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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. IamAthiesttoo

    Until there is 100% proof of who GOD really is and how Humans really came to earth then i will continue on in my life knowing that the real truth is still out there ' The Bible " was made written produced by MEN not GOD...

    October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • TJ

      I've always assumed that if their is a real god, it's just being playing a highly advanced version of The SIMS.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @TJ

      There was some projected statistical ana lysis done awhile back that it if something like 60% likely we 'are' in the middle of SIMS or Matrix like reality being run by a 6th grader thousands of years into our future.

      Peace...

      October 9, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  2. TJ

    Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  3. Robert

    Quit wasting your time thinking about the "next life" because there isn't one. There's no evidence for heaven, none for hell. Your consciousness does not extend into other realms. Just enjoy what you know is real: this life. Don't hurt anyone, and live life unafraid. There is too much to learn and not enough time. Spending your precious resources (time/money) on religion is a disgusting waste.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • pasigiri

      So what you are saying is that there is no consequence for one's actions. So what if someone kills another. Why the tears? Why the sorrow? They lived. They died. That's it. What? They have to live up to their crime?

      Don't be ignorant. If a person who trusts and follow Christ is wrong and your right, both have nothing to worry about and the disciple of Christ is just crazy. But if the disciple is right, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Kind of works out for the believer either way.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Bob

      Don't confuse "reproducible scientific proof" with evidence. There is tons of evidence that God and Heaven and Hell exist throughout history. Near death experiences, absolutely unexplainable happenings such as people speaking fluently in langauages they were never taught during bouts of demonic possession, witnesses and verified by secular doctors and psychologists, miracles like Fatima, for which not even the internet skeptics can provide a reasonable dispute.

      The devil's greatest trick is to convince man that he doesn't exist.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Bob

      You Wrote: " Near death experiences "

      I've had an NDE... what would you like to know ? The Christian version of Heaven and Hell and appearing before God to be judged was definitely *not* part of the experience, and i was out... for quite awhile. And... almost all NDE'rs 'do not' have any kind of the Christian version as well.

      You Wrote: " absolutely unexplainable happenings such as people speaking fluently in langauages they were never taught during bouts of **demonic possession** "

      You snuck that presupposition in there, Bob... "demonic possession." No evidence that there is "demonic possession" and... people speaking other languages fluently, has happened in cases of multiple personality disorder. Even to the point where one part of the personality is totally healthy and the other part of the personality manifests a serious disease... or different color eyes.

      You Wrote: " The devil's greatest trick is to convince man that he doesn't exist. "

      One of the greatest self-sealing arguments ever.

      Peace...

      October 9, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • snowboarder

      pasi – pascals wager doesn't work. for you to use that argument you would have to hedge your bets and grovel to a variety of gods to cover your bases.

      as for empathy and concience, they are evolutionary triats evolved for the advancement of the species.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Bob

      So you are suggesting to me that it is possible without the existence of a spiritual plane of existence, for a human being to be instantly fluent in a language they have never even HEARD? How can science possibly support that possibility?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Bob

      Interesting... you have a person (me) who has had an NDE, and you move right on by. And... your attempt to sneak "demonic possession" in as a presupposition, and you get called on it... again, you just move right on by.

      You Wrote: " So you are suggesting to me that it is possible without the existence of a spiritual plane of existence, for a human being to be instantly fluent in a language they have never even HEARD? "

      So far there are very few, if any truly validated claims of what you call "speaking a language they never heard" (Xenoglossia). So, first... I don't accept your presupposition that there are actual cases that it has happened. And... second, even if... and when... we may find there to be a case/some cases that prove to be scientifically true, it doesn't necessarily mean = "demonic possession" or "spiritual plane of existence."

      I'm betting should there be a case that can be proved, there will be a scientific explanation... and if they don't have one,... yet... they will in time, just like everything else.

      Peace...

      How can science possibly support that possibility?

      October 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  4. AZAmerica1

    Sigh

    October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  5. lamb of dog

    I can't wait for the day that the unaffiliated become the majority.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  6. Bob

    It shouldn't be much of a surprise, considering all the despair, suicide, and mass public shootings America has seen a rise in during the same time. Luckily, atheists are notoriously slow procreators, so they will never be anything near a majority.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • William Demuth

      Yes, but out Bio Chem backgrounds migh slow the Syphilitic Bunny reproduction of the Fundies.

      Plus we have Iran.

      You see we support the wars not to kill Muslims, but as a way to kill Fundies

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • chris

      It takes 18 years to raise a christian, I can cure them in an hour. So we don't need to procreate.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • charles darwin

      They are slow procreators because they find it hard to find a partner with enough smarts.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • I Am God

      Ahh another dumb troll showing his religious hatred. If there is a hell, you know you are going there right?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      @Bob – you sir are an excellent example of what is wrong with our country today. You are a hateful bigot who is unwilling to accept others for who they are. We are all human beings, Bob. Grow some tolerance for the good of society and for peace & hope for our children, future of our country and the world at large.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Bob

      How is it defensible to call me a "hateful bigot" based on what I posted? I believe there is an obvious parallel between violence and despair in our country and erosion of faith. I also believe it is factually true that atheists procreate less than theists, and I'm glad for that. You can disagree with me if you want and that's fine, but it's not a hateful statement I made. I did not suggest discriminating against or doing anything bad to atheists.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      @Bob – You may not have intended to show hatred and bigotry via your original post, but that is the way it is perceived by not only myself, but also by some of the others who remarked about your same exact post. Sorry if I upset you; that was not intended. My intention was to respond honestly to your post. Peace.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Bob

      So you are saying that your criticism is not defensible, but since other people share your bias and lack of reason, it's ok? Got it, thanks.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  7. Common Sense Rules

    Like it or not, religion will continue to become increasingly marginalized in this country as time goes on. Personally, my parents drug me to a local Baptist church as a kid but gave me the option at the age of 16 to decide whether or not I wanted to continue attending. I said no and with the exception of a few weddings, have not been inside of a church since. When I think of my current peers, neighbors, co-workers, etc, most of them under the age of 40 are an agnostic, an atheist, or a non-practicing [fill in the blank]. And I see no reason why that trend won’t continue.

    Having said all that, I don’t think religion is a bad thing at all. So long as believers don’t become fanatical or allow their beliefs to interfere with the lives of others. Many religious organizations provide care for the sick, food for the hungry, and clothes for the needy. So long as a religious group makes those services their primary mission, I have no problem supporting them, even as a non-religious individual.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Bob

      I would have also needed to be "drugged" to go to church.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • TommyT

      Spoken with wisdom!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      Very good point, Common Sense Rules. I do not mind or judge the religious who go about their own business and do good in the community and tolerate others. What I cannot accept are the religious-based bigots and bullies who think that they are better than everyone else and are God's chosen, so anyone not practicing their chosen brand of religion are sinners and forever damned. The religious extremists divide societies by encouraging intolerance and hate & also many times intentially create gridlock and prejudice in government (i.e. Tea Party). Just my opinion...

      October 9, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  8. Kevin Alexander

    I would suggest "fire insurance", much safer to err on the side you are so much against. Sad, sad irony.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • William Demuth

      Bet on Jeebus and Allah will use you as a virgin for Osama

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Kevin
      So does that mean you're going to try and die gloriously in battle so you can get to Valhalla?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Kevin Alexander

      " I would suggest "fire insurance", much safer to err on the side you are so much against. Sad, sad irony. "

      Please look-up and study *Pascal's Wager* and *why* it is no longer a valid argument, and get back to us then.

      Thanks.

      Peace...

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Steven Capsuto

      So your point is that one should study all the religions that ever were, and follow whichever one describes the worst punishments for not following it? Whoever dreamed up the worst hell wins?

      Whatever religion you happen to follow, you're risking the fires of damnation by not following dozens of other ones.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • JavaJoe

      If you're going the Pascal's Wager route, then shouldn't you convert to Islam? Allah doesn't seem to be as forgiving as Christ.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  9. Bob

    I disagree that most athesists and agnostics do not know much about religion. Those I have met, have done a lot of research on religion and concepts of God, but found them unacceptabe.
    Moral values do not require the belief is a supreme being, but does require a belief in certain social behavior. Society requires certain behaviors be encouraged and others (ie: killing) discouraged.
    Religion can be a powerful and great belief, and can provide strength to any believer in times of need.
    However, even the specific concepts of GOD, varies from one religious belief to another, in the World.
    Even the English BIble has 87 different version, which contain different books and exclude others, so just like the
    word God, they are not necessarily the same thing.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • lamb of dog

      Very true.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • pasigiri

      You almost sound like a Maoist and/or Stalinist.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  10. Hennahands

    To Luv U, who said; "Atheism is evil. You want to kill someone and think you can get away with it? Who's gonna hold you accountable? The FSM?"

    No, what holds us accountable is our own sense of morality and laws created by a judicial system. I hate to tell you this but most religions were created as a way to govern. Now that we have a democratic government, religious laws are quite moot.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  11. SadPanda

    Atheism, like most religious movements (yes you qualify regardless of how you wish to argue), falls into the same rote belief systems as many other believers of a faith. No true reason, no true thought, merely an attempt to rebel in some manner that allows them to feel like they are not like those who came before them.

    Individualism is the death of morality. Morals derive from selflessness....there is nothing selfless about the need to be yourself.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Amniculi

      SadPanda is sad because he is delusional. Poor sad panda.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      You can keep telling yourself all that...or you could think about it.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • aaron

      That's the stupidest thing I've read here yet.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • WASP

      @SAD: ok how can we have a belief in something that doesn't exsist? it's like saying not believeing in santa clause is a belief that he doesn't exsist. it's redonkulous. ;)
      humans need to believe in what we can do not wait around for some dead beat daddy figure to clean up our messes for us. time to tie your own shoes and head off top work little one, i know no one is going to make this world a better place other than us.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • lamb of dog

      Sad borg.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Really?

      Ah yes, the good old false equivalnce nonsense. If you broaden the definition of "religious movement" to include atheists it will lose its meaning: anything from CSI fans to a football club will qualify. Atheists are not the ones threatening others they will be tormented for ever and ever for disagreeing with them.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • SadPanda

      It seems some of you have a problem grasping my concepts?

      Not once in the above paragrap did I mention God, a religious belief that I held, or some statement revealing what faith I followed.

      It seems you have a wonderful ability to project upon another the idea that if they take a stance against atheism that they somehow fall in with those you consider your "enemies"...

      Are you bigots or sad borg yourselves?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """yes you qualify regardless of how you wish to argue"""

      No, sorry. We don't qualify. You can't just make stuff. We're on to you.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      where'd my UP go? lol

      October 9, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • SadPanda

      You're on to me?

      Forgive me for not really feeling as if that made any sense.

      Look at the generalized broad responses? The dogmatic, faith based (yes faith without reason), and rote replies given by the atheists just merely proves my point. The population fits the paradigm of religion.

      If you'll note I have once more stated no religious affiliation, nor did I leave out other religions in my original statements. You're not onto me, you're against actual thought.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """You're not onto me, you're against actual thought."""

      No, I'm against your rambling thoughts and convoluted arguments without any evidence they're even related to the subject. It's a feeble and vain attempt to appear cerebral. That's why I said I'm on to you.

      Comments like these:
      """Individualism is the death of morality."""
      """ Morals derive from selflessness"""

      These are not arguments against atheism, yet here they are.

      October 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  12. ForGoodOfAll

    Great news! There is hope for the future!!!

    October 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  13. Nat

    I hope GOD does come to save us all. It is people that has given up that has turned the US into what it is today.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • charles darwin

      Religion has turned the USA into what it is today.
      A crumbling mess!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Kevin Alexander

      He did come for all of us; the decision's up to everyone individually.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  14. Bill Clayton

    Thankfully religion is dying. Let it die. its only a matter of time. As church attendance shrinks, donations stop coming and people realize that they have been duped by a figure in power attempting to control the mass populace. Christianity is one of the biggest offenders of this but not the only offender. If you ask a staunchly religious person about these shameful acts that have happened, they don't seem to remember it, nor will acknowledge it. Basically its their religion and they don't want to be wrong. Sorry.. but there is no god. Never was... There was just some jerk that fed off this belief with one and all you reliagious people fell for it hook, line and sinker. Sucks to be you!

    October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Gorsh

      So you state there is no God. What do you base your belief upon?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • SadPanda

      Religion did not cause these atrocities. Only a fool would believe that.

      Humanity are animals. If you somehow think that if religion died such horrors would end then you have the beliefs of a child.

      There will always be reasons to be cruel to your fellow man....it's in our nature.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Sebastian2

      Gorsh, prove that their ISN'T one. You have the harder job, I'm afraid....

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Nick

      Science and reality. What do 'you' base your tales on?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Tom Baker

      Gorsh, I sincerely hope you recognize the irony of your question.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Jimmy

      Well at least you beleive in something, even if it's nothing

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Gorsh

      Sabastian, there is no proof either way. Anyone claiming knowledge for or against god is simply stating their personal belief.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • max

      Gorsch...there is just no evidence to support that there is indeed a god...only the contrary. Now if you insist that there is one, then you need to show the evidence...and I don't need stories about your emotions or told to read an archaic book...evidence please!!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  15. James

    Praying to God does not work because God does not micro-manage our lives and play favourite by granting requests. How we exercise the free will that God gave us, is what is important and if we choose to go good and not harm others, we will honour God and be doing his work. There is good un everybody,no matter what religion he or she has or does not have.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Bob

      There is no free will. We have brains which act, or more precisely react, in accordance to the laws of physics. Free will can not exist in a physical world as we know it.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  16. Chuck

    I'm one of those 1 in 5. Although I'm not arrogant enough to discount the possibility of a God, I do believe that the religions on earth have it wrong. Very wrong. Too much intolerance and hate for other religions and people to be divine in any way.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Gorsh

      Thank you, and welcome to the club. The evangelical atheists are just as closed minded and dogmatic as holy roller Bible thumpers.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      I agree with you 100%, Chuck!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Bob

      @Chuck, I'm a Catholic, but I really respect and appreciate that you are one of relatively few atheists I see publicly who acknowledges that to claim to be sure that God doesn't exist is arrogant, not to mention indefensible, given all we don't know about the universe. And for the record, I think it's an underpublished fact that Catholicism does not believe that one has to be Catholic to obtain eternal life. People of other faiths, traditions, and religion, if not exposed to Christs works and teachings, are only bound to be true to their own beliefs and culture, and we assume that the Holy Spirit can move people of other faiths with the same essence that moves Christians in Christ's name.

      Even other religions are not as intolerant as people assume. Islam does not condemn Christianity, for example, they consider themselves and Christians of the same God.

      But anyway, I just appreciate tat even though you are not moved to specific faith at this point in your life, you're still at least a reasonable person in how you assert your beliefs.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  17. rjsenterp

    Just because you don't "identify with a religion" doesn't mean you aren't religious. The most current numbers in the USA of people who claim to be Atheists account for about 0.7%. This is the way pollsters and politicians frequently distort poll results.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Gorsh

      True, so true. Yet atheists want to claim every agnostic, non-church going Christian, Wicca leaning pagan as their own to pump up their numbers.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Really?

      Atheists are 5% of the population, more than jews and mormons combined. Get your facts right.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @rjsenterp

      You Wrote: " Just because you don't "identify with a religion" doesn't mean you aren't religious. "

      True.... However, I think the pollsters are making head-way in making finer distinctions in their polling. The trend, *is* continuing to grow in that there are becoming more and more "spiritual vs. religious(adhering to Christianity for example), and if you start including agnostics, atheists, spiritual-but 'difinitely not believing in the God of the Bible, or in Jesus as Savior, etc... then the numbers are growing.

      Peace...

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Horus

      The article claims 1 in 5 have no religion; not that all are atheists.......

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • KR

      Gorsh – Most atheists want to be left alone and not have religion pushed on them.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Fn0rdz

      Less than 1%? Sources please.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Gorsh

      KR, atheists spouting their beliefs and insulting anyone who disagrees with them are hugely over represented on message boards like this. They are as bad as Jehovas Witnesses.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  18. Truth is light

    It funnt that most athiest know nothing about religion. They hear a few things from others and shut religion out before they even know anything about it.

    It's like saying ice cream is gross, but you've never tried it.
    Or saying the bible is false but never read it...

    October 9, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • mama kindless

      False. Most atheists know quite a bit about religion, and have seen it for what it is, rehashed fable.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • pauleky

      Heh...it's been my experience that atheists know MUCH more about the Bible and other religions than believers. Watching them debate a believer is awesome – believers usually clam up or just say, "we can't know." So, when I hear a believer say that atheists know nothing about religion, it makes me laugh out loud. Thanks for the morning giggle, Truth is light!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Yet multiple surveys confirm that the average atheist knows more about different religions than believers.
      Howhave you dismissed the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?
      As a Christian, how do you know whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, oriental Orthodox, As.syrian, Byzantine, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptism, Brethren, Methodist, Pietism, Apostolic, Pentocostal, Charismatic, African Initiated, United, Quakers, Couthcotti.tism, Millerism, British-Isrealism, Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, 7th day Adventism, Kelleyism, Co.oneyism, Shakers, Methernitha, Strigolniki, Yehowism, Christadelphians, Christian Science, doukhobors, Iglesia ni Cristo, Makuya, Molokans, Subbotniks, Ebionism, Martinism, Rosicrucians, Rastafarianism, Santo Daime, or Umbanda is the REAL interpretation of your God's words?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • mk

      Wrong. I was a devout bible-reading christian for 30 years and I thank god every day that I wised up, especially for the sake of my kids.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      I think it's funny that you are so demonstrably wrong. It is well established that on average atheists and agnostics know more about religion than believers do.

      As is common your comment is opinions/wishes presented as "facts"

      October 9, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • JC

      Studies have shown that non-believers usually know more about religions than the religious do. Know your enemy, right?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • JSB

      Actually you are quite wrong. Many surveys have shown that Atheists know considerably more about religion than believers: http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/09/28/survey-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-believers/
      The fact is that most atheists are highly educated and grew up in religion, only to question the veracity of its "moral truths". Since religion does not hold up to or tolerate questioning or independent thought, it is really no surprise that non-believers are growing in size. Religion was created by humans to try an explain the universe...science has replaced religious myth with fact.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • MCR

      I've heard the same thing from a believer in alien abductions. He was very upset that the rest of us didn't know the details about each and every case filed. You only have to know enough about something to know a few fundamental premises are flawed to move on – there's too much to learn about in the world without wasting your time on the details of fundamentally flawed theories.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Truth is light

      I'm not saying all athiest are bad people, (just like all christains are good),
      but from my expirience, I'm a active mormon, went on a 2 year mission and talked with a lot of athiest, been reading the scriptures for many years, and I'd say they think they know the scriptures. They find a few things that most christains dont know and try to confuse them, and most the time it works becasuse the christains aren't reading.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • cory

      actually, atheist tend to know MORE

      October 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • cory

      actually atheist tend to know MORE

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Amniculi

      "It's like saying ice cream is gross, but you've never tried it."

      If I study too much religion, will I get fat?

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • nhguy

      hey truth – you fault people with no religion because " they don't know anything about it". did it occur to you that religion was crammed down your throat before you were too young to "know anything about it" ? that's called brainwashing in my world.

      people like you are part of the reason people like me want nothing to do with organized religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • cory

      actually atheist tend to know MORE about religion then religious people

      October 9, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • flatpicker

      JC – You say that Athiests are the enemy of christians. So sad that someone who believes in God and someone who does not have to be enemys. How intolerant can one be.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Fn0rdz

      Dude- you follow a religion made up by a con man. Wake up.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • You're Wrong

      There you people go again, thinking that YOUR religion is the only one out there. Wow, you must be right and everyone else is wrong Athiests are choosing to ignore god and your organized religion. They're sick and tired of people fighting and killing each other over something that can't and won't ever be proven. I'm sorry, but just because there's a book about it doesn't mean it happened.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Truth is Light
      As a Mormon that's been on a long mission, how do you feel about the instructions you received about downplaying your religion's abhorrently racist recent past?
      Or how, from the beginning, the LDS has been primarly concerned with collecting money from the faithful?
      And where does the money go?
      According to the Deseret News Agency, the propaganda arm of the LDS, the Church has spent some $750 million internationally on charitable works between 1984 and 2006. They have also spent 4 times that amount (approx $3 BILLION) in ¼ of the time to build a mall in Salt Lake City.
      As a missionarry, you weren't paid a dime for all your hard work, trying to convert the heathens – but at the top of the LDS, the Prophet and the 12 are quite wealthy thanks to people like you.
      Thomas S. Monson, for example, lived in a 24000+ square foot condo estimated at a value of $2.8 million.
      Mormons are told: "if a dest.itute family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).

      October 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Zach

      It's funny how easy it was for you to make that up. Never tried it? Really? With so many religious people still in this country, who do you think raised the atheists/agnostics?? Most of them were raised in a religious household and decided to turn away from the church when they were old enough to realize how silly the whole thing was.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Shavonne

      I believe there was a study published not too long ago that said Atheists knew more about Christianity than Christians themselves. There’s a difference between Atheist and those who are apathetic to religion (non-religious). Most Atheists like me actually grew up in a religious household and did some prior researching before they came to a conclusion that they were Atheist or Agnostic. I started researching about the history of Christianity and the Bible and I didn’t like what I was reading. I believe religion was created to explain the unknown. But today we know so much about the worldand the universe thanks to science than the Bible can explain. I ask that all Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. look deep into their religion and what they are being told. Don’t just go by whatever your parents or society tells you to believe. Be more skeptical. My sister also reached Christianity and she became more religious! Go figure! :)

      October 9, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """most athiest know nothing about religion"""

      You have no idea what you're talking about. SERIOUSLY. You don't.

      As a personal example, I was raised in the Church of Christ but rejected it while in HS.

      But I still knew the bible. When in college I was deemed an "instrument of the devil" by the mucky mucks in the Campus Crusade for Christ because I dared argue against the Christian religion with one of their followers (a guy who had discovered I was non-religious and pestered me relentlessly). I had him so confused the CCC issued a statement on campus that none of their members were to talk with me.

      So, I know your myths. I know the ignorance of the cultures which produced your ancient texts. Bring it on, bub.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Bob

      In my experience, atheists often learn some very specific silos of information about religions, and them take them out of context and use them individually to build a case against religion, rather than understand it in context. For instance, if you tell an atheist you are a Christian and that you believe God is merciful, they'll go to to the Old Testament and find all the places where God smoked somebody and be like, "LOOK, GOD IS A HATEFUL GOD WHO KILLS EVERYONE!". And then, you have to decise whether or not you are going to have a longer religious conversation to help bring that into context.

      In general, I find that a lot of atheists do not seek to understand the big picture of how religions reconcile their beliefs and existence, but they do often learn information about religions.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Yes it is, verifiable, testable truth

      I likely know the bible better than you, I have attended many services at many different churches. That's what helps me know it for what it is – a book of parables assembled by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. It is a human book, nothing more. I seek truth – truth that can be independently tested and verified. You are a sheep nothing more.

      October 9, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Bob

      What do you know of my specific religious beliefs to call me names? You think you're Christoipher Columbus because you know about the Council of Nicea? How does it in any way condemn a religion that the most educated people they had on the subject got together to decide which books were legit and which were not? You think we believe that God physically put the words on the pages and sent it to the publisher? Plenty of people know the Bible yet still have major crises of faith.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • max

      Doc Vestibule....excellent points....

      October 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  19. Guest

    -If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    -Objective moral values and duties exist.
    -God exists

    October 9, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • mama kindless

      False. Circular logic will get you nowhere in life.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Aristotle

      Lame syllogisms exist

      October 9, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • JC

      So if god said that killing babies was the right thing to do, would it then be moral? No, it would not. Moral truths exist without a god. So there is no need, nor proof, of any gods.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Truth is light

      the world is becoming less and less moral, think if religion was completely abandoned, the world would kill itself, more broken homes, more crime, more children out without parents and so on and so on.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • doughnuts

      All moral values and duties are subjective, not objective. Morals change with culture and time.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • charles darwin

      The only place god exists is in your own mind.

      Not one shred of proof!! Just myths.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Truth is Light
      The Ja/panese have all but abandoned religion.
      Their have a rich cultural heritage, a successful economy, and far lower crime, divoce and abortion rates than the United States.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Nate

      Oh, how did i know this thread would be rockin' lol..people and their internet arguing..haha

      October 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Fn0rdz

      -If square triangles do not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
      -Objective moral values and duties exist.
      -square traingles exist

      October 9, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Jim

      FAIL!

      October 9, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Kj Stewart

      Morals and duties are the imagined characteristics of man attributed to a personal God. In fact they are the mental and biological conditioning of a specie and are relative. They neither prove or disprove God. However, That which is aware of mind, acting as the thought "Self" or "my morals" is often called God.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • mk

      @Truth. Religion has been around for 2000+ years and we still have "moral" problems. Ethics and morality are not solely predicated upon, or reliant upon organized religions in order to flourish and exist. Human beings have this innate characteristic called intelligence and intuition, upon which they can use to understand and practice empathy, logic, right and wrong, etc. You think people don't know how to act unless they have that list of ten rules shoved in their face everywhere they go? Those who believe in a god are only acting a certain way in fear of the punishments promised by that god. Those who don't believe in a god act a certain way for the good of humanity.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  20. John Sharp

    It is simply an eventuality. They will all lose their childish religious beliefs and grow up.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • smartaz

      Being an Atheist really does not signify any type of maturity. As the picture in the article demonstrates by the Atheist holding the sign. You also see it in many posts on these forums. It is a difference in philosophy rather a maturity and/or intellectual difference.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:22 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.