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Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds
The decline in church attendance among whites without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees.
August 24th, 2011
03:17 PM ET

Less-educated Americans are losing religion, study finds

By Liane Membis, CNN

(CNN) - If you don't have a college degree, you’re less likely to be up early on Sunday morning, singing church hymns.

That's the upshot of a new study that finds the decline in church attendance since the 1970s among white Americans without college degrees is twice as high as for those with college degrees.

Study: More educated tend to be more religious

“Our study suggests that the less-educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, who was lead researcher on the project.

The research, presented this week at American Sociological Association's annual meeting, found that 37% of moderately educated whites - those with high school degrees but lacking degrees from four-year colleges - attend religious services at least monthly, down from 50% in the 1970s.

Among college-educated whites, the dropoff was less steep, with 46% regularly attending religious services in the 2000s, compared with 51% in the '70s.

The study focuses on white Americans because church attendance among blacks and Latinos is less divided by education and income.

Most religiously affiliated whites identify as Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Mormons or Jews.

Lower church attendance among the less-educated may stem from a disconnect between them and modern church values, the study theorizes.

Religious institutions tend to promote traditional middle-class family values like education, marriage and parenthood, but less-educated whites are less likely to get or stay married and may feel ostracized by their religious peers, the researchers said.

The researchers expressed concern about the falloff in church attendance among the less-educated.

“This development reinforces the social marginalization of less educated Americans who are also increasingly disconnected from the institutions of marriage and work,” said Andrew Cherlin, co-author of the study and a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

Wilcox said that those who do not attend church are missing out on potential benefits.

“Today, the market and the state provide less financial security to the less educated than they once did,” Wilcox said. “Religious congregations may be one of the few institutional sectors less-educated Americans can turn to for social, economic and emotional support in the face of today’s tough times, yet it appears that increasingly few of them are choosing to do so.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Polls

soundoff (1,621 Responses)
  1. AB

    Less educated Amercians are losing religion. Good, maybe they'll become smarter.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • MrHanson

      Wow your statement is so profound.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  2. EnergyBeing3

    Christianity is becoming a 'Dead Religion' just as Latin is a 'Dead Language'. It's fine to study it for historical reasons or take a few of the morals and adopt them into your life for being kind and compassionate to others. But that's about where is leaves off since it cannot, legally, be fully practiced since there are a long list of "Bible Rules" that we as a modern day society don't live by. Forcing women to marry their rapist, stoning people, oh the list goes on. So in reality, to be a Christian is to be a Hypocrite.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Robert

      Your blind hatred is the real problem! Christianity is exploding in many countries all around the world (mainly among educated non-whites). Western secularists are living in a bubble of ignorance.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Thoryourgod

      Robert: Why is your religion correct, and the other thousands of them false?. I assume you are an atheist where Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims, etc are concerned. Now you know how we feel. Now, just go one religion further...

      August 25, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • EnergyBeing3

      @ Robert. ..... There is no "Blind Hate" from me. I only speak the truth based in reality of our modern times. The biggest problem with Christianity is that it doesn't give it's followers the blueprint or the architecture of their souls to fully progress in their human 'psycho-spiritual' process and work toward their birth right of enlightenment. The Christian's follow a dead master with priests who filter the Bible through their egos. It's very dysfunctional.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Thoryourgod

      @energybeing3: Uh oh. Looks like you also harbor silly faith based beliefs. Just another kind of dopiness. Good luck exploring the architecture of your soul. (Hint – You don not have one.)

      August 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Robert

      Your blind hatred is the real problem! Christianity is exploding in many countries all around the world (mainly among educated non-whites). Western secularists are living in a bubble of ignorance
      ---–
      Educated non-whites? Really....please provide a source. I didn't know 3rd world countries counted as educated non-whites. lol

      August 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Robert

      The premise or blueprint of Christianity (manifest in the person of Jesus Christ) is that Truth cannot never be subjective. The Truth is that we need a Savior that can offer grace, forgiveness, and eternal life. Remember, God says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Robert

      *ever. I didn't say that non-whites were automatically third world!

      August 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Thoryourgod

      @Robert: No, you don't need a god to offer forgiveness or let you off the hook for your sins. You need to earn it. And forget that nonsense about being born in sin. No evidence for it, pure man made nonsense.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Robert

      @ "Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics" Nice screen name, by the way. Read Philip Jenkin's books ('The Next Christianity' is good). Besides, those of us that go to Church, go on missions (quite a few to China these days), and evangelize on college campuses fellowship firsthand with many converts all the time. They are the elites for the most part, and their faith puts the believers in the west to shame. Ditto for Europe, the Churches are mostly full with socially mobile non-whites.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Robert

      @ Thoryourgod You are burying your head in the sand. But at least you are making the conscious decision to deny sin, forgiveness, and reject a savior.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  3. Thoryourgod

    Good Odin! We must go back to traditional values if we are going to survive and make America great again. Praise Odin. I think I will create a storm to head up the East Coast of America to teach the unbelievers a lesson.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Robert

      Yawn, it's always just more mockery. Jesus was mocked, too, by the way.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Thoryourgod

      @Robert: Bozo was mocked too.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Robert

      Yea, yea. Mock on, mock on.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  4. C. Bridget

    Or how about it's because job schedules are different. I am a college educated gal, but in this tough economy I had to work a rather crappy job that didn't want to give me full time hours because they had to pay me more because of my education, struggling to find hours I often times had to work Sunday morning 12hr shifts...9 to 5 jobs tend to go to those with degrees. But yeah, good job on your survey skills...

    August 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  5. Robert

    This confirms what I've noticed over the years. We need to re-evangelize the poor and undereducated. They are suffering the worst.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Thoryourgod

      Awesome Robert – It confirms what you already know! How's your confirmation bias meter working. It might need a recharging.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Charles Mecklenburg

      You're so right brother. Any poor or undereducated that don't accept the word of Jesus as dictated by the Baptist Church (can't trust those Catholics now can we) should be written off and not helped. All a bunch of liberals and libertarians who think they don't need God. Well if they're not with God, and God is obviously on the side of the Baptist Church then perhaps we could view them as sub-humans. If Palin, Bachmann, or Perry become president then it will be so awesome because they'll turn us into a theocracy and then we can tax just those sub-humans as they are the cause of all our problems.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Robert

      You guys obviously don't know what you are talking about. The vast majority of church-goers are upper middle class (insert criticism here) and not the uneducated. That is not to say that many uneducated don't still attend church, just not proportionately the same.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "You guys obviously don't know what you are talking about. The vast majority of church-goers are upper middle class (insert criticism here) and not the uneducated. That is not to say that many uneducated don't still attend church, just not proportionately the same."
      --
      That's definitely not true. Taking what this study says – that 37% of moderately educated people attend church and that 46% of college educated people do, and then using demographic data that states that 28% of all americans have a college degree and that 57% fall into the HS but no college definite, there is most definitely a smaller proportion of college educated americans attending church services. That may not be your personal experiences, but the math shows that your personal experiences don't reflect reality.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Robert

      @ "Steve7" Well this study clearly shows that those in the pews are more likely to be educated than non-educated, which has been my experience. In any case, I doubt you'll make the effort to go to a church and talk to real Christians, although I hope you do. It's much easier to snipe from afar, which is very sad!

      August 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "Well this study clearly shows that those in the pews are more likely to be educated than non-educated, which has been my experience"
      -
      No, it doesn't. Try actually reading the article. The math is straight forward.

      The study only mentions the rate of decrease of those that attend church by education. It doesn't not list the proportion of the college educated to moderately educated. Let me spell it out for you. Say there are 2 college educated people and 100 moderately educated people. If I said the attendance rate was 50% for college educated people and 30% for moderately educated people, the ratio of moderately educated to college educated would be 30:1. The math really isn't all that hard.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Robert

      Less-educated people are falling away from the church, that means that most of the people left in the pews are educated. That is what the math shows (in an American context at least). I was also referencing this issue from a world-wide context, where new Christians are clearly very from the well educated classes. Those of us that attend church can see these trends, that was my main point. It's time to get back to work, though! Surely you guys have some professional work to attend to??

      August 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "Less-educated people are falling away from the church, that means that most of the people left in the pews are educated. That is what the math shows"

      The study shows that BOTH educated and less-educated people are falling away from the church. The study was conducted on americans, so any reference to non-Americans isn't relevant. The math lines up, if you choose to actually look at the numbers. Maybe 1+1 doesn't equal 2 in your world. Did you really not get my example above?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  6. Lodoviccio

    Hmm, I'll bet if money were taken out of religion there would be NO organized religion? Just sayin....

    August 25, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • AB

      Yep

      August 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  7. Polymath

    Actually, the entire premise is difficult to accept. The right wing fanatics seem to have the following in common: simplistic fundamentalistic religious beliefs, simplistic fundamentalistic political beliefs, simplistic and highly misinformed grasp of economics, total misunderstanding of scientific methodology, very low level of formal education.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      And the left wing fanatics just think the government will solve everything as long as the rich are taxed enough.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Robert

      Have you ever even talked to scientist that is a Christian? I think a lot of secular people cavort in very very narrow circles, much more so than people of faith.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Nannalow

      Stereotyping much?

      August 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  8. dk

    I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to this question:

    If you are truly an atheist, why bother trying to convince others?

    You believe that at the end of life all consciousness ceases. Will it matter if lived in misery or bliss? Will it matter if you caused misery or bliss? In the end the universe is a cold, dead emptiness; you and all of humanity is insignificant.

    At least the religious have a cause to fight for. What do atheists win?

    August 25, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • MarkinFL

      If the believers would leave us alone in THIS life, we would be quite content to leave them alone in this one and any future ones they might be involved with.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Lodoviccio

      You have it backwards, Atheists do NOT go around proselytizing, it it the so-call believers in magical thinking that have drunk the Kool-Aid and do that kind of thing.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Stevie7

      I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to this question:

      If you are truly an atheist, why bother trying to convince others?
      -Because no atheist straps a bomb to themselves to further the 'cause' of atheism Because believers are trying to deny others their civil rights because of a 2000 year old book. Because some believers want to use my tax payer money so that they can inject religion into science classes.

      You believe that at the end of life all consciousness ceases. Will it matter if lived in misery or bliss? Will it matter if you caused misery or bliss? In the end the universe is a cold, dead emptiness; you and all of humanity is insignificant.
      -You assume that morals come from religion. I don't need someone watching over my shoulder to be moral. I can get satisfaction out of helping others and making this world a better place without the need for some reward or fear of some punishment. And as for humanity being insignificant – we live on an average planet, in an average solar system, in a suburban part of an average galaxy. I'd say we're most definitely insignificant in the cosmic scheme of things. I'm 100% fine with this – I find that grandeur of the universe awe inspiring. I don't need a god or creator to do this.

      At least the religious have a cause to fight for. What do atheists win?
      -Why do you need religion to have a cause? I volunteer and give my money and time to causes. Try thinking outside the religious box.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Name

      who said anything about winning or losing – it's about belief and disbelief.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Thoryourgod

      DK: The truth wins, humanity wins.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Laughing

      Your asking a lot of questions, which one do you want answered?

      Why do atheists try and convince others there is no god? A couple of reasons. Some do it to be trolls, others do it only when goaded by the religious there is one that we need to accept for salvation, a lot of atheists, including myself, discuss religion with believers and it ends up that I've made an arguement that god most likely doesn't exist, I also believe that religion in general impedes progress and creates evil where there normally wouldn't be. I have no issue with someone choosing to believe in a god, go to church and socialize with others who believe the same. I do take offense when those beliefs start rearing their head in a political forum and when religion delibretly tries to stop science because scientific findings are compatible with the religions dogma. It has nothing to do with my trying to convince you that you aren't going anywhere when you die, that's up to you whether you want to face reality and believe this is your one chance to make the most of your life or to believe that you are going to have a second life and use your time here in ritual.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • AB

      We don't try to convince others. Most of us just want to left alone. It's the religious that are always trying to convince others.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Harry Hippobottomus

      If there is no God, then life and the world are great adventures of discovery. That's not the bleak picture that you religious folks try to make everyone believe. The world is full of wonder and adventure and great experiences, and the challenge is to live fully and with passion. And when it is over, it is over. As there are significant benefits to cooperating and behaving well, many people choose to cooperate and behave well.

      Religious people give up so many of the freedoms and adventures of live in order to conform to something that there is no evidence exists. If you are wrong about God, then you totally wasted the only thing you had, your life, on an oppressive delusion. If you are wrong, then you and the others are trying to force the world to obey a strange book of ancient superstitions. If you are wrong, then all of the war and torture and oppression carried out in the name of religion was evil and delusion.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • dk

      Lodoviccio said, "You have it backwards, Atheists do NOT go around proselytizing..."
      Posting on Internet board and trying to convince others of your point of view IS proselytizing

      Stevie7, and you still didn't justify the point. It's great that you help out all the unfortunate, but my point stands: What difference does it make? Will the universe care how kind you were?

      No one else even makes a passable argument.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      Why do religious people go around trying to convince everyone? Im ok with everyones religion as long as they keep it to themselves. Admittedly, some athiests are total d*cks about, but then so are some christians and muslims.
      For me every time I learn something new about the universe, religion is less and less likely. There are provable and testable facts about the universe. If god wants us to have proof, then come down and get tested.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Bruce

      dk, you don't know what an atheist actually believes.

      The fact of the matter is that atheists, like all people, want to know the answers of the profound questions of human exi.st.ence. These questions are in fact not answered by things like biology and physics. These are the kinds of questions that atheists want answered just as much as you do:

      What consti.tutes the good life?
      What is good, and what is evil? Am I good, or am I evil?
      What role does love play in my life, what role does it play in human history?
      Should I be concerned with how I'll be remembered after I die?
      What is my duty to my fellow man?

      The difference between the atheist and the theist seems, more-often-than-not anyway, to be that the atheist is not at all satisfied with the answers religion gives to these questions whereas the theist somehow finds comfort in those same answers.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • J.W

      What atheists need to do is to get elected to political office even if they have to lie and say they are religious, then overturn all the religious laws.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Stevie7

      "What difference does it make? Will the universe care how kind you were?"

      The universe won't care, because it can't. But why should I need it to. Life doesn't need to have some grand Universal meaning for me to find meaning for myself in my own life and want to be a good person. I care about my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my fellow humans. I don't need the stick and carrot of heaven to care about them. I can do good to help them because I care. I don't need to have a legacy of some lasting meaning to want to do good in my own lifetime.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Laughing

      @Dk,

      what exactly IS a satisfactory answer then? Are you expecting an atheist to just say, "I'm a dick, that's why"?

      It seems like you truely believe that the universe has some special plan for human beings and that in the grand scheme of things we'll actually be able effect even a small portion of the universe at one point. I would reccomend you do a little research about the universe and realize that our size compared to the rest of the universe is incomprehensible.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • RV1982

      Harry – Just curious, how exacly do you define "evil". Does a secular society take a vote on it? If so, then is it something that can change over time? Seems to me the eccense of most religion is love and selflessness, and thus the admission that we as humans tend not to exhibit those "qualities". The other aspect of most religions is that there is existance beyond that which we can percieve. Consequently, a "belief". No one can force you to "believe"...you just have to be open minded.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Dee

      It is difficult to not try to make people see the total lack of logic they have. Frustrating would be a better word. I don't think any atheists are trying to convince you to believe in what they do, that's what Christians do, we are just trying to get to realize that just because you were taught something by your family or church or because you cannot bear to think there is no life after death, does not necessarily make it true. The problem is that Christians, like other religous people, do not think oustide the box. No one is saying that you are less intelligent because most Christians that I know are very intelligent people, but they are not logical about religion. They don't see that believing in a magical guy in a heaven is insane. It does not seem insane to you because you have been taught to believe it is right. But think outside the box for a moment, do you think that muslims think your religion is insane? Probably. Do you think that muslims are insane for believing that their version of heaven involves 72 virgins? Probably. The point being that the possibility of your god existing is just as implausible as the possibility of any other god existing. All religions are based on myth, speculation and ancient literature. Most Christians cannot even name one person who wrote anything in the bible, and yet they hold so much value in what the book says. Seems to me that you kind of need to know the source of information in order to establish any credibilty and even if you do know the source there is still no credibility because when you break it down it is just a book written by some wack jobs. There is no proof or evidence to support anything in the bible and therefore it is fictional, and no, faith does not equal fact. You can believe as strongly as you want in something but that does not make it true. Your religion depends entirely on your location and therefore is completely arbitrary. Try thinking for yourself.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Truthquark

      Man, no wonder you think you have to believe in a God, if that's how you portray the alternative. To me, the fact that we might not get another chance at life makes what you do with the one you have so much more important. Religion seems, often, to promote a sort of complacency - this life is horrid, but at least the next one will be awesome! As far as trying to promote atheist/agnostic views, I think a lot do it in response to many religions' attempts at the same. Some do it too much and too harshly, but it is what it is. The other reason, I think, is to promote free discourse because all of this stuff is actually quite fascinating. Thinking of other worldviews and questioning your own beliefs is rather healthy as well. And perhaps a small part of it is looking at all this time, energy, and money that people put into religion and wishing they would use those skills to the benefit of other things. It seems kind of sad that if you only have one life you spent half of it worshiping a god that probably doesn't exist. In summation, I am quite happy being agnostic, and the idea of a world without a god does not scare me. (Neither does one with a god, but that's beside the point.) The universe is an amazing, fascinating, and beautiful thing with or without a god. Besides, I don't really think I want to "live forever" either. Hope this helps answer your question.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Harry Hippobottomus

      Evil is willfully harming others. No God or vote necessary for that definition.

      "Seems to me the eccense of most religion is love and selflessness, and thus the admission that we as humans tend not to exhibit those "qualities". " – No. Religion has consistently manifested itself as intolerant and greedy – history has shown that ad nauseum. Study after study has shown religious people commit more crimes, are more in favor of war and torture, have no advantage in rates of divorce, and so much more. In practice, religion has actually proven to be an impediment to morality. Rates of crime in secular countries is much lower than in religious ones.

      "Existence beyond that which we can perceive" – I corrected your spelling issues. As to the content, there is absolutely no evidence of this existence – no, the Bible does not count, as there are many other books of ancient superstitions that tell of other existences which you would actively deny. No evidence. You are basing this assertion on pure ignorance.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Steven Mading

      You have it backward. Most atheists lack the belief that there's an an afterlife of infinite duration. Therefore they have MORE reason to care about this life than people who do believe in an afterlife. Let's presume a typical human lifespan of about 75 years. A ratio of 75 vs infinity is identical to a ratio of zero vs infinity. The finite life of 75 years rounds down to zero in comparison to the infinite afterlife. This is exactly WHY we atheists make a big deal out of this issue. If you believe the goal of morality should be to optimize for the afterlife (i.e. "save" people from hell and help them get to heaven), then you are assigning to THIS life to a status of total irrelevancy. And that's something that does affect us, your neighbors, whether we agree with your claims or not. We care about this because YOUR beliefs affect everyone else too here in the only life that matters, the one that we are living right here and now. They affect us every time they influence an election. They affect us every time they influence the population. A morality that is based on the afterlife is no morality at all because it diminishes the brief fleeting precious life we actually DO have.

      August 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  9. JustininATL

    Funny, these commenters...they usually take the view that faith is a matter for the less educated...now they find one more way to spin this finding.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Blaqb0x

      This study just says less educated people "attend church" less often. Not that they don't believe.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  10. Lodoviccio

    Maybe they finally got a clue that religion brings virtually NOTHING to the table except magical thinking.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  11. Matthew Kilburn

    People are becoming less religious, not less spiritual...

    Evangelical Protestantism is digging its own grave, and it has been ever since the split from Rome centuries ago. When you start telling people that they don't need the Pope, or sacraments, or Communion, or to be attached to the church which Christ himself founded, that eventually bleeds down into people thinking they don't need the guy shouting from the pulpit telling them they don't need the other stuff either.

    So they'll read their bible at home, and pray, and interpret it how they will...but they won't see the need in waking up early sunday to sit in the pews and listen to the sermon.

    Its a shame, really, because this is how many protestant denominations have become infested with acceptance of all sorts of sinful things, including Gay Marriage.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • RV1982

      Interesting observation...kinda sounds like Luther telling the Pope he isn't necessary. I tend to agree with most of what you say. I must admit however, that I do enjoy bible study with a small group who are not afraid to "challenge" what they hear or read. Maybe that is what this church study reflects...educated people like to be challenged in their thinking. Uneducated people do not like to "think", and just want to accept things as they are. Maybe chuches today are challenging people to "think" or contemplate about themselves and the world around them which is a "turn-off" for the uneducated.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  12. the dragon

    I think the real connection here is that more people are getting a college education than in the 1970s. And that's a good thing, as is the drop in people believing in invisible sky daddies.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Matthew Kilburn

      "invisible sky daddies"

      You know, the atheist argument MIGHT be halfway convincing if they could offer up some real alternative idea of how we all got here. But, for a very good reason, the idea that we are all the result of a giant cosmic coincidence with no intelligent direction, formed from star dust that created everything but came from no place we can figure out – yeah, that just doesn't cut it.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • C. Bridget

      I must say that as a scholar of religious studies, "Invisible Sky Daddies" is my NEW FAVORITE TERM!!!! Thank you Dragon and the "invisible sky daddy" that created you!

      August 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • EnergyBeing3

      LMAO ... I love the term "Santa In The Sky" because most people barter with God for "STUFF" or to get situations to turn out their "egoic way". It's laughable.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Matthew, why do you have to know where life came from? I understand the curiosity and potential usefulness of understanding our origins. But to simply believe in a good story because it satisfies a hunger does not make a lot of sense. Frankly, as their is zero evidence of biblical beginnings and there is a lot of physical evidence for the various scientific theories, I'll go with the incomplete but possible theories over the fictional supernatural stories. Though they can make good reading sometimes.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "But, for a very good reason, the idea that we are all the result of a giant cosmic coincidence with no intelligent direction, formed from star dust that created everything but came from no place we can figure out – yeah, that just doesn't cut it."

      You should have said that it doesn't cut it for you. There's more evidence that this is the case than for your god.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Blaqb0x

      @Matthew Kilburn

      Judging by what you "THINK" Science tells us about how the Universe was formed and how we got here, I can see why you are so confused. But, I don't see how a creation story written by nomadic tribes men is any better. Do you take any other beliefs from books written by nomadic tribesmen from the Bronze Age?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Steven Mading

      The irony is how Matthew Kilburn has no problem whatsoever with believeing that something as fully-formed and complex as a god needs no cause. Why do people constantly think that "The universe exists even though I can't name a cause for it" is somehow a *more* complex assertion than "The universe exists and was caused by God, but God, in turn, exists even though I can't name a cause for it"?

      Why is the inability to name the cause of your god *less* of a problem than the inability to name the cause of the universe? Where does that twisted logic come from?

      August 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  13. Joxer the Mighty

    The bickering on this board really upsets me. Christians: Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust off their feet and leave someone who doesn't want to hear the Gospel. God will judge them as he sees fit so you don't need to point your finger at them condemning them. Athiests: Why do you continue coming to the belief section just to tell believers how stupid they are? What are you accomplishing?

    August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • MarkinFL

      1. This is an interesting topic since it involves such a huge portion of our population.
      2. Since such a huge portion of our population believes in this stuff it affects everyone else.
      3. Some are just trolls that like to bait anyone they can.
      4. Not every comment is about how "stupid" believers are.
      5. Many times the atheists are baited and come back harshly.
      6. Perceptions are different on each side.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  14. Steevn

    I am a college educated professional who has stopped going to church many years ago. My parents raised me in a strict, obey the master (minister) church. I saw everything that you see everywhere else. Greed, corruption, control, intimidation, people ostracized when they asked a simple question. And this was at all of the churches that we attended over the years. Finally, I prayed for myself. Once I cut out the middle man, who "told" us what God told "him" that we should do, I had a better relationship with God, with myself and with others. I find that Organized Religion is all about control, who you give your money to and obeying the "ministers" interpretation of what he says God told him. I now give all of the money that I would give a church to actual grass roots organizations that actually DO feed the hungry, help kids who can't afford school, etc. And I feel much, much better about my life and my personal relationship with my higher power. Just my story. Don't care if anyone likes it or not, approves of me or not, I just decided to share it.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Rick

      Its sad that you had the experience. But at least its not really that way.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Rick

      By the way. I'm not trying to argue with you. But I do want you to know that not all churches are like what you experience. We literally feed the homeless with our food that we cook about once a week. We also supply an entire local poor school with school supplies that we go buy ourselves. We're not the only church by a long shot that does these types of things.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • M Freeman

      Steevn – Thank you. I did the same thing many years ago. When you see the new mega churches being built for 10s of millions of dollars you realize the money is not helping those in need.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Nannalow

      I am a pastors wife. I found years ago, that a good rule of thumb for picking a church is that if the pastor points to himself as an authority – walk out the door. A pastor should always point to the Bible as the authority. A pastor should admit that he is but a man and fallible, and challenge his congregation to holding him accountable to the truth. There will always be disagreements between members, but any minister who cannot back up what he is saying with scripture -used in the context it was meant to be used – needs to say it is his opinion and not from God. Secondly – look to priorities, generally if a church is decadent ... they have mixed up priorities – a church building should be nice, simple, and not overdone. If they have a large $90,000 statue out front, walk out the door. Large and efficient is okay, large and flashy – not. Finally – If the minister spends more time telling stories than he does talking about what God says about a subject – walk out the door. Each point the minister makes should be supported by scripture. .... The rest of picking a church is mostly about preference – do you like traditional or contemporary, do you want big church or small, are you looking for a specific ministry to be offered... Finally, although it should be the most important ... prayer... asking where God wants you to be. You really should not be disconnected from other believers. That does not mean you have to attend a traditional church – there are many many alternatives available now – home churches, bible studies... it is important to meet with other believers. Just some words of opinion :).

      August 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • J.W

      I think that most churches have programs to help people or give a large amount of money to charitable organizations. Unfortunately the megachurches are the ones seen on TV so that is the picture of church that we see. As far as Steevn's experience, I felt the same way when I was younger, but I found a good church that encouraged discussion and did not just tell people how to believe.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  15. King David

    Going to church doesn't guarantee a trip to heaven! You are the temple 1 corinthians 3:16, 6:19

    August 25, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Nannalow

      My favorite saying that illustrates this is "Just because I stand in a garage it doesn't make me a car, anymore than sitting in a church makes me a Christian".

      August 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  16. Kathie

    Or maybe its because of today's economy people are tired of giving 10% or more of their hard earned money. People are finally starting to look at the likes of Joel Olsteen and not liking what they see.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Lodoviccio

      Bravo, well said!

      August 25, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  17. NOT MY CHAIR

    this goes to show that people are getting tired of the old religions, i think its about time we make up a new one... its a shame Scientology didn't catch on. i think we should create a new Greek type religion, the stories are there we just need to change the names so the mass's don't know what we did

    August 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Cranston

      I suggest we fire the mythical sky fairies and call the new religion "Reality". It would have one rule: Do not knowingly and avoidably harm another person.

      That just about covers everything.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • the dragon

      Excellent idea Cranston – I think we'd all be better people if we understood this was our only shot at life, and I think people would appreciate their time here and make more of it.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Lodoviccio

      Let's merge Mormonism and Scientology and create "The New and Improved Moron-ology" The basic tenet of the faith will be this: Angry aliens will move from inside a volcano to fight the forces of evil on Kolob but they will be protected from harm by their magic underwear.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • tallulah13

      Lodovicco, I think that's the best religion, ever!

      August 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  18. Paul

    Hahaha this article missed the VERY important statistic that the less educated are more inclined to be even remotely religious than the educated... and it just attempts to fool the idiots and skirt around that crucial point by talking about "how often those who are religious attend church". Sad.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Bruce

      No, the article correctly (or at least pragmatically) defines "religious" as "those who regularly attend weekly church services" rather than trying to define the term in a way that requires us to read peoples' minds to discover what individual people really really believe about religious ideas X, Y, and Z.

      It has to do with the nature of quantifiable results. People educated in science tend to understand this.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Just as what a person says proves little about their belief, church attendance is also a poor indicator of belief. Many strong believers never attend a church and many hypocrites and poseurs do.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Bruce

      MarkinFL: The article doesn't say church attendance is indicative of belief. It equates church attendance with religiosity.

      Unless you think that science is supposed to go around reading peoples' minds, which is utter nonsense and puts you in the "psychic" camp of thought, then the pragmatic definition of "religious" that the article uses is quite appropriate.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I guess if you equate religiosity with "religiously" attending a church then it means something. I'm just suggesting that such markers of religiosity tell us very little besides the social standing of the church. It may be a reflection of those feelings, but it may be a funhouse mirror type of reflection.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  19. J. Hicks

    This is absolutely ridiculous theist propaganda!! If a REAL study were conducted, we would so easily find that the exact opposite is true. This is why our well educated scientific community is NOT in any church on Sunday. It appears that the religious are feeling pretty desperate to evade the truth of what's happening in this country. People are WAKING UP and realizing that they've believed in a primitive fairy tale for generations. People are walking away from it in droves!!

    August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Mike from CT

      It's funny you bash the article for propaganda while... spreading propaganda.

      Would you like to give us your studies' findings.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Amazing ....I guess if it were a real "study" it would have come out favorable to your view of life. 😀

      August 25, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Bruce

      You should probably read the article, J. Hicks. The statistics show that both educated and uneducated people are leaving the church, it's just that the uneducated people are leaving at a faster rate than the educated people.

      It even goes into some plausible/probable causes for the discrepancy in the outflow rate that concerns the social aspect of insti.tutions such as the church, marriage, and work.

      Honestly. This is not at all a pro-theist article. Not in the least.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • EnergyBeing3

      @ J. Hicks ...... YOU NAILED IT (no pun intended) ...... It's funny how those who do basic critical thinking and read through a few Atheist web sites ( one of my faves is TheThinkingAtheist ) and soon realize just how much of a total scam the Christian religion is and how they've been brainwashed just like kids who believed in Santa or the ToothFairy. I guess it hurts to think too hard for some people and they love being addicted to their religious delusions.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  20. John

    This study is looking at the rate of decline of these two groups. Maybe the educated left religion at a higher rate at some earlier point. Maybe the two groups are reaching an equilibrium. Who knows? There's not enough information here. Just speculating–on really limited data–just like these researchers.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      this article talks about people going to a 4 year school as being educated... i disagree with that, as a recent graduate it seemed more like a lot of people parents paying for them to go an d the kids going to party, they take silly class's with crappy teacher. that's not education that's wasting time because you don't want to join the really work force

      August 25, 2011 at 11:27 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.