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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 • Politics • Polls

soundoff (7,763 Responses)
  1. Gorsh

    I would challenge anyone to prove that God exists. I would also challenge them to prove Poland exists. Good luck with both.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      Yes, By science, can any thing exist without constant, YES or NO ?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      I'm a little confused. Are you saying that since Poland is technically an imaginary set of lines drawn and since I can't take you to "see" this line it's as imaginary as god? Or is the whole, "pull out a map" too complicated for you?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Fallacy of the False Analogy. Try harder.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • white

      I would like to ask you gorsh,How did you come about to life?(yes both your parents),but keep asking the same question back and you will eventually come up with the question,who created Adam?The answer will be that someone created you.
      At the time of death,do you die and get buried and left to live in a grave?
      For all our sins we must be held accountable.(dont tell me Jesus died for your sins).If you get stopped for crossing a red light wouldnt you receive a fine that YOU would have to pay.That is the consequence of your action.

      Same thing for our actions wether good or bad we will either face punishment or credit for them.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  2. Mac

    American Athiests are one of the most intolerant groups of bigots in the history of the United States.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Please explain.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      They are way behind the Southern Baptist Convention

      October 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • pat

      I,personally, would like to remove ingodwetrust and undergod from things that are official government oaths and mottos. Do you consider me "intolerant?"

      October 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  3. Vic of New York

    1 in 5, is that all? There is no greater pall on society than organized religion. It was religion that led to the destruction of Carthage by the Coptics (Early Christian fanatics). It was religion that led the Christian fanatics to burn Rome (wonder why the Romans threw them to the lions? Think "Christian Terrorists"). Religion led to the "Holy Wars" – although there is nothing holy about the countless slaughter of thousands of innocents. Religion let to a European schism. Religion fed the ethnic "purification" of Slovakia. Religion justified the burning of "Witches" in Salem. Region feeds Muslim terrorists.

    Mick Jagger got it right in his "Sympathy for the Devil". John Lennon had it right in his "Imagine". Religion is a cancer to society. Well worth getting rid of.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Mac

      People will always come up with a reason to start wars – if they cannot use religion as an excuse they will use sometihng else

      October 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bob

      Religion has helped a lot more people than it has hurt. Our whole concept of charity exists because religions set the tone for taking care of the most marginalized and downtrodden people through free food, housing, medical care, and education.

      People who only acknowledge the negative things religious people have done and not the positives are intellectually dishonest.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • sam

      Bob – are you seriously trying to get us to believe that the whole concept of charity comes from religion?? Dude please.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Collin

      Did you just claim that the Christians burned Rome (Something Nero declared without any proof in order to find a scapegoat)? What history book are you reading? It has never been confirmed what group was actually responsible for burning Rome, so for you to blame Christians puts you in the same spot as Nero, the worst emperor in Roman History.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Bob: "Religious people" have done many great charitible works. Not because they are religious, but rather because it is the right thing to do. To claim that they only did these things because they are religious demeans their efforts as narcicistic and totally self serving.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It is ironic then that the most religious demographic in the United States are also the people most vociferously against social programmes.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Bob

      Putting all justified criticism of the Catholic church aside for a moment, there is simply no other organization that has given anywhere near as much money and manpower toward feeding, housing, clothing, and educating people around the world for 2000+ years. There's honestly no other organization remotely close.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Bob

      Removing the horrific actions of the Catholic Church in that discussion is like not taking politics into account of a critic of Hitler.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  4. RossC

    Learning about how the world works requires a lot of effort.

    Religion still survives because it provides answers.

    People that don't value efforts to understand how the world really works are especially vulnerable to holding beliefs that do not stand up to scrutiny.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jim

      "religion provides answers"!?!?!?!

      Really? How do you figure? Answers to what? Let me guess...

      "answers" as to why innocent children are slaughter daily in all corners of the world? Nope...I don't see an answer for that in religion.

      "answers" as to why member of another religion want to stamp out other religions and any people even remotely affiliated? Nope...no answers.

      "answers" as to why completely innocent and "God fearing" adults perish with horrible diseases every minute of every day? Nope...

      You're a tool. Religion is a blankee for the adult. It's something to lean on when times are tough. You hope things will get better by talking to an imaginary person for guidance/ help. Save it!

      October 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Jon

      Jim, Dude! You are arguining and insulting someone who has your same beliefs. Please learn to read.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  5. Guest

    The trouble is, religion is losing touch with the spiritual changes going on around the world. They have no clue as to what growth people are going through – all they deal with is the physical body and the laws of the Bible. They don't talk about the connection with God, living your life with God as your driver – learning and growing as a soul – rather than hearing about what a sinner you are and deciphering the Bible. As a New-Ager, changes are going on that the religious and medical gurus don't have any clue about since neither side wants to accept the other. They want to only see their side of things instead of working together to really see the evolution of the human race. The younger people are being born more aware of spirit and the "truth" about spirituality which adds to less people following traditional religion.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Clyde

      That's right religions lost touch. (they invented stuff). But the own things (hospitals, universities, cathedrals) and they have money so they have power. God is still God.. but religions perverted it to their own benefit.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      There is no god to do the driving. The whole paradigm is outdated.
      It's an ancient explanation myth for things early humans had no other explanations for.
      We now have explanations.
      Dump religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  6. Clyde

    Faith in God (even the Trinity) does not require anyone to wear black and drive horse carts in front of 18 wheelers, grow strange beards, worship on Saturdays, murder abortion workers, eat Kosher food, wear vermin shirts, mumble litanies, face Mecca, abuse women... there are no hidden codes in books, images on watermelons, magic mashed potatoes, rapture dates, special Latin words. There is no holier water, holier candles, holier priest, holier place .. holy clothes, holy food .. that is horse puck..ee God is laughing.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  7. Gorsh

    Agnostics are not atheists, or atheism is a word without meaning. Please refrain from manipulating language to force us into your dogmatic little club of illogical zealots. If your argument were stronger, you wouldn't need to play language games to pump up your numbers.
    Thank you.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • ThinkRationally

      Gorsh, most atheists, like me, are what we call agnostic atheists. We don't think there's a god, but we realize that we can't know for sure. I'd say that if you're agnostic, then that's where you fall as well.

      I think it's very difficult to be exactly on the I-don't-know fence. Just admitting that you're agnostic means that you have doubts about the existence of God, which falls short of belief or faith. That's pretty much what agnostic atheism is–we don't know, but the probability of God's existence seems very low, so we believe in gods like we believe in unicorns. We don't know for sure if they exist, but we seriously doubt it.

      The dictionary definitions of words should not be bandied about as if they describe people accurately. I very often see people attempting to tell other people what those other people believe based on the dictionary definition of a word ("you have a certainty that God doesn't exist, because that's the definition of the word 'atheist'"). This is non-sense. If no word is suitable, fine, but don't confuse word definitions with what people actually think.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  8. Bob

    At least some Christians have experiences that they count as evidence of God's existence. Atheists assume that because they haven't been granted such an experience that it does not exist. Pretty narcissistic when you think about it. "I've never seen it, so it doesn't exist" lol

    October 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      I've never seen it so it does exist doesn't hold water.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Rynomite

      So is it narcissistic of me to not believe in unicorns?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      Is it any more narcissistic than claiming that the creator of the universe desires a personal relationship with you?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Bob

      It's actually extremely narcissistic for you to claim to be sure that unicorns do not exist. Do you actually believe a new species or anything has never been discovered? Don't you think that before some species were discovered, there were people like you who claimed such a thing did not exist?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • sam

      Unicorns totally exist. Along with bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. They all hang out together on Wednesdays and talk about how hilarious religion is.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The height of narcissism is the belief that the One True Deity, ruler and shaper of the Universe, made everything just so YOU, one of the predilect objects of Creation, can exist.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jon

      oh Bob, silly silly silly

      October 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • pat

      So most of the children born in North Korea are "narcissistic" since they have never met a Christian?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • pat

      1) All products of my imagination are real.
      2) I am not narcissistic.
      3)you are.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bob

      @pat, your post makes no sense. The children of north Korea who have never met a Christian would only be narcissistic if the were told CHristians exist yet claimed that Christians could not possibly exist based on the fact that they had never seen one. This is exactly the mistake that atheists make when they say it is not possible for God to exist. I'm guessing North Korean children are probably a lot less narcissistic and issue laden than most vocal atheists.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • pat

      "Christians have experiences that they count as evidence of God's existence" So in North Korea there are not too many Christians or bibles. Are they excused from finding God because no one told them to look? That's what I mean.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  9. Lion

    At last the USA are catching up with the rest of Europe on this issue. It's always amazed me how such an incredibly silly and ridiculous idea as an invisible super being up the sky who made everything just for fun managed to last so long. We have science now, we have evidence, fact, reason, logic, research and peer review. We are long, long, long past the need to believe in fairies, pixies, gods, demons, and monsters. If he is so true why has he never shown himself? Oh Yes except once long time ago as a 'burning bush'. Right. This is so true: When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  10. Andrew

    A sign of intelligence over myth.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • karek40

      The end cannot come unless there come a falling away first.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      karek: your god is a punk. thanks for playing

      October 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  11. RMB38

    My wife and I have been atheists for many, many years (we're in our 70's), but came "out of the closet" a long time ago.
    We hold no animosity against religious people, except those who follow an increasingly-popular religion which condones and teaches violence.
    We don't tell others they should be atheists; why do so many insist that we should NOT be atheists?

    October 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bob

      It's because they care about you and realize that you and your wife are reinforcing despair within each other. THey want to help, but probably don't know how to do it in a way that doesn't coercive or offensive.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sam

      Oh, Bob, you silly goose!

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Rynomite

      How exactly are they "reinforcing despair"? Please elaborate.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Maureen

      Wow, Bob- self righteous much? How would you like it if I assessed your life, decided it was lacking in some way, and declared you in need of a complete revamping of your beliefs, way of life, values, etc just because you don't agree with me? How can you not recognize how offensive and demeaning that is? Do you really believe so deeply in your own superiority?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ed

      That's because having greater numbers helps them to validate belief in something that's pretty fanstastical. The only difference between a religion and a cult is numbers.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Bob

      I only believe my own experience. And don't get on me for trying to explain what might be going through the minds of people who are telling this guy to find God. It's just speculation in my part. Maybe his friends are trying to get him to join their church so they will know when they leave the house and can rob him.

      Of course, I believe it's in this guy's best interest to live forever rather than to die for eternity sometime in the nex couple of years. There's nothing self righteous about it. I'm not going to save him. I have no power. THe only one who can save him is God, and it's not going to happen if this guy and his wife keep living a lie, but that's on them to figure out.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • pat

      Bob – maybe rmb38 cares about you as much as you care about them. So what about it? Are you ready to cross over to our side and embrace atheism? We care about what happens to you.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  12. Ben

    You know, the moment individuals and society as a whole no longer need religion or its motivations to better themselves and the world, is the same moment we will be a much better world.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  13. One Nation Under God

    America is a Christian nation with a Judeo-Christian heritage rooted in the principles of Christ. The founding fathers were all Christian (some were deists, but they were all of the Christian family) and it was made very clear from the beginning that this Christian heritage would not be ignored. George Washington used to commence every session of congress with prayer. Now American children are slapped across the wrist if they even dare pray at school. In the great state of Alabama, everyone knows about the dangers of secularism, and November 13, 2003 will never be forgotten – for those of you who don't know, that is the day that the Ten Commandments were removed from the state judicial building. Secularism (a liberal revisionist term that didn't appear until the 1800s) seeks to slowly but surely erode away at Christian heritage, principles and freedoms. Combined with atheism, this is a deadly mix – for America, for the world. Thankfully most people acknowledge that. Hence the reason the burgeoning "atheist movement" (fueled by the media) represents a piddly 1% of the population – and that is a very liberal estimate. In reality, we're looking at a couple hundred thousand irritated souls who rage on the internet, but make very little difference in reality. Some people capitalize on this (e.g. Richard Dawkins), and that's fine – Americans acknowledge such people for the quack jobs they are. And all there is to it folks: quackery. Case closed.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      God foundation of America is denied by hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism called Christianity by hindu Judaism, filthy self center ism, denial of truth absolute, constant GOD by bigamy, infidelity to truth absolute GOD, having nothing to do with America but in hinduism, violation of American values.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Sy2502

      Why are you so much for public prayer? Don't you know what your Jesus said about public prayer? Need me to remind you?

      "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • sam

      America is not a christian nation. I know some folks want it that way, but, too bad. People of every faith (or non faith) live here.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Read the Treaty with Tripoli. "Being this nation is in no way founded on the Christian religion ... etc". Washington's administration wrote it, Adams signed, it, and it passed unanimously. Sorry. Liar.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Lion

      Some people (gullible) never would accept science. Our founding fathers knew about this. That is why the USA *IS* a secular society. It says it right on the great seal, “Novus Ordo Seclorum,“ which is latin for “A new Secular Order. Ninety-three percent of the members of the National Academy of Science proclaim they are atheists. Interesting fact: Fewer than one percent of prisoners on death row are atheists. In other words, we supply a disproportionate amount of intellectuals, scientists and educators to the U.S., while supplying a minuscule number of violent human beings.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      The case is not closed. Science is your deadly enemy. YOU believe in Evolution. YOU believe in Science. You would use DNA if you were in prison to get out. There have always been "free thinkers". You can s*say* "case closed*, (as you are an'al retentive as many religionists are who need things all neat in a little box). The debate is far from over.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • fritz

      I'm 60 and a humanist and agnostic. I always knew we were a tiny minority in a sea of Christiandom. It's gratifying to know our numbers among the young are growing in leaps and bounds. Who know? Maybe someday I'll be able to buy beer in Sunday and the Christians won't have any say in the matter.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jon

      I think I believe that the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation. Imagine a boat of Buddhists landing on the east coast in 1780 and building a town and a temple. Do you think the European Christians would have welcomed them? No, they would have been run off quickly, if not massacred.
      However, today we are much more enlightened and intelligent.....we allow people faiths other than Chrstiananity to live among us and to have the same rights and freedoms as we do.
      I am an evangelical agnostic and will cry out for all to hear!

      October 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • fritz

      So you think Richard Dawkins is a quack job? Go tell that to everyone you know. In fact, tell others he is a total moron. Don't stop there. Tell others Richard Dawkins is a completely idiotic retard. Don't worry about all the puzzled looks and wrinked noses from others. Just keep telling them that! Just make sure before you start ranting about Richard Dawkins that you are a totally believing Christian person. It might help if you tell folks the Earth is only 6,000 years old. And tell them 'evolution' is a fantasy perpetrated by the dastardly evil atheists to fool the public. And don't forget to tell them Adam was made from a lump of dirt and cavorted with dinosaurs. One more thing. Tell them bad things happen to people because god punishes them for their sinning ways. That way, others will understand you better and know where you are coming from. ;op

      October 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • pat

      -Founding Father Alert-

      October 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • jwashfield

      Hey you can believe in myths, legends, tooth fairy, jesus, santa and paul bunyan. But the founding fathers made very plain that this was NOT a christian nation. Saying it is, is revisionist history of the worst sort.

      Religion has NO place in politics, and our country would be better off if people thought of the here and now, rather than some imaginary heaven.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Adrian

      "Secularism (a liberal revisionist term that didn't appear until the 1800s)".

      Really? 1800's? You don't say? The United States were built of ENLIGHTENMENT ideals. They praised: Natural Rights (Life, Liberty, Freedom), Capitalism, Science & Knowledge, and Secularism. They separated the Church from State- and challenged the status quo. They did this because they found the Church's teachings corrupt- which was exploited by Martin Luther's (the one from the Renaissance) writings. Simple. High School. History Class. (That is, if you attended a regular school- not a religious one. They wouldn't teach you that.)

      The Nation was founded of Secular values- something that was unspeakable of the time in most of Europe- and could probably get you killed or jailed by the great Church itself. Its not a surprise that people see history and wonder- how the Church is not corrupted now.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  14. jdoe

    Only one in five? I'd feel better if it were 4 in 5.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  15. The LORD

    A sign that this country is heading in the right direction!

    October 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • freeman

      "Oh, Lord!"

      – a frequently heard sign that this country is going in the wrong direction.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  16. was blind, but now I see

    1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

    2That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of the Lord is at hand.

    3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

    4Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

    5Do you not remember, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

    6And now you know what restrains that he might be revealed in his time.

    7For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now restrains will do so, until he be taken out of the way.

    8And then shall that Wicked One be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

    9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

    10And with all deception of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

    11And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

    12That they all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 KJV

    October 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • The LORD

      You discovered how to copy and paste! Great job!!!
      Now, enough with the fairy tales.....

      October 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      Hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism called Christianity is bigamy, infidelity to truth absolute, constant GOD, no one ever lived by the hindu fabricate name Jesus.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • freeman

      "Holier than thou" people like yourself are the reason for most of the strife and destruction in this world.

      Learn tolerance and respect, or at least learn discretion.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • The darkness

      @was blind
      I find it fascinating that you can see where light has a small chance of getting to, how is your colin anyway?

      October 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      You forgot to tell us why we should accept the words of self admitted liars, and explain the authority of the Bible.

      "For if the truth of God hath more abounded by my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also adjudged a sinner?" – St. Paul, Romans 3.7.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      "I will only mention the Apostle Paul. ... He, then, if anyone, ought to be calumniated; we should speak thus to him: ‘The proofs which you have used against the Jews and against other heretics bear a different meaning in their own contexts to that which they bear in your Epistles.

      We see passages taken captive by your pen and pressed into service to win you a victory, which in volumes from which they are taken have no controversial bearing at all ... the line so often adopted by strong men in controversy – of justifying the means by the result."

      – St. Jerome, Epistle to Pammachus (xlviii, 13; N&PNF. vi, 72-73)

      October 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      "We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity."

      – Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chapter 2.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      "Not all true things are the truth, nor should that truth which merely seems true according to human opinions be preferred to the true truth, that according to the faith."

      – Clement (quoted by M. Smith, Clement of Alexandria, p446)

      October 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      "Do you see the advantage of deceit? ...

      For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind ...

      And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived."

      – Chrysostom, Treatise On The Priesthood, Book 1.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Edward

      'For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them'.
      Organized religion is useless. Follow God on your own terms.
      Don't ever give a person money to preach to you.
      "Forgive us our sins only if we forgive others for sinning against us"

      October 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • fintastic

      "2+2 = chicken"

      Means about as much as your babble quotes....

      October 10, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  17. Matt

    This article isn't surprising. Having faith in something takes work. Believing in God or Allah or Jesus isn't easy. It isn't instant. It isn't always gratifying either. Why would today's younger generations want anything to do with it?
    I see this laziness in my life every day. I want my computer to boot faster. I want 4g speed instead of 3g. I want my satellite dish to pick up perfect reception in a big thunderstorm. I can't stand waiting for anything. I don't want to wait for God, but I do. And you guys shouldn't hold that against me. I don't hold it against you for not waiting. It's my choice to believe. It's your choice not to.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • freeman

      Matt,

      Fair and honest reply. Too bad more 'religious' people aren't like you.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • BOb the Prairie Dog

      Or maybe the younger generation is more in tune to the obvious: "No one knows what happens when we die, and anyone claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money."

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • OOO

      Sounds like hope, not belief.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • BOb the Prairie Dog

      \No one knows what happens when we die, and anyone claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money."

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • jwashfield

      Matt: it has nothing to do with being lazy. It has to do with not seeing a valid reason to have faith. In fact it's insulting you say that. I'd say the laziness comes from the people with "faith" who haven't bothered to think about it, or even read the bible. Best way to make an atheist? Get them to read the bible.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • sam

      Are you that guy who stands in front of the microwave yelling "HURRY UP!" ? lol

      October 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Rynomite

      4g speed eats battery life.

      Just saying!

      October 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Matt

      I am Sam! I am totally that guy. And as for the insult. I used myself as an example hoping to not insult. I do apologize. I can't agree though that reading the Bible makes less for less of a believer or hopeful person.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bob

      It's the "I" generation. ipod, itunes, iphone, it has become acceptable and even positive for people to make everything about themselves and their own personal experience. Everyone is becomning an island unto themselves and, controlling their distance and communication and keeping it shallow, and not actually interacting in meaninful ways with anyone, including God, and certainly not willing to actually work to extend and expose themsevles to others. People are deciding that they want to be their own god instead of looking for and working to find the real one.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Bill

      Lazyness? Is it not lazy to believe that lifes answers have already been prepared and packaged for you and that to recieve your just reward you need only retain what you have been told and seek no further justification? Religious or not, lazyness of ones mind is only the refusal to put your beliefs on the table as subject to change as you learn from new experiences and ideas.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • ThinkRationally

      Matt and Bob, you have created straw man arguments. You say people who do not believe are lazy, unwilling to put the 'effort' required into believing. This is nonsense. This is just an easy accusation that you can use to attack unbelievers. The truth is that belief is not voluntary. I can no more decide to just start believing in God that you can just decide to believe in leprechauns. It just doesn't work that way, and no amount of search-for-God-and-you-will-find-him arguments will change that.

      As for lazy, I could throw your straw man argument back at you. It's easy to believe in something that comforts with simple answers. And where there is clearly no logical answer, there's "God works in mysterious ways." I could say that looking at the cold harsh reality of existence is the challenge. Accepting death as the end is the challenge, as opposed to the comfort of eternal life. Do you see how easy this game is? Facts work better, though.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • fritz

      You have the right idea. We should all be free to believe as we please. Unfortunately, the organized religions have a bad history of forcing their beliefs on others, even under pain of death. Christians can believe in their god, Jews can believe in Yahweh, Muslims can believe in Allah. All we ask is that you leave the rest of us alone to persue our beliefs. You can have your heavenly reward for being a 'true' believer. We don't seek any celestail reward. We choose to live good and righteous lives for righteousness sake alone without any hope of reward while we continue to explore the Cosmos and continue to persue our science to unravel and wrest free the secrets of Nature to better understand the great mystery of existance. Just to be able to decalre that we lived on this world in an eyeblink of time against near impossible odds and that as fallible creatures we did the best we could is reward enough for us.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Bob

      To me, it's more about narcissism and isolation than actual laziness. There are plenty of smart and industriuos atheists and Christians alike out there. We just live in an age where the hootest thing that Madison Vae has to market to us is the lure of a totally self controlled, individualized experience, and they have advertised and promoted this as if it's a positive thing, when it's really just the opposite and leads people to build their own world around them and focus on expressing themselves rather than listening and learning.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • ThinkRationally

      Bob, I realize you have an opinion, but saying it's narcissism and a focus on the self is another straw man. I think many atheists are thinkers, and generally grounded, although I have no stats to back this up. I would say that it's "listening and learning", especially the learning bit, that's pulling people out of the generational belief structure that gets passed down, rather than something atheists are avoiding.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Bob

      My point hinges on my belief and observation that as a culture, we may be becoming more and more casually and superficially social, but in reality, we are being provided more and more products that encourage us to not engage deeply or meaningfully with people and to build our own world around ourselves to suit our current preferences, rather than to live out in the world and be open to the experience of what is has to offer, and as such, we have become more "served", but also more isolated, because let's face it, if everyone can choose what song to put on their ipod at any given moment of the day, very few people will ever put on the same song, and thus, very few people will receive the benefit of shared experience.

      If you do not agree with this general premise, then it makes sense not to agree with the restof what I have to say, but if you do agree with that premise, then you have to decide if the current trend toward atheism is consistent with and sympathetic to that phenomenon, or if it is an exception to the rule, so to speak. In other words, if you believe we live in a world where people are into isolating themselves and crafting their own versions of truth, are atheists "deciding" that God does not exist, or are they among the few people out there experiencing things and basing their belief on their experiences?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • pat

      Then why doesn't god have a web site if he is all powerful? This is a serious question. Has god published anything after the new testiment? Maybe he died.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • fritz

      Excuse me, but you are mistaking 'laziness' for 'impatience'. Laziness is believing what religious folks tell you without question. Or believing what you read in the bible is all fact without verification because religious folks tell you it is. 'Impatience' is the feeling that things aren't happening fast enough for you. The computer you use, the car you drive, the TV you watch, the instant light you get when you flip the switch is the hard work of people who pursued a very difficult form of mental disipline. Science. You can't be lazy and be one of these kinds of people. It requires perserverance and dedication to chase after Nature in pursuit of the truth of reality. Only the religious minded are capable of the kind of laziness you speak of.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • ThinkRationally

      Bob, I won't deny that culture and society is changing. I won't argue whether it's for the best or not. But I would say that if you ask many of the people you are labeling (rightly or wrongly) as narcissistic or self-centered, or isolated whether they believe in God or not, many would say yes or express some degree of spirituality.

      To answer your question, the quest of self-discovery may be a common tie in cultural shift and the "trend" toward atheism, but I don't think it's as simple as lumping it all together and concluding cause and effect.

      I also think this is all irrelevant to the central question of whether there's actually a God or not. Cultural eccentricities aside, belief is not voluntary. You do or you don't, and I don't think it's a matter or just deciding you don't believe in order to free oneself (or whatever straw man reason you want to make up), nor is it a matter of just deciding that you do believe.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  18. Eric

    Listen to your inner self people, you have a longing in your heart to love and give thanks to your creator (God). Be honest with yourself, walk into nature, watch the birds and you can't deny in your heart that God exists. If you don't believe in God you are lying to yourself for your own selfish reasoning and desire to walk independant. For man it is not given to even direct his own step. Seek truth while it may yet be found, for time is running short.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Ricky

      Bunch of bull. People like you are just too afraid to accept the fact that when you die, you rot and there is no afterlife.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • kisumi-africa

      and dont u wonder about the other god who created your god and the othher god who created the god who created your god! get lost now

      October 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • fritz

      Time is running short? That sounds like a threat. My inner self is telling me you are an arrogant self-righteous bozo that needs to shut up and mind your own business.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • jwashfield

      I guess your childhood indoctrination worked. What kind of god would want to be worshipped? Who kills more people in the bible? God kills way more than satan ever does. Why do humans on earth have a better moral code than god? If people break laws, even heinously, we don't torture them FOREVER in a burning pit of fire. But somehow that's ok if your god does it?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  19. Atheist Hunter

    Attention all atheists. Read this it is awesome!
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/10/07/proof-of-heaven-a-doctor-s-experience-with-the-afterlife.html

    October 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • freeman

      Sorry, I don't believe anything in "The Daily Beast" either.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  20. Richard

    The only reason that people say that they believe in god is because when they were asked that when they were 3 years old and said "yes" they got smiles and candy. As adults, they know that if they don't answer "yes" they might get assaulted or lose business or job opportunities from the other children of the corn who are themeselves afraid of not voiceing their true beliefs.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • OOO

      Very good point. Just asking a question like this really only measures the comfort one has in supplying their true beliefs. To get a more accurate result you would have to dig much deeper and spend a lot more time.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • karek40

      I have a masters degree in engineering, was raised in a home where neither parent went to church (nor did I) and am 72 years old. One absolute thing science/engineering has taught me is; you can't get something from nothing. The energy to create the mass for the big bang came from somewhere and something concentrated that energy. There is a God not because of a candy bar but because you can't get something from nothing. There were enough eye witnesses to Jesus's resurection that you can't call it a myth or a fabrication. Note if this were not so some of the literature of that time would so state, it does not.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • freeman

      If you are an atheist, you are not treated the same way as others, and – as you've suggested – may lose business or job opportunities. Even those who are not active in any church tend to take their own religion as an article of faith, and take anyone's lack of faith as being a challenge to their views. Depending upon how strongly they feel challenged by someone who doesn't believe as they do, more than a few take exception and will not treat a non-believer as fairly as they would a believer. This is just human nature, I suppose, but it still can impose a hardship on non-believers.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      That's awesome that you are able to understand everybody's beliefs so well. To bad your assessment ddoesn't hold true for me. You see, I was one of those who was indoctrinated as a child. When, I became an adult, I ceased and desisted for approxiamtely 20 years. Then, God, Himself, grabbed a hold of me, and my life has been forever changed. So, before very careful using statements such as "all, always, every, etc..."

      October 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Something changed. God had nothing to do with it.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      People change their opinions all the time.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • ThinkRationally

      karek40, look up quantum fluctuation.

      As for the resurrection of Jesus, are you saying that if it hadn't happened that the literature of the time would confirm that it hadn't happened? I can make up anything not denied by today's literature and expect that future generations will therefore have to conclude that it's true? I must have misunderstood you.

      Also, stories grow. They get embellished. People add a little flourish here or there and before you know it it's not the same story at all. As for eye witnesses, most people can't even decide what happened at Roswell a mere 65 years ago, or any number of other incidents in recent times, let alone 2000 years ago.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • fritz

      Hey! I like that! Well said. In science circles we call this 'psychological conditioning' of the young. These pain and reward tactics perpetrated on the young by religious folks to get them to believe are basically the same way you train a dog.

      October 9, 2012 at 2:28 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.