The Number of Non Religious People in the US is on the Rise

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Credit: http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com/2012/03/religion-and-2012-election.html

A survey released by the Pew Institute on Tuesday shows that the number of nonreligious people in the US is on the rise, reaching a record high of 20 percent. However, this trend has yet to be reflected in the political arena.

The Number of Non Religious People in the US is on the Rise
Credit:http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx

Today, 1 out of 5 Americans (1 out of 3 for those under 30), consider themselves to be non-religiously affiliated. The number of people not affiliated to any religion is growing more rapidly than any other religious group. The US has long been more religious than the rest of the developed world, but is now joining a global trend in which 23% of the world population is considered non religious. This growth remains slow, however, for atheists and agnostics, which is a nonreligious affiliation many Americans still find difficult to wear. Only 6% of people in the US claim to be atheist or agnostic, which is far from the 13% world average.

If the absence of religiosity is more and more accepted in everyday life, this evolution has not yet been translated in the American political arena. Indeed, in the last session, no member of the Congress declared themselves as atheist, or even non affiliated. Only  two high level elected officials have ever openly spoken about being non-theists: Congressman Peter Stark from California and State Senator Ernie Chambers from Nebraska, famous for his legal case against God. In contrast, many developed countries have had non believers as head of government such as current Australian Prime Minister Julia Guillard, Great Britain Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, or Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

A few facts can help illustrate why being a non-theist remains a taboo if you are running for office in the US. In 2007, a Gallup poll showed that voting for an atheist would be the last option chosen by American voters, after voting for a homosexual, a 72 year-old, or someone married three times. Being atheist is the only category that received more vote-against than for.

The Number of Non Religious People in the US is on the Rise
Credit: http://www.gallup.com/poll/26611/some-americans-reluctant-vote-mormon-72yearold-presidential-candidates.aspx#1

Another survey in 2011 showed that 53% of Americans think that a belief in God is directly linked to morality. Finally, the two most famous political “atheist” figures in a lot of American minds are Hitler and Stalin, not the best example of someone you would vote for. With this in mind, it is understandable that nobody in the current election is running under the banner of godlessness.

It will certainly take time for the religious environment in the US to change enough to have an openly atheist elected official, but with non-religiously affiliated people making up 20% of the electorate we can hope that more representation for that group will be seen in the near future.

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  1. David Haney Absolutely!! Religion in my mind has nothing to do with it....
  2. Richard Griffin Thank God.
  3. Sandra Pipkin Dickson I might, if I felt they were going to be really good for the country. Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's and give to God what is God's. One of the main reason we have America, is because we believe in freedom OF religion. I think that includes non-religious people! I am a Christian, but I accept all people. I try to follow the teaching of Jesus.
  4. Michael Mallon I'm agnostic. I have very little interest in the religious views of political candidates. But when they insist on talking about it, whether they are believers or otherwise, I dig deeper, and sometimes what I find is reason enough to dismiss them for hypocrisy.
  5. Brittany Prichard I think it's sad that people wouldn't vote for someone who is non-theist. Religion shouldn't define who a person is. Being religious does NOT make anyone superior.
  6. Kristie Bittleston If I agreed with their platform. Candidates are free to worship whom they wish - if they wish, just as all Americans should be.. If they support liberty and freedom under our Constitution, I would definitely consider them for my vote.
  7. Joe Lanza I have no problem voting for an atheist. We're supposed to have separation of Church and State, so it shouldnt matter anyway. Also, we already have many politicians who are "closet atheists"...they SAY they believe because they know they have to in a nation where most people do, otherwise many people wouldnt vote for them.
  8. Michael Snider I would prefer to vote for an atheist or a nonbeliever.
  9. Ryan Taylor way before I'd vote for one who is
  10. Jason Theodoroff Yes!!!
31 comments
Brittany Prichard
Brittany Prichard

I think it's sad that people wouldn't vote for someone who is non-theist. Religion shouldn't define who a person is. Being religious does NOT make anyone superior.

David Haney
David Haney

Absolutely!! Religion in my mind has nothing to do with it....

Joe Lanza
Joe Lanza

I have no problem voting for an atheist. We're supposed to have separation of Church and State, so it shouldnt matter anyway. Also, we already have many politicians who are "closet atheists"...they SAY they believe because they know they have to in a nation where most people do, otherwise many people wouldnt vote for them.

Brittany Prichard
Brittany Prichard

I would. Why should one's religious beliefs define how good of a politician they are? I am very spiritual, religious even. But I feel as though no religon should be forced upon the people, even if you feel like you are 100% right. So why should it matter if a politician wasn't?

In fact, I almost think it would be better if the politicians were not. That way they can focus on doing good for the people because it would be what is best for them...instead of making their personal beliefs law.

Jule
Jule

Change will sadly be a long time coming i think. People hold very strongly to their beliefs, and if the continued societal segregation of blacks and whites is still going on today in the south... Maybe the rest of the country will manage to leave the middle ages, but i fear the bible belt will remain a scary place for non-religious, and the politicians will remain firmly devoted to god. Whether they believe or not.

Benjamin Foster
Benjamin Foster

Fascinating piece, Lucas. The prominence of religious rhetoric in the US leaves me with little hope of change in the near future. Nearly every speech by President Obama is concluded with, "God Bless America." In addition, after President Obama failed to say Merry Christmas in a weekly address, political pundits declared a "War on Christmas." Until a prominent political leader can convince the american public that religion isn't the only path to morality, an alternative will cease to exist.

Michael Mallon
Michael Mallon

I'm agnostic. I have very little interest in the religious views of political candidates. But when they insist on talking about it, whether they are believers or otherwise, I dig deeper, and sometimes what I find is reason enough to dismiss them for hypocrisy.

Dave Rossow
Dave Rossow

I would vote for someone specifically because they were non-religious. Keep religion out of government!

Rob Joyce
Rob Joyce

I can think of nothing better for this country.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

Agreed. The I think the religious and partisan institutions are facing the same problem. In the old days, messenger was king. Those who delivered the messages had all the power. Today, there are so many modes of delivering messages, the parties and the religious institutions can't rely on the scarcity of bandwidth to make sure theirs wins.

Sandra Pipkin Dickson
Sandra Pipkin Dickson

I might, if I felt they were going to be really good for the country. Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's and give to God what is God's. One of the main reason we have America, is because we believe in freedom OF religion. I think that includes non-religious people! I am a Christian, but I accept all people. I try to follow the teaching of Jesus.

Michael Snider
Michael Snider

I would prefer to vote for an atheist or a nonbeliever.

David Wynn Smith
David Wynn Smith

This Country was built & Founded on Christian Principles & Values!!! Remove them and you will have a dictatorship or at best a Monarchy like Obamad is working for!!!

Jennifer A Hughes
Jennifer A Hughes

plenty of people claim to be religious for political purposes...I'm not saying that most of the Congress are lying about this but it is not unheard of! I try to judge a person by their "fruit" and I see very little of it in the Congress.

Leo Zicc
Leo Zicc

for the love of god, dont talk about there being no god, why, its ungodlike and just plain unhealthy to not believe in fantasy

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

I seriously do not understand the hostility toward Atheism. I cannot comprehend why so many would say they do not trust Atheists, or non-religious people. I do not see the connection between morality and religiosity. I'm glad to see that some non-religious public figures are finding success. Religious affiliation does not matter, content of one's character does matter.

I'm lucky to have grown up in Southern California where different social/religious beliefs are much more accepted. I do believe the prejudice will go away over time in the country and as the number of non-religious people grows.

Brittany Prichard
Brittany Prichard

I would. Why should one's religious beliefs define how good of a politician they are? I am very spiritual, religious even. But I feel as though no religon should be forced upon the people, even if you feel like you are 100% right. So why should it matter if a politician wasn't?

In fact, I almost think it would be better if the politicians were not. That way they can focus on doing good for the people because it would be what is best for them...instead of making their personal beliefs law.

Kacy Sample
Kacy Sample

Absolutely! A person's religion has nothing to do with my decision to vote for them. Their record on Constitutional legislation is what I care about.

Bonnie Sands Fackler
Bonnie Sands Fackler

The brainwashing of America by the progressives is working apparently ,, sadly....

Kristie Bittleston
Kristie Bittleston

If I agreed with their platform. Candidates are free to worship whom they wish - if they wish, just as all Americans should be.. If they support liberty and freedom under our Constitution, I would definitely consider them for my vote.

Ryan Mclain
Ryan Mclain

This isn't so much a sign of atheism growing as it is a sign of frustration with organized religion.

Tim Masters
Tim Masters

if that person was a Constitutional Libertarian I would