seeking the freedom their western peers enjoy.

  • Meanwhile the millennial generation and generation Z are the best educated and least religious cohort in history and churches are going bust while others have merely become empty and redundant to rot and litter the villages towns and cities of the developed world in ever greater numbers.

    “….Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).”

    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

    “Read the Wall Street Journal article and you’ll see that more churches are going bankrupt today than ever before. But it doesn’t mean the members of the church aren’t meeting elsewhere and becoming the church, not showing up to a building to do the same old time religious thing each week.”

    https://churchleaders.com/s

    If Hitchens was correct in his observation that “religion poisons everything” – current citizens of the western world appear to have already discovered that education and free, peaceful, predominantly secular democracy is the antidote to that poison and the millennials in lands still dominated by religion yearn for – and are seeking – the freedom from religion their western peers already enjoy.

  • When you write: “I am not going to bother rebutting this since it has been hashed out repeatedly before and other posters have already begun rebutting you.” you lie.

    No one has offered anything but denial to the absolute fact that no historical evidence of the existence of “Jesus” or the legends of “Jesus” that first appeared in human written bibles in the late 4th century that are very different from later versions in circulation today.

    No one has offered rebuttal to the data presented by religious organisations like the American Churchleaders either.

    Meanwhile the millennial generation and generation Z are the best educated and least religious cohort in history and churches are going bust while others have merely become empty and redundant to rot and litter the villages towns and cities of the developed world in ever greater numbers.

    “….Another study published in 2005 in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion by sociologists C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler—known for their scholarly research on the church—backs up his findings. Their report reveals that the actual number of people worshiping each week is closer to Olson’s 17.7 percent figure—52 million people instead of the pollster-reported 132 million (40 percent).”

    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

    “Read the Wall Street Journal article and you’ll see that more churches are going bankrupt today than ever before. But it doesn’t mean the members of the church aren’t meeting elsewhere and becoming the church, not showing up to a building to do the same old time religious thing each week.”

    https://churchleaders.com/s

    If Hitchens was correct in his observation that “religion poisons everything” – current citizens of the western world appear to have already discovered that education and free, peaceful, predominantly secular democracy is the antidote to that poison and the millennials in lands still dominated by religion yearn for – and are seeking – the freedom from religion their western peers already enjoy.

  • Blocking my gems of evidence supported wit and wisdom only blocks you from reading them and continuing in failing to respond in any meaningful way to them.

    I always enjoy it when a religionist demonstrates their cowardice, capitulation and failure to other readers of these columns by running away in humiliation from that which confounds them and to which they have no answer or argument.

    By all means feel free to either make some pitiful further attempt to validate, justify or excuse you childish superstitions and fraudulent cult – or to cut and run from further humiliation. It’s a choice that every failing religionist contributor faces within all of these religion oriented columns.

    Best wishes and sincere sympathy to you and yours, my sad and deluded friend.

  • Good for you and I was instrumental in influencing the vote for equal marriage even though I am only a fair minded heterosexual advocate of equal social and civil rights for all citizens.

    However – most boys and men also have teeth so I hope you find a non-biting boyfriend soon.

  • Me, too! Just don’t tell my husband about it. He got very weird about my torrid affair with Ryan Reynolds.

    Actually, I was referring to a mouth full of sharp incisors and carnivorous instincts.

    But that does remind me of something. When Freud was going off the deep end on some of his theories, he speculated that male homosexuals do not want to have sex with women because unconsciously, they believe that vaginas have teeth in them. Of course, he didn’t really know anything about how non-babymaking sexuality might work. So it didn’t occur to him that those homosexuals were putting their weenies into things with real teeth, Proving one more time that it is rarely worth the effort to ask a heterosexual about gay people, at least back then.

  • They have even more weird and nonsensical ideas about the ordinary peaceful law abiding citizens who happen to have recognised the bull-$π|t of religion.

    There’s nothing to match the narrow minded and bigoted ignorance of religionists.

    Happily they no longer have the power to terrorise, torture and murder all of us who fail to believe them or live free and peaceful lives ignoring their wacko taboos.

  • Fortunately the rest of the peaceful, educated, free, secular democracies of the world are not similarly afflicted as the USA.

    We still have a way to go but are much further down the road to civilisation than guns, gods and homicide crazy Americans.

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