Author Topic: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated  (Read 8363 times)

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Offline rumborak

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1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« on: January 19, 2013, 12:26:46 PM »
https://www.pewforum.org/unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

Saw this in a CNN article about a mom who wrote an essay about raising her kids without God.

The CNN article made the interesting point that this is essentially the counter-movement to the 1980s where the religious right grabbed the GOP. The Democrats are now more and more filled with people "coming out" about their agnosticism/atheism.
IMHO I actually don't think the true number has increased all that much. I think what mostly changed is the environment in which people now feel comfortable proclaiming their lack of belief. Just as with gays; the number hasn't changed all that much, it's rather that we now know who is actually gay and who isn't.
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Offline TheOutlawXanadu

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2013, 12:39:21 PM »
What I would be more interested to know is how many people actually treat religion as more than a routine; meaning, how many people actually value their religion as one of the most important things in their lives, and how many peoples' dedication goes beyond simply going to church on Sunday. One of my roommates, for example, goes to church every Sunday, but I'm pretty sure that's the only hour all week he's actually thinking about God.

Semi-sketchy result from a Google search on this: https://02varvara.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/poll-shows-that-only-a-few-americans-consider-religious-faith-an-important-part-of-life/
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Offline XJDenton

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2013, 03:11:10 PM »
I think Richard Dawkins looked into that.

Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2013, 04:46:59 PM »
Now define what you mean by God?
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Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2013, 04:49:27 PM »
I assume you're talking about the God Gene thing. While I haven't read that book, I can definitely buy into the idea of a person's "propensity" to be a believer. It's definitely all strong modulated by the environment, but I think even in the Vatican, or the headquarters of Al Qaida, there will be doubters.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 04:50:59 PM »
Now define what you mean by God?

I'm pretty sure Pew went with the commonly accepted notion of God.
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Offline jammindude

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 06:11:25 PM »
I'm actually quite shocked that it's that low.   I thought it would be far higher.   Although I have heard that I live in an area (the entire pacific northwest) with a higher percentage of "none's" than anywhere else in the entire country...  I have nothing in front of me to back that up, but I've seen things in the past, and seem to notice that it certainly seems that way just having lived here my entire life.   
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Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2013, 06:23:13 PM »
Now define what you mean by God?

I'm pretty sure Pew went with the commonly accepted notion of God.

Thought so as well.

Im more interested in how many people believe in some higher entity?
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Offline rumborak

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"I liked when Myung looked like a women's figure skating champion."

Offline jammindude

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2013, 10:07:17 PM »
but I've seen things in the past

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rUMa8bFbqo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 :P

You know what I mean.     It's not like I saved the newspaper article (I know!  Like, who reads freakin newspapers anymore???).    But that also gives you an idea of how long it's been since I've seen the info.    But honestly...would you imagine something like the "none's" in this area would do anything but increase?    I think the whole point of the OP is that the trend is growing across the country.   I'm just not shocked...   :-\
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2013, 10:37:14 PM »
IMHO I actually don't think the true number has increased all that much. I think what mostly changed is the environment in which people now feel comfortable proclaiming their lack of belief. Just as with gays; the number hasn't changed all that much, it's rather that we now know who is actually gay and who isn't.

This precisely.

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2013, 04:17:55 PM »
I can definitely buy into the idea of a person's "propensity" to be a believer.
Even more than that, I think that different people have different levels of ability to "experience" God/the sacred/the spiritual/the numinous. 

Just an opinion, mind you.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2013, 05:39:13 PM »
Which of course would raise some tough theological questions. How could a just god design some people to not experience the divine, and yet expect them to stake their life on it?
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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2013, 08:31:05 PM »
Back in Catholic school, I was taught that there are some exceptions, one of them being that if one person was never given the opportunity to hear the word of God, they would still get a chance to go to heaven.

Offline kirksnosehair

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2013, 08:11:37 AM »
I take this as another sign that we are becoming a more free and open society as time passes.  I agree with the comparisons made to homosexuality.  There are not MORE people who are homosexual now than there were 50 years ago, rather, it's just becoming less of a stigma to identify one's self as such.  I believe the same applies to religion.  At one time, in America, if you openly identified as an atheist you'd more than likely be perceived negatively by most people.  Today, not so much. 

Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2013, 08:22:43 AM »
Back in Catholic school, I was taught that there are some exceptions, one of them being that if one person was never given the opportunity to hear the word of God, they would still get a chance to go to heaven.

I've heard that argument, but I always thought it was one of the worst copouts created.
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Offline Cedar redaC

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 08:47:19 AM »
Why so? I mean, there are people who lived in say, feudal Japan, or tribal Africa, that lived and died without hearing the gospel and having a chance to accept or refuse it. I think that these people deserve to hear God's message as much as anyone else.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 09:04:39 AM »
What you think they" deserve" is irrelevant. Your wish to not send innocent people to hell is laudable, but not carried in the slightest by any scripture.
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Offline Ħ

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2013, 09:40:44 AM »
Keep in mind that a growing trend which would contribute to this statistic is religious relativism and spiritualism. In fact, I probably talk to more relativists and spiritual seekers than I do atheists and agnostics.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline Cedar redaC

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2013, 09:44:48 AM »
What you think they" deserve" is irrelevant. Your wish to not send innocent people to hell is laudable, but not carried in the slightest by any scripture.

Actually, in my church (the LDS Church, or the Mormons), it is. In the Doctrine and Covenants section 137, verses 7-9, it says:

"7 Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;
 8 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;
 9 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts."

Perhaps you should ask bosk to reverse the "e" and "a" in the second half of your user name.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2013, 09:49:27 AM »
What an interesting dynamic that creates, where you are better off in the long run never having heard of Jesus.
It is also interesting that almost all Muslims go to heaven, but not all Christians.
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Offline Ħ

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2013, 09:51:01 AM »
To add to that, there are verses in the New Testament that talk about how God will judge each person according to what that person has been given. Those that never hear the gospel message must still recognize the Creator behind the natural world.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2013, 09:52:10 AM »
Keep in mind that a growing trend which would contribute to this statistic is religious relativism and spiritualism. In fact, I probably talk to more relativists and spiritual seekers than I do atheists and agnostics.

Well, only 18% of the unaffiliated consider themselves "religious".  Further, 37% of the unaffiliated consider themselves "spiritual but not religious", but that's not to say that spiritualism has caused people to fall away from God -- in fact, it says explicitly that the unaffiliated are no more likely to practice new age beliefs than the affiliated.

Offline GuineaPig

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2013, 10:01:47 AM »
"Spiritual but not religious" is how you describe yourself to your girlfriend's strict Christian parents.  I don't think I know anybody who's actually like that.
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2013, 10:04:39 AM »
These people certainly exist, but they're a distinct minority as far as I'm concerned.  As it becomes increasingly acceptable to flat-out say "I am atheist/agnostic", most of these people will drop the "spiritual but not religious" line.

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2013, 10:24:09 AM »
What you think they" deserve" is irrelevant. Your wish to not send innocent people to hell is laudable, but not carried in the slightest by any scripture.

I'm not going to defend the CC that much as I no longer affiliate with them, but I never understood why something automatically becomes more credible just because it's in the Bible. And then things aren't in the Bible are worthless. Did God ever say, "Thou shalt listen to the Bible and nothing else?"

That's why I find the Christians who base their entire belief system on the one statement, "I believe the Bible to be true," to be unsettling. There has to be more to religion than just following one book. There's thousands of years of history and tradition to think about too. I'm not saying that all tradition is holy, but it helps to give more context than just the Bible alone. The CC has had many great philosophers try to actually figure out answers to contradictions and beliefs that no longer make sense in today's world. I know you despise the CC, Rumby, but I actually respect them for at least trying to make the religion make sense, even if it does seem like copout answers at times.

Offline yeshaberto

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2013, 10:31:16 AM »
there is no doubt that traditions, other religions, other people's perspectives, other books, other teachers can teach us things about how to understand the word of God.  heck, I even get perspective from rumby sometimes  :)
but if the bible is the word of God, then ultimately it is going to be my final voice.

Offline Cedar redaC

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2013, 10:39:39 AM »
What an interesting dynamic that creates, where you are better off in the long run never having heard of Jesus.

At first glance, that may seem to be the case, but I think that the Doctrine and Covenants section 130, verses 18 and 19 say it best:

"18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
 19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much more the advantage in the world to come."

As far as the Bible is concerned, I believe it to be mostly true, although some of it's teachings have been lost in incorrect translations or removed by unrighteous people. I believe that God speaks to us today, and that modern day revelation is just as essential to our salvation as is The Bible and other ancient scripture.
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Offline Ħ

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2013, 10:58:14 AM »
These people certainly exist, but they're a distinct minority as far as I'm concerned.  As it becomes increasingly acceptable to flat-out say "I am atheist/agnostic", most of these people will drop the "spiritual but not religious" line.
What is your have any basis for making that prediction?

@GineauPig - At my secular university, the "spiritual but not religious" self-identification is the one I run into the most. When probing these people for their motivation behind this position, they don't want to commit to any kind of organized religion (or even belief in God), but they don't want to succumb to the nihilism that atheism inevitably entails. They want meaning.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline theseoafs

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2013, 11:16:09 AM »
These people certainly exist, but they're a distinct minority as far as I'm concerned.  As it becomes increasingly acceptable to flat-out say "I am atheist/agnostic", most of these people will drop the "spiritual but not religious" line.
What is your have any basis for making that prediction?

Don't have any, that's just an opinion.

Offline rumborak

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2013, 11:28:37 AM »
These people certainly exist, but they're a distinct minority as far as I'm concerned.  As it becomes increasingly acceptable to flat-out say "I am atheist/agnostic", most of these people will drop the "spiritual but not religious" line.
What is your have any basis for making that prediction?

@GineauPig - At my secular university, the "spiritual but not religious" self-identification is the one I run into the most. When probing these people for their motivation behind this position, they don't want to commit to any kind of organized religion (or even belief in God), but they don't want to succumb to the nihilism that atheism inevitably entails. They want meaning.

While I don't think a lot of atheists will use the SBNR tag for themselves, I think it's the agnostic crowd for whom religion and faith plays no role in daily life, who will use SNBR as a "I'm not a soulless brick" euphemism, but in reality are totally indifferent to the issue. At least on dating sites here in Boston SNBR is the vast majority of chosen affiliation, and I think it's made mostly as a "least offending option".
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Offline Ħ

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2013, 11:40:44 AM »
Huh. In my experience, the SBNR people aren't indifferent to the issue. They deeply, genuinely care about discovering purpose and meaning. They are not motivated by wanting to not offend others.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges

Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2013, 11:47:17 AM »
Their are a lot of spiritual people who are not affiliated with an organization, their intention is where freewill thrives to spiritually do good or negative. Now religious who arent spiritual are my concern because their not really believing, going through the motions.

Sometimes I feel Jesus was someone who knew how to transcend into the next dimension, the next evolution. He was one with God and called it Love. Jesus respects you no matter whom you are...the word of the bible is the message of love, church is you respecting that connection and you dont have to ho yo church yo have that. Which leads me to say All spiritual cultures are equal and none is better than thr other as they all say to love. If they say God is everywhete could he have taken different forms that we would accept to teach these teachings?
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Offline theseoafs

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2013, 11:53:54 AM »
Huh. In my experience, the SBNR people aren't indifferent to the issue. They deeply, genuinely care about discovering purpose and meaning. They are not motivated by wanting to not offend others.

Okay, but how many SBNR people do you know for whom their "spiritual" activities -- if they do engage in spiritual activities -- truly give their lives purpose and meaning?  Do these people often talk about meditation, etc. in the same way that the religious talk about God?

It's certainly true that a number of SBNR people don't care about offending others and do care that their lives have meaning, but as far as I'm concerned, this is just another side of the same coin.  They want their lives to have meaning, but they're under the (false) impression that atheism precludes you from finding meaning or worth in anything.  So they say they're "spiritual, but not religious", but they don't really live their lives any differently than if they just said they weren't religious.

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Re: 1 in 5 Americans now religiously unaffiliated
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2013, 12:10:11 PM »
You just asked a whole new question: How many people actually live in accordance with their religious affiliations? Many atheists give lipservice to the subjective nature of morals and meaninglessness of existence, but they certainly don't live that way. Many Christians preach preach preach, but they don't really make the tough decisions and commitments that Christianity requires of them.

Likewise, many of these spiritual seekers are going to sweep their perceived spiritual responsibilities under the rug. Not that they disagree with their own outspoken beliefs, but they have flaws in their own character that preclude them from acting in accordance with their beliefs.

Anyway, my point is that this thread poses the question of religious affiliation, and that includes those that just give lip service. The statistics might be vastly skewed, however, if we looked at how people actually lived out their religion. So much that we'd be drifting too far into the hypothetical to have a grounded discussion.
"All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master Himself, all obeyed or have to obey one and the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night." - A. G. Sertillanges