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October 9th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Survey: One in five Americans has no religion

Editor's note: CNN recently won four first-place reporting awards from the Religion Newswriters Association. Read more about the awards here.

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans.

Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.

Pew found that those who are religiously unaffiliated are strikingly less religious than the public at large. They attend church infrequently, if at all, are largely not seeking out religion and say that the lack of it in their lives is of little importance.

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And yet Pew found that 68% of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in God, while 37% describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” One in five said that they even pray every day.

John Green, a senior research adviser at Pew, breaks the religiously unaffiliated into three groups. First, he says, are those who were raised totally outside organized religion.

Survey: Protestants no longer majority in U.S.

Second are groups of people who were unhappy with their religions and left.

The third group, Green says, comprises Americans who were never really engaged with religion in the first place, even though they were raised in religious households.

“In the past, we would describe those people as nominally affiliated. They might say, 'I am Catholic; I am a Baptist,' but they never went" to services, Green says of this last group. “Now, they feel a lot more comfortable just saying, ‘You know, I am really nothing.’ ”

According to the poll, 88% of religiously unaffiliated people are not looking for religion.

“There is much less of a stigma attached" to not being religious, Green said. “Part of what is fueling this growth is that a lot of people who were never very religious now feel comfortable saying that they don't have an affiliation.”

Demographically, the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.

According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated. Among “older millennials,” born between 1981 and 1989, 30% are religiously unaffiliated: 4 percentage points higher than in 2007.

Poll respondents 18-29 were also more likely to identify as atheist or agnostic. Nearly 42% religious unaffiliated people from that age group identified as atheist or agnostic, a number far greater than the number who identified as Christian (18%) of Catholic (18%).

Green says that these numbers are “part of a broader change in American society.”

“The unaffiliated have become a more distinct group,” he said.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Pew's numbers were met with elation among atheist and secular leaders. Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance, said that the growth of the unaffiliated should translate into greater political representation for secular interests.

“We would love to see the political leaders lead on this issue, but we are perfectly content with them following these demographic trends, following the voters,” Galef said.

“As more of the voters are unaffiliated and identifying as atheist and agnostics, I think the politicians will follow that for votes.

“We won’t be dismissed or ignored anymore,” Galef said.

The Pew survey suggested that the Democratic Party would do well to recognize the growth of the unaffiliated, since 63% of them identify with or lean toward that political group. Only 26% of the unaffiliated do the same with the Republican Party.

"In the near future, if not this year, the unaffiliated voters will be as important as the traditionally religious are to the Republican Party collation,” Green predicted.

Green points to the 2008 exit polls as evidence for that prediction. That year, Republican presidential nominee John McCain beat President Barack Obama by 47 points among white evangelical voters, while Obama had a 52-point margin of victory over McCain among the religiously unaffiliated.

According to exit polls, the proportion of religiously unaffiliated Americans who supported the Democratic presidential candidate grew 14 points from 2000 to 2008.

In announcing the survey’s findings at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Bethesda, Maryland, Green said the growing political power of the unaffiliated within the Democratic Party could become similar to the power the Religious Right acquired in the GOP in the 1980s.

“Given the growing numbers of the unaffiliated, there is the potential that that could be harnessed,” he said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Faith Now • Politics • Polls

soundoff (7,763 Responses)
  1. Lee Oates

    The human species is growing up.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • End Religion

      such a wonderful time to be alive!

      October 9, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • Age Of Enlightenment

      About time too! Those numbers will continue to grow at an increasing rate too. Let's hope the theists don't kill everyone first!

      October 9, 2012 at 4:52 am |
  2. josh rogen

    I think many are mislabeling people as atheist simply because they reject the concept of god portrayed by organized religion.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • NelsonM

      That is the point, after all. People have been making up deffinitions for the word "god" since we first tried to explain the unexplainable. By deffinition, those people are called theists. And the people who do not believe them are called a-theists.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • drgonzo

      I think the number of atheists is actually under reported. It's still legal to discriminate against someone for having no religious beliefs. I've seen HR departments do it. So honestly I think the number is much higher. There are a number of people (especially Catholics) who just go through the motions, not believing but participating because of family obligations.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Rob-Texas

      drgonzo- So your point is they were not Athiest before they could be loud and proud? Just because you can openly cliam to be one today doesn't mean you were not one before you could publicly claim it. I really don't think there are more today than there have ever been. We just have more people proclaiming what they believe. Do you believe there is more crime and hate now or is it just because of the internet that we now know of it.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  3. conoclast

    With Gravity and Time who needs a god?

    October 9, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Vlad

      Humans do...because one day, we will die. And after death, judgement comes.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • NelsonM

      Vlad, after death, there is no judgement. The consciousness dies with the brain.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Bill Maher

      Vlad, and your proof is what?

      October 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • JohnnyC

      Vlad, you are wrong. And you misspelled judgment. Good luck with it when it comes your way.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • JohnnyC

      Whoops, sorry Vlad, you are right. Nelson is wrong. My mistake. However, you both misspelled judgment.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      There are many doctors and scientists that disagree with you NelsonM.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Paul

      Rob-Texas : Doctors and Scientists might disagree, but even they don't know. There `faith` in the matter is mostly irrelevant. What matters about this topic is the proof of such a being in which non exists. Feel free to provide some evidence.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Jack

      I assume that this is your attempt at being intelligent? I bet you posted this to your Twitter as well? I can only imagine what you would write if you had some knowledge on your side. Imagine what remarks would come out of you if you had the proof that time actually did not exist (there is such a proof in physics and philosophy). Before you begin spouting stupidity, it is best to know what you are talking about before telling the world what foolish notions you entertain.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  4. Peter McDonald

    The Korean War was raging. I was a newly minted soldier. They marched us into the base chapel where a Priest, Minister and a Rabbi told us that we must kill for our country. They told us to forget that Commandment that read "Thou shalt not Kill" You have to admire these clergymen. They did not even blush.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • shawn l

      Religion and hypocrisy? Say it ain't so!

      October 9, 2012 at 4:21 am |
  5. Alicia

    Interestingly, the Bible talks about the rise of people either leaving the faith towards the very end or not having faith....so, it's accurate. This would have been too ironic for someone to write about 1500+ years ago.

    I tell the non believers that have a hard time dealing with Christianity (which, I am) that they won't have to put up with us much longer & after we're gone ( the TRUE Christians, that is) they will have the world to themselves and will be within the purview of the new world order. I hope they can deal with that.

    Nope, I'm not a conspiracy theorist because it's not a "theory" anymore, it's real and there is tons of evidence if you just look for it. I don't wish this on anyone, anymore that I wish Hell on anyone. It will be extremely unbearable. ( We were just a bad nuisance in comparison).

    Sound like another threat that you have come to be familiar with from us "fundies"?.... well, it's a threat alright, just not from us this time.

    God Speed to all.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Dianne

      You fall for it all. Nobody else has to.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • magmore

      Wow .. ignorance like yours is really disturbing. Just because there are tons of bibles does not mean they are true. There are tons of qurans as well. .
      I like many christians. I know they are morons . Victims of fear and ignorance. People who prefer to believe in fairy tails rather than facts are lazy and bring down our humanity.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Michael

      Yes, the Bible is full of petty scare tactics and guilt trips meant to keep the sheeple in line. Nothing in this world lasts forever and that's the only knowledge you need to know that Christianity was doomed the moment that it began. The Greek pagans, I'm sure, were quite confident that people would always believe in Zeus and such. Such beliefs were already waning when the Christians showed up on the scene. They saw what happened to the old gods and could easily guess that their god could meet the same fate one day, as all gods eventually do.

      "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors." – Thomas Jefferson

      Does this make Jefferson a prophet? Of course not, he just saw which way the wind was blowing. Indeed, the prophecies that are oftentimes pointed to as "proof" of the Bible's claims are oftentimes the self-fulfilled kind, selectively chosen, and usually deliberately taken out of context in order to prove the opportunist's claims. What is NOT mentioned are the dozens of prophecies in the Bible that were flat out WRONG, such as its claim that the Nile River would dry up.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • End Religion

      Wallow in your ignorance. Religion is 2000+ years of "end days." Why get on here and warn us with veiled threats what god's about to do? If you really want to save us come right out and tell us exactly what's going to happen. Tell us how we can save ourselves. Then present your proof. We need more comedy gold!

      October 9, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      By "after we're gone", I assume you're referring to the apocalypse that Jesus promised us would arrive about 2000 years ago (Matthew 16:27-28). Didn't happen then, hasn't happened since, isn't happening now, won't happen in the future, because he's DEAD!
       
      But let's say, against all evidence and reason, that some day it DOES happen. What's chance that YOU'LL be among the saved? Well, according to Revelation 7:4, only 144,000 are going to make the cut. (Of course, this tidbit of info comes a mere 3 verses after we're assured that the Earth has 4 corners, so you may want to take it with the same block of salt that the entire Bible deserves.) I figure that the 144,000 will probably be entirely innocent infants who died moments after birth, so I guess we'll be seeing YOU in hell, eh?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Alicia

      @End Religion....The "veiled" threat as you refer to is not veiled anymore... and I did tell you in my post... I mentioned "NWO". had you concentrated on what I was saying rather than thinking of what you were going to say sarcastically to me.. you would have seen it...:-).

      YouTube Search: Bilderberg and take your time.

      @ RichardSRussell.....

      The 144,000 refers to the saved Israelite's.... 12,000 from 12 tribes. You've listened to the wrong people and drew a proclamation from it. That does not even speak to the Gentiles.

      As for what God is going to do to you......is again, your misrepsentation, probably from your interpretation of someone...I don't know, but, before God even judges mankind, the Holy Rapture takes place RIGHT before the 7 years of Tribulation takes place. That's what I was referring to.....not some fire & brimstone judgement....that's a ways off.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • Don Boucher

      There is no evidence to support Religion. If you look for evidence with the predetermination that religion is valid, yes you can find all sorts of "evidence" but nothing tangible, or demonstrable.

      I don't believe in god for the same reason you don't believe in the Easter Bunny.

      October 9, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • mjack35

      @Michael.. I'm not here to argue with you but do your bible research before you speak of things PLEASe.. I believe it is the Euphrates river not the Nile.... And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof dried up, that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared." Revelation 16:12 ... Now go to google or bing.com (which I used and type in "Euphrates river drying up".. there are actual pictures and articles about it drying up.... Michael here's another one that might shock you.. Revelations 16:4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. Once again go to google or bing and type in "rivers turning blood red", or check it out on youtube. There are many things in the bible that are being done right now, if you just pick the bible up see what it says, and you for it.

      October 9, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • Mark

      Google "confirmation bias"

      October 9, 2012 at 5:24 am |
    • AmishCake

      There is no evidence.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • southernbelle

      Very well said! These people will bow one day and confess that Jesus is Lord.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • seriously123

      About time people come out of the shadows and let their true Athiest beliefs be known! Those numbers will continue to grow at an increasing rate too. Let's hope the theists don't kill everyone first!
      I dont care what you believe in as long as you/they don't force it on me and my children. Also please don't kill me or my offspring because you believe and I don't. Just leave me out of your fantasy world of myth, legend and tall tales and I will try not to shove reality down your throat.
      40+ Latinos on the side of the road with "Praise Jesus" signs this past Sunday just about put me over the edge...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • NelsonM

      Alicia, confirmation bias is a funny thing. People often like to point out things that support their position, while completely ignoring facts thats do not support their position. Basically, you are counting the hits and ignoring the misses. Yeah sure, the bible may have made a few claims that are true. It also made many more that are completely false. You'd think that the divinely inspired word of god would have fewer errors.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • pagan

      I have always found it rather interesting how Christians claim to love people then gladly consign them to hell for not believing as they do.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Rob-Texas

      I have seen the healilng power of God with my own eyes. Witnessed it. Doctors with no explination other than its a miracle. Not in the book or some bodies words, not in a campain, not in a fairy tail, not from the Easter bunny, and not out of some fear of death theory. Real healing right in my face, in the real world.
      So as you sit back and think that all Christians are brainwashed, have on reason, fall in line, live in fear. I can sit here and tell you that you are wrong.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Brad

      The bible also says that the end of days will happen in Pauls generation. He sure got that one right didnt he?

      October 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  6. John

    I became an atheist because I was tired of praying and not being heard.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Alicia

      @John...

      I fully understand you. Did you pray because you had the "need" to know the Lord?..or were you daring him to answer you during those times?.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • End Religion

      this is the part where Alicia instructs you on how to have a proper delusion. Because we all know if you don't pray exactly right, for the right reasons, in the right way, at the right time, under the right circumstances, well it just might not count as a "real" prayer. But of course, this will all be according to the rules of her delusion, which is by the way, the only True delusion. Everyone of the other version of the True delusion is false.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • Michael

      Alicia is in full cultist mode. She's ready to pull the "you didn't have enough faith" card and implore you to pray over and over again until you convince yourself that her religion is Truth™.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • Chester Meowsington

      Baby

      October 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      I can yell as loud as I want but if you have plugs in your ears, you will never hear it.

      The Bible tells us how to pray, and God doesn't answer dares. So her point is valid.
      Almost everything has an order to it, including prayer. I prayed for many years when I was in trouble, but never thought about God or prayed the rest of the time. Once I did start following what Christi tought, my prayers began to be answered even some I had long forgotten. Then God revealed to me how God was trying to answer my prayers but I was ignoring and not listing or looking with open eyes.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Paul

      No Atheist gives a rats ass what the Bible says, except perhaps in a historical sense. It's a fairy tale. Rob-Texas, I founded a new religion, and at the center of it is a pink flying unicorn as the one who will save us all. IT's TRUE. You are following the wrong religion my dear friend.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Jason

      God also doesn't heal amputees. I guess all amputees don't know how to pray properly.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Saint_John

      @Alicia...what are you wearing?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Jack

      John, I am sorry about your loss of faith. Please don't listen to Alicia. She is 100% wrong and it is because of people like her that more people will lose faith. You wish to know true religion? 1. People who say things can prove it with power. 2. People who say things have the fruits in terms of their character. 3. People who are religious have a belief system. Note that the belief system is the last thing but evangelical Christians are usually the ones who emphasize #3 first. That is wrong. If you analyze them, their faith is conceptual. Their god is mostly a concept. They are godly people (see #2) but they lack #1. Logically it does not make sense to go atheist if one's prayers are not answered but it is understood. God is not some order taker in the sky. That is not Her, Its, His, function. Prayer is more of us knowing who we are. It is a process of discovery. It is not the easiest thing to accept. Bible or Koran or Torah is not there to tell us the age of the universe or how the world was created. That is nonsense. Rather, it is stories, fables, which point towards something which we cannot explain. No, science cannot explain. Only our hearts can do so. Deep within, God calls forth. That call is for a relationship. As such, like all relationships, it can be quite a roller coaster. I can go on but the reason there are 33 million people without a formal religion is that people like Alicia and her pastor are around. They wish to keep God for themselves but the good news is that God can be found at the local pub, football game, anywhere, thankfully. Enjoy the adventure. All is life!

      October 9, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  7. William Hopper

    Atheism is just another way to say "I've read all your history and literature and still don't believe you". Want to know more? Check out "The Heathen's Guide to World Religions" on Amazon etc.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Dianne

      Religions are all made up crap. Don't believe anything you read or hear, believe only half of what you actually see.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Paul

      Atheist have read most literature. This is true. The thing that kills it for Atheists however is that there is absolutely no proof that any of the fables in the Bible/Koran or otherwise actually happened. It's a giant leap of faith that anyone with a scientific mind have trouble making.....and most don't.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  8. John Sonnenberg

    Growing up Lutheran and attending a Lutheran High School, I know firsthand how difficult it is to let go of religion.
    Because 80% of Americans are believers, this fact makes the 80% feeling they are right and feel confident the 20% of us are simply stupid. I felt this way, but I’m an engineer and decided I had to prove it. I embarked on a journey to prove to everyone that Lutherans had it all figured out. It didn’t take long to find out, I could not, and soon I discovered Lutherans were way wrong. I studied religion intensely of many years, and became atheist. It’s the only logical conclusion if you take the time to really study religion and where God came from.
    I put up a web site and wrote a book dedicated to helping people understand religion, God, and feel OK with letting go of both. It is here: http://www.wecreatedgod.com
    Enjoy

    October 9, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • Dmitri

      I welcome you to our autonomous collective!

      October 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • TCD26

      Your web site is poorly put together, offers no credible evidence, and is full of your rambling opinions. There is a reason your book is only $4.99 on Amazon.

      And after looking over your reasoning for no God, there is no credible merit. I am fine with arguments against God. But man, do your homework.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • End Religion

      resistance is futile!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • I wonder

      John Sonnenberg, You said in your post:
      "Growing up Lutheran and attending a Lutheran High School..."

      Yet you say on your web page:
      About the Author:
      "I grew up in Georgia and was raised a Southern Baptist."

      Which is it? Not that it matters which one - just that you are not consistent with these facts.

      October 9, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Age Of Enlightenment

      John, I applaud your effort and direction, but please, at least use a spell checker on your website! You're not doing any of us any favors by appearing so uneducated and unprofessional. You have the right idea. Please treat it with some dignity and respect!

      October 9, 2012 at 5:06 am |
    • Paul

      TCD26 :: He doesn't need evidence. The people making the claim of the existence of such a being needs to provide the evidence. You can't proof a negative my dear friend.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  9. Michael

    I thank all that is good in this world for this news. I consider myself religious, but am part of a non-theistic spiritual tradition. Not that I see theism as ALWAYS being dangerous... it would probably be more accurate to say that dogmatism is. However, the most popular theistic traditions have obviously led to much suffering, bloodshed, and injustice. When people stop listening to corrupt religious leaders and start thinking for themselves, we'll all be better off.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  10. SixDegrees

    Not surprising, really. Once it became acceptable to hold such beliefs, the large number of people who had otherwise been cowed into silence found their voice, and are no longer afraid to speak their minds.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  11. Atheist and PROUD!

    This is the most amazing article I have read all week. Atheism growing is proof that human beings are becoming more advanced, understanding that they do not need the crutch of believing in the supernatural to explain the _currently_ unexplainable. Very exciting news! Hooray for Atheism!

    October 9, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Kevin Harris

      Theism can be supported based on what we know, not on what we don't know. But it's ironic that you say "hurray for atheism". Atheism may be true, but if it is, you and I are dead meat! You sure you want to cheer about that?

      October 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Paul

      Kevin :: How are you and I "dead meat". Care to explain?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • erkman1999

      Thats the point of being an atheist. we don't KNOW. we have a belief but we don't know. Atheists are saying we don't believe in your madeup philosophy because it is not logical nor possible. "Magic" can not be proven yet we are told to believe in it with no proof nor conviction. There are over 22 "major" religions in the world and they all have two things in common; No proof and blind faith. An atheis is saying :i don't know whats out there or what happens, but i do believe that your mumbo jumbo, magic kool-aide is not right as it condraticts itself.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  12. wes

    well gosh I wonder why? could it be that people are moving on? piece by piece the bible as been proved wrong. its number 1 enemy is science. and science is what I belive in.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Atheist and PROUD!

      totally agree!

      October 9, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Clark1355

      Yes!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • Bill Clayton

      yes! well said! Atheist and proud!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Rob-Texas

      science is not the enemy of religon, they go hand in hand. Please tell me what new science has proven the Bible to be false.
      The are archeological discovries all the time to so the time and place and people in the bible are acruate.
      Many athies used to say that the imaculate conception was the craziest thing they had ever heard. Not possible, science shows that you can not get pregnant without inter -c-ourse. Then science gave us artificial intimation which shows it was possible.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Paul

      Rob-Texas :: Science and religion do not go hand and hand. This is what you've been told since a lad because science has been an overwhelming force describing the things that were once religious ideas. Given more time, you'll find that where you find God currently eventually you'll find science. It's really just a matter of time.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  13. ryan124

    YES!!! Whooooooooooooooooo!!! Celebration! Religion can go to hell! LOL.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Doug

      They are already there... The most evil force on this planet is religion.. I find them disgusting and very uneducated !

      October 9, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  14. buffalo

    Freedom OF religion also means freedom FROM religion. I don't care what you believe in; who or what you "pray"to;what book of fairy tales you take as a literal manual on how to live your life. Just keep it to yourself! Shut...up! I'll be glad to talk about anything else you might want to discuss. But Please! Stop with the religious drivel. Thank You.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  15. RichardSRussell

    It is important to note that SECULAR means you think the government should stay out of religion, and vice versa. Both atheists and theists can be secular, tho it's probably more important to atheists and more widespread among us. The general idea is that each individual should be free to choose her or his OWN religion — or none at all — which is the very definition of personal liberty.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  16. Michael Lee

    BEST NEWS EVER...im so excited for our youth ...

    they will experience a world driven by knowledge...and not by the fairy tales of their parents
    my kids will be atheist....and their kids will be atheist

    October 9, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • jo blow

      AMEN!!

      October 9, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Hey

      You don't have to accept my ideas, but just saying that by killing religion you kill culture, and those stories are thousands of years old, religion has value, religion will live on, just don't beat one of your kids if they chose a faith on their on

      October 9, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • End Religion

      religion has no value. We already have plenty of myths and fairy tales to pass on to children. I'd rather they hear "Little Red Riding Hood" anyway, because the jesus myth has too much violence.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  17. Patrick

    James, you sound like such a pathetic goon. "I don't want atheist grandchildren". Like that would change anything. Keep your hokey religions to yourself dude.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • James

      You don't have to accept my ideas, I just firmly believe humans are special, that their is good, and bad, and that anyone has potential.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Atheist and Proud!

      For someone who thinks human beings are so incredibly special with sprinkles on top, you think you would have paid attention more in English class. It's there not their.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Observer

      "I just firmly believe humans are special, that their is good, and bad, and that anyone has potential." unless, of course, they are atheists.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • There is no black or white, only shades of grey.

      Also, there is no such thing as good or evil. Some humans might be more on one side of the scale than the other, but this all or nothing attempt at explaining humanity in its most general sense is part of what's most wrong with religion. It divides.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • James

      I believe everyone has potential, and I am sorry for the mistake, but I'll let you know I'm quite intelligent and am considered far above average, the best in my grade actually, and I realize you will criticize me for being smart and religious

      October 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • End Religion

      James, you are not special. There may be many of you in our multiverse. Some of you are religious, others maybe not.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fabric_of_Reality

      October 9, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Dmitri

      If you are smart that is good. If you are religious that is bad. We all use moral relativism to function as human beings, so don't be surprised when it turns out that you cannot intelligently defend your religion. Religions are delusional belief systems.
      Don't take my word for it. Research your religion to discover the truth. Understand what evidence is and go looking for it.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • Atheist and Proud!

      You're the smartest in your grade and you can't differentiate between there/their/they're? I am a middle of the road freshman high school student, and I would never make such a mistake even on my worst day.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  18. albie

    This article literally made my day – going to sleep with a smile on my face now

    October 9, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • magmore

      Me too .. SO HAPPY!!

      October 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  19. Hey

    I'm not a nazi, I'm not an extremist, I just want the traditions my great grandparents have held to be passed on, their values, their morals, their manners, I am glad to say I'm not part of that movement.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      The tradition of MY grandparents, who hailed from Serbia, was that Croats were dishonest and Montenegrans were filthy. I'm pleased to say that THEIR children, who grew up in America, left those bigoted old-world prejudices behind them, and I hope your grandchildren will do so as well.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Hey

      I will tell my kids of those prejudices, they are occasionally funny, but certainly not pass them on

      October 9, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • End Religion

      so pass it on already. Your kids will be smarter and more courageous than you, and you will be the last in your family to pass on your religious tendencies.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • CJA

      You want the traditions of your great grandparents passed on? Why stop at them? Why not pass on that old Druid religion where we worshiped trees and rocks? Because "times change" hopefully for the better, slowly, very slowly, we get smarter.

      These 25 years olds who are 30% "unaffiliated" will in another 30 years be the people in power.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Shane

      You don't need religion to have morals, or manners.

      But to each their own, and it your choice to what you believe. Thats the great thing about a secular society.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:45 am |
  20. James

    Im young and it kinda scares me, I don't want my kids to be atheist, I don't want atheist grandchildren.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • albie

      you'd rather have them brainwashed?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • James

      IT IS NOT BRAINWASHING! What is so wrong with believing in something and having faith in the idea of a source of infinite good, the idea a family will be watched over warmly in their darkest hours, that the good people who stand tormented amongst their enemies day to day and still treat them with utmost kindness will be given an eternal haven with their family. What is wrong with teaching that light exists in the darkest of places. What? What is so wrong?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      What's wrong with having faith in the idea of an infinite good? The same thing that's wrong with having faith in ANYTHING — the fact that faith is the world's worst method of making decisions. Nobody ever uses faith to determine anything that really matters, like what car to buy or where to send your kids to college or whether to take a job in a different city. People opnly haul out faith for things that are totally irrelevant and meaningless, like the fate of your so-called "eternal soul".
       
      But don't take my word for it, test it yourself. Go to the busiest highway in town during rush hour, put wax in your ears and a blindfold over your eyes, and rely on faith to tell you when it's safe to cross. Go ahead. We'll wait.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • joewilson

      @james

      it's wrong. that's why.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • HoneyBooBoo

      All cults claim to be good..and then murder people who don't believe or their own.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • James

      A world in which you can not rely on or have faith in another or something is certainly a world to corrupted to live in

      October 9, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • atheistg

      @james: do you believe in unicorns?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • James

      I would never kill anyone, remember, their are atheist extremists too,

      October 9, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • paperbottoms

      James, there is nothing wrong with your belief until that belief intrudes on education, politics, science, and much more. If religion was just a bunch of faith-hugs to warm people in the darkest hours, we would NOT have hatred towards LGBT communities, genital mutilation, women discrimination in religious sects, animal cruelty, and religious warfare worldwide. What you claim is good is a seed for great and powerful evil. If people were to embrace reality, people would be better suited to solve real world, and personal or "spiritual" problems. Remember there is no such thing as a christian child, just a child of christian parents. Let your grandchildren decide for themselves or you will die knowing you controlled their thoughts with faith based unproven beliefs. An atheist can be just as good as a person of belief, however, belief can make people do crazy things for a reward of afterlife.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • magmore

      What's wrong with having a faith in an infinite god? Everything as there is no such thing . The universe is infinite and it really exists. Astrology is more science than any religion as it is affected by things that actually exist. . How about worshiping the things that actually impact your daily lives. The sun , the earth, the moon.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • James

      So, your saying we should all believe we live in a world that is in no way special, all has happened by chance, there is no pleasure or happiness, it is just chemical impulse, we are all driven by want, and that no one is in any way significant, and that we are controlled by mindless balls of membrane enclosed goop that live only to live a brief moment? I'm sorry, but I would rather not.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Ole

      It’s better to know that you need to fight or the truth in your darkest hours, not that you will be rescued by a spirit. Also, it is better to enjoy each and every day we have on this rock, the time spent with loved ones as we will never see them again when we are gone or smell the flowers of spring. When you hurt someone, you know there is no forgiveness, you can’t take it back so you don’t do it and that my friend, is true goodness.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • tallulah13

      James, do you think that people are incapable of goodness without religion? Do you think that people are incapable of hope without believing in god? I find that to be incredibly sad. Since there is no proof that any god exists, what you are saying is that you believe that a good, happy life isn't possible without belief in a lie.

      Fortunately, that is not the case, as atheists and agnostics are fully capable of living wonderful lives, full of hope and the desire to be decent people. I would hope that you would love your children, even if they don't believe the same things you do.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • just a guy

      James, you have nothing to worry about. Your atheist grandchildren will likely take better care of you. I say that becasue they will still care for you not out of guilt but because they love you. You see, atheists tend to do the right thing because they know its the right thing to do and not because they want to get to heaven or stay out of hell. And James, no one said that there is anything wrong with believing in God. If you want to believe in him (or her) go right ahead. The problem is when you start insisting that other people believe in your God, or you start killing in the name of your God or you start teaching nonsense like Creationism instead of science.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • Chris

      No James, it's the brainwashing of the dumb, the gullible, the uneducated, the crazy, the poor, and the needy among us. It's something we as a species are on the verge of outgrowing and will be all the better off for.

      It's called evolution. You're the caveman with his bone, we're the spacemen with our science. Deal with it.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Shane

      It doesn't mean religion will go completely away.

      I don't find anything inherently wrong with most religions, as long as they are not followed blindly (which is what tends to lead people towards the opposite of what their religions actually stand for). But if you do want your children to follow a religion, my advice to you is to introduce it to their lives, but do not shove it down their throats.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • Dmitri

      James, it is very sad to realize that your omnipotent father-fantasy doesn't really exist. Yes.
      If there was any kind of god that actually existed, everything would be massively different.
      If you cannot handle the truth, then go wrap yourself in your illusions and delusions.
      We cannot stop you from being insane. We can only try to make you see reason.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • End Religion

      Cults will never die out completely. There's too much money to be made. Every now and again someone's kid will run off with a god delusion and seek out James, who will be running his own cult campground by then, passing on his grandparent's wise ways as he fleeces the flock.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • yukon

      Nothing to fear James. Atheist children and grandchildren will simply be intelligent people who think for themselves. This is far better then going through life blindly led by someone else's opinion.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      RichardSRussell- You use faith everyday if you drive a car. You either have faith that it will start until it won't or you have faith that it won't start because it rarely does start. There are different levels.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      James don't listen to people on the internet, especially ones that are self absorbed and say hatefull things like: Brainwashed, stupid, blind, insaine, etc. You can decide for yourself. Children of athiests who have not experiance with Church and religion have found God without any outside help. They even posted an article on CNN, yes I can't believe it, about a girl who did just that. Christians have survived my waves of hate, this one is no different. The internet just gives people a bigger audiance.

      October 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.