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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. Atheist Hunter

    Google pics of Syria's victims. That is your reality and future here in America in a few years. Life without God.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • kme

      As opposed to the Middle East WITH God?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      I almost hate to indulge your stupidity with a response.... but are you seriously that big of a moron? You are clearly uneducated and severely misinformed. Please go get an education.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      You can google horrific pictures anywhere, including in the US, and if it proves anything it proves there is no god present in this world.

      My invisible pink unicorn is praying for you.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Not talking about false gods. I'm talking about life without the ONLY REAL GOD! THE TRUE GOD OF THE BIBLE!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Wow. Athest Hunter went from a guy at least trying to hide his crazy a few months ago to a full blown ridiculous religious zealot troll.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      MagicPanties...........yes we truly live in america like they live today in syria. REALLY? I'm not talking about a few random pictures, I'm talking about thousands dead in a matter of months from being slaughtered in the streets by godless tyrants! Get your panties out your crack and wake up!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • derp

      I am curious how pictures of atrocities in Syria, a devoutly religious country, would make a case for what happens in a country devoid of god.

      Or are you just stupid?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      @derp – yes, he is just stoopid

      October 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • kme

      "Not talking about false gods..."

      As opposed to thousands of "false gods" that have drawn the love of millions over the centuries?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • GAW

      you might want to take a little time to do some research before you post anything.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • ViK100

      Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

      It is an error to say that God never supports a war. Jesus is not a pacifist. In a world filled with evil people, sometimes war is necessary to prevent even greater evil. If Hitler had not been defeated by World War II, how many more millions would have been killed? If the American Civil War had not been fought, how much longer would African-Americans have had to suffer as slaves?

      War is a terrible thing. Some wars are more “just” than others, but war is always the result of sin (Romans 3:10-18). At the same time, Ecclesiastes 3:8 declares, “There is…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” In a world filled with sin, hatred, and evil (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Christians should not desire war, but neither are Christians to oppose the government God has placed in authority over them (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:17). The most important thing we can be doing in a time of war is to be praying for godly wisdom for our leaders, praying for the safety of our military, praying for quick resolution to conflicts, and praying for a minimum of casualties among civilians on both sides (Philippians 4:6-7).

      October 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Jesus is coming. The Loving God is going to rip you apart. He's going to drink your blood and fry your flesh on a stick.

      October 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  2. the AnViL

    i think it's OK for people to believe in any delusion they choose. they are free to believe in imaginary men in the sky or even flying spaghetti... it's all cool.

    but they should not be allowed to vote, hold public office, purchase handguns or teach public school.

    let the mentally insane worship whatever gods they can imagine – but don't tolerate it publicly.

    these people who cling to religion are far too ignorant to even know that they're mentally ill – and until we forcefully push them back into darkened closets, they should be made to feel ashamed for retarding humanity and kept at arms length where they can do the least harm.

    religion impoverishes all of mankind and there's absolutely no room for it in the future.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • GAW

      Well if that's the case so much for freedom of speech.

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

      .....and bring on the censorship. btw Thank you for being and splendid example of an extremiss. Your post came pretty close to declaring a major jihad against all religions.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • the AnViL

      oh now – don't get carried away – the mentally ill who cling to imaginary men in the sky are still free to voice their nutbag opinions – no one wants to squelch their freedom of speech.

      but they shouldn't be allowed to be a part of any decision making process for the public, they shouldn't be allowed to own firearms and they definitely should not be allowed to teach public school.

      mental illness isn't a gift, it's not a talent – and NO religions are above ridicule, parody and contempt.

      humanity is growing up.. time to bring the weak minded along with us... forcefully if need be.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • gsnlou

      Did you call the plan for God's chosen people as the Jewish Solution? Do you plan to set your own law and settle disputes by blood sports? I am really curious.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • the AnViL

      a jihad??? lol – get real... there IS a war going on – and it's being waged by the enemies of reason -

      check out Georgia Rep. Paul Broun "God’s word is true," Broun said, according to a video posted on the church’s website. "I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior." lol – that's not all – Broun also said that he believes the Earth is about 9,000 years old and that it was made in six days. Those beliefs are held by fundamentalist Christians who believe the creation accounts in the Bible to be literally true.

      the funny part in this story????

      He sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

      enough is enough.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • GAW

      No You were the one who got carried away. I just called you on it.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • the AnViL

      gsnlou: i realize this may come as a blow – but.... there's no gods.

      also – there's no santa claus... no easter bunny – and no tooth fairy.

      sorry to break it to ya like that champ... i know it stings – but when you grow up and put on your big boy pants.... your tears will dry up and you'll get on with life.

      good luck, sport!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • GAW

      And your rhetoric and tone sounds like the type from a Fundamentalist Christian.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  3. Matthew 19:21

    Perhaps because there could never be anything more arrogant than claiming that you know what God wants and it's your job to tell other people what God wants?

    October 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  4. Peter

    No shortage of comments on this one

    October 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  5. Atheist Hunter

    The day is fast approaching when all you atheists will recall every stupid comment that you made on this blog and plead with God to forgive you and it will be too late. You will wish you could erase them from your mind but they will be seared there for all eternity. SAD!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      Ok. Thanks.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Thank you for reminding us how loving and merciful your god is.
      If we don't love him back he will torture us horribly for eternity.

      Wow, what's not to like?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam

      I kind of feel like that every time I see you post...

      October 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Madtown

      What's interesting about your comment, is that most people here are only expressing opinions that they've reached by using the critical thinking and evaluation skills of the mind that God gave them! If God gave you the gift of a functional mind and intellect, would you really be punished for using it?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      LOL .. the old standard "Believe or burn in HELL!!" argument.
      If by some astronomical absurdity there actually is a God(s), then I will give God(s) more credit for understanding his creation than to burn us for not "knowing" better.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Wow, what a loving god you describe.

      That sounds more like a mob boss that demands respect or he will hurt me. I would never respect an enti.ty like the one you believe in...and I would certainly not worship something based on the fear it would torture me.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • derp

      Oooohhhh boogity boogity boogity!

      The big scary rapture is coming soon.

      Better start praying for the magic sky wizard to forgive your sins.

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

      Why do you Christians consistently threaten those who don't believe the way you do with eternal damnation? It's rather annoying.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • kme

      You do realize the threat of damnation by your personal deity makes no sense for a non-believer, right?

      If I told you you that at death would be taken away on a space ship that's hidden behind a comet, you would have no fear of this happening because you don't believe what the Heaven's Gate folks do.

      I am as utterly un-fearful of your god's judgement as you are of the ship waiting behind the comet. Once you understand that, you will (hopefully) stop with the ridiculous fear-mongering.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • One one

      I am pretty sure that when a person dies and stands at the gates of St. Peter, God checks all the social media content they have ever posted before deciding to let them into heaven or not.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • GAW

      Don't feed the trolls!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  6. Jon

    Yay!!! Let common sense and plausibility prevail!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      EVERY ONE IS BLESSED WITH SENSES BUT DO NOT EXPECT SOME THING SENSE ABLE FROM A HINDU, INSANE.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  7. Louie

    Goodbye, organized religion. Don't come back.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  8. craig crawford

    one thing is for sure. the majority of the post here indicate that CNN is where atheist go for news.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nah we just come here to pick up chubby fundie chicks.

      We love it when they call us Jesus!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      We go everywhere for our news .. we seek to know only the truth.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  9. truMind

    this has been happening in Europe for years. People are growing up as a race

    October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  10. SPRINGSGRANNY

    I feel compassion for those who don't believe in a higher being. For myself, I believe in prayer and just the thought of having someone to lean on in times of trouble is very comforting. I do go to church every Sunday and feel so much better when I leave with a message to be a better person and serve others. I don't know about all of you non believers, but my faith is what helped me through the loss of a child, parents and a husband. I don't like what my country is becoming... and I think a part of it is because the 40ish generation has not instilled the importance of a belief in God. I know all religions aren't the same and some in the Bible Belt, some Muslims and even some Catholics do not have the best role models. If you examine the worst parts of religion, you will find that they are only beliefs of a particular group or groups. God's word is only good, not condemning, not punishing, not rightous. You can believe as you wish, but I just hope you can be the best person you can be.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Nope

      Your "God" allowed for the loss of your husband, parents and child. Where was "He" when these atrocious things happened to you? I guess he was too busy whispering to the Republican Party leaders.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • derp

      You do realize that entire basis of christianity is the accepted fact that christians will NOT behave normally.

      That is why the infidelity, divorce, teen pregnancy, crime and drug use rates are lower in atheists.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • gsnlou

      Thank you for your words. I can believe that it means alot to you. God comforts us so that we can comfort others.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Maxi

      Do you care whether or not your beliefs are true or only that they bring you comfort?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • One one

      "God's word is only good, not condemning, not punishing, not rightous."

      I don't understand how you could read a bible and come to that conclusion. It is full of repulsive content.

      You must have found a way to dismiss the bad stuff and imagine the rest as a happy story.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Shaggy

      Lies can be very comforting. That doesn't make them true, and it doesn't make it right for someone to tell them to you, and then ask you for money.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  11. The Myth

    The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all....

    That's NOT a religion, that's a CULT.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Amniculi

      There's a neat book that tells you what words mean. It's called a dictionary. You should check one out.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Please look up each word you try and use, so you don't hurt yourself any further

      October 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • David Stone

      What you said makes no logical sense. Please, seek an education.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • The Myth

      I was being facetious....geez, the CNN fools around here....

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  12. Guitar Man

    Try any number of the proofs by Aquinas. Here's one, again simply put: Nothing can come into being on it's own. Everything must have a cause. The computer I'm typing on did not suddenly pop into existence. The car I drive had to be made by something else. The apple I eat grew from something else. In fact, my and your very existence was caused by something else– the union of our biological parents. If we keep following this argument as deep and as far as possible, we eventually arrive at the question of "Well, what about 'matter" itself. How did "matter" come into existence?" Matter could not have caused itself to come into being (because we've proved nothing in existence can cause itself to be created out of nothing. Something had to cause matter to be created out of non-matter (i.e. nothing). That something is "God".

    Thank you. You may sit down now.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Amniculi

      What created God?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • The Myth

      "When you're dead, you'll have your answer." (Referring to the question of life after death for those who are ignorant.)

      YOU may sit down now too.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Nope

      Not buying it.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Guitar Man

      You see, at some point you must arrive at a being that is "uncreated". That being is God.

      Thanks for playing....

      October 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • KRHODES

      What makes you think God is a created being? And do we have to have an explanation for everything before we consider it true?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • karl

      your an idiot.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Joe

      God by definition is self-existing. He exists by himself. His existence is not dependent on anything. Therefore nothing created God.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      Beyond human capacity, One dependent on constant does not have intelligence to figure out his creator. THE CONSTANT GOD.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      REALLY ?? THAT IS YOUR ARGUMENT??!!??
      OK .. well what caused "God" ?
      Thankyou you may sit down

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • sam

      So guitar man – where is your maker's mark?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • One one

      Of course !!! The universe came into existence by magic from a man who sits on a throne and lives in the sky.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • David Stone

      Ignorant people have always used an invisible spirit to explain what they do not understand. Who are YOU to say something has to have a beginning?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Lousy Bread Song, lousy argument

      Everything that is always has been.

      It just changes form.

      Got it?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • T-Max73

      Guitar Man- My best response to your irrationality is an appropriate quote by the late Christopher Hitchens:

      "I'm sorry, but you strike me as someone who has never read any of the arguments against his own position–ever."

      October 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • derp

      "Nothing can come into being on it's own"

      "You see, at some point you must arrive at a being that is "uncreated". That being is God"

      Bwahhaaaa!! You silly fundies can't even agree with each other.

      Why doesn't magical mystery boy just open up the sky and answer the darn question himself?

      Of that's right, he doesn't exist.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Guitar Man

      woo-hoo! the name calling and insults are being hurled my way! I love it!

      So then, for those who think Aquinas' arguments aren't valid. What are the proofs against it? If you can show me an instance of when Matter was created out of nothing, I'll be much impressed. Help me understand.

      And for you who quoted Hitchens, please point to a proof that counters Aquinas.

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

      As a creature controlled by time, we often define our creation as the first perception of time. How we can assume, much less be certain, that something can be create OUTSIDE of the time-dimension when there is no perception of time?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Joe sez:
      "God by definition is self-existing. He exists by himself. His existence is not dependent on anything. Therefore nothing created God."

      Yea YOUR arbitrary, convenient "religious" definition maybe.
      circular reasoning too

      October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Shaggy

      Ahh, the tautology of ignorance, yet again!

      A being true implies something I don't understand, therefore A must be untrue and God exists.

      You know, instead of jumping to something you don't understand implying that God exists, you could actually learn about the explanation and improve yourself. Or you could shut your brain down, fall back on God to explain everything even a bit complex, and live in ignorance forever. This is why religion is dangerous and holding us back.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  13. hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

    Guy is from period of questioning in Christianity, but did not have access to today's science to answer question's raised. He did, what made sense to him.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  14. Alger Dave

    Too bad for the atheists that even atheism is a religion. We all believe in something, even if we don't believe in God, Allah, or some other deity. And each of our belief systems has a set of foundational truths – for instance an atheist would 'believe' that there is no God. That's believing in something – the lack of existence of a greater force in the universe. And their belief system would grow from there.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Forrest

      *Yawn*

      October 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Yup

      And baldness is a hair color.

      SImple runs in your family?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • hINDUISM RACISM OF hINDU'S, CRIMINALS BY FAITH EXPOSED

      atheism is nothing more than hindu filthy self center ism, denial of truth absolute GOD, borrowed not from human but in following of animals.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • karl

      Your thought process is flawed. It is the absence of religion. My belief structure is based upon inteligence as should yours be.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Chat Pata

      Haha. Stupid Christian logic that "Not believing in something is belief ... the belief in nothing". Let us continue this stupidity. "Not doing something is an act ... the act of not doing anything". "The absence of something is a presence ... the presence of nothing". "Darkness is a light ... the light of darkness". Finally my favorite "No-God is the name of a god".

      October 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • GHale

      This old saw again? No, if I may relieve you of your pitiable ignorance, atheists do not 'believe' anything. I do not actively believe that there are no gods. I lack a belief in any gods. There's a difference, a critical one at that. One would not say, for instance, that someone 'believes' there are no leprechauns. One would not say that someone 'believes' there are no unicorns. It is absurd, therefore, to say that someone 'believes' there are no gods.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Chat Pata

      @William Demuth: Ah. I should have thought about it. "Baldness is a condition of hair ... its absence".

      October 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Dave

      The word atheist exactly means not a theist so yes you are correct in stating they believe something, just not IN something. An atheist believes god does not exist and therefore actually isn't even considered so in that sense there is nothing to believe.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • cybercmdr

      Yup. I believe that if I step off a 50 story building, I'll fall. I believe that the Earth orbits the Sun. These beliefs are backed up with facts that can be verified. Religion by definition is not backed up by facts; you must believe in your religion despite the absence of facts. That is called faith.
      Atheists consider the absence of any facts to support religion to be a fatal flaw, making it inseparable from belief in UFOs, Bigfoot or leprechauns. You don't believe in the 10,000+ other deities that man has worshiped through history. Our list of gods we don't believe in is just one god longer than yours.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • gsnlou

      I believe in the seal that guarantees the yoplait that I bought is fresh even though I did not pack them myself, I believe in the red light would make someone slow down and stop for your green light even though I could not make the other car brake, I believe that the airbag would deploy in the matter of subseconds even though I am not a mechanical engineer, I believe in airplane can fly but I am not an aerodynamic engineer. I believe in mathematic to extrapolate the creation og the universe 17billion years ago even though I was never there to witness them myself. I also believe in one true God even though my eyes have never seen Him before.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • derp

      "I also believe in one true God even though my eyes have never seen Him before"

      I believe in pixie dust even though none has ever been sprinkled it on me, I believe in sasquatch even though I have only seen bad grainy video of him, I believe in Harry Potter even though I have only read about him in books, I believe in Minotaurs even I have only read about them, I believe in the loch ness monster even though I have only seen bad photos of him, I believe in magic flying eight legged horned Dalmatians, even though I'm the only one whose ever thought of such a stupid idea.

      See, it's easy. Saying you believe in made up things can look pretty stupid from the atheists side of the fence. Just because you believe it doesn't make it real.

      Here is a simple test.

      Jump of a 50 story building. A) with a parachute...and B) with god.

      You can pray to your all powerful obviously existing god that you have never seen to keep you from splatting on the ground.

      Or you can open the parachute.

      You have no proof that a parachute will save you, but you are certain of your god.

      I'd bank on the parachute.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  15. ViK100

    Our Catholic congregation has gone from 3,000 3 years ago to 5,000 recently..So, We are well and alive! Thanks for asking CNN!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • karl

      Doubtful

      October 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Cult recruiting is good?

      Or do you just have third world migrants signing up?

      Better change the host over to nacho cheese flavor, or you might lose them.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      And yet nationally the Catholic church is losing membership as well as the number of priests.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Will

      There's a reason Catholics are against birth control... keeps the congregation population up.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Chat Pata

      @William Demuth: You are kind of right. Catholic Church is a business. In Canada I met a lot of Polish people who said they converted to Catholicism so that the church can get them migrated to Canada. When I asked what if it gets rejected? They said, they would claim they are Jewish because 1/16th of them is Jewish, and migrate to Israel, get English and I.T. education by enlisting in Israeli army, and then migrate to the USA.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bob

      My Catholic church is growing rather quickly as well, but I figure maybe tha's because I'm in the South and it's a product of Northerners immigrating. I think the best thing for the Catholic church would be to get a lot smaller though, so we can get rid of all the people who are not really devout, and there is some evidence that thatmay eventually happen.

      EIther way, I've got 5 kids who will all most likely be Catholic for life, and the atheists aren't real virile, so it's all good for the long term.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • derp

      "Our Catholic congregation has gone from 3,000 3 years ago to 5,000 recently..So, We are well and alive!"

      What is the tally of young bots who have been banged.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Ed

      That happened to a Catholic church here too, but mostly because they gained congragents from 3 other churches that went broke and had to close.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  16. Planes Walker

    I must admit, I find it a little strange to be defending religion, being that I am in fact an atheist. But just because I do not believe something in fact exists does not mean that the beliefs of others, however incorrect I might find them to be, are not worthy of my respect. This is the essence of religious tolerance.

    The fact that some who claim to be religious have exploited the faithful and behaved immorally does not indict religion as a whole; it indicts those immoral individuals. I personally know many outstanding individuals who are deeply religious and who dedicate their lives to helping others and making the world a better place. If I believed in God, I would thank God for people like them!

    October 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Planes,

      So only a positive interpretation of religion is a "true" interpretation? How do you know only a "good" interpretation is correct, what is your evidence for that assertion?

      The very foundation of Christianity is original sin, and original sin is in tself an immoral teaching. It IS the religion that is immoral.

      Exactly what kind of atheist are you?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Planes Walker

      You Wrote: " But just because I do not believe something in fact exists does not mean that the beliefs of others, however incorrect I might find them to be, are not worthy of my respect. This is the essence of religious tolerance. " 8O

      I whole-heartedly disagree with you. Beliefs of others don't just get a free pass of "respect" just because they are someone's beliefs or religious beliefs. From someone's beliefs, and the strength of those beliefs, leads people to their *actions.* There are 'many' religious beliefs that I have absolutely -0- respect for as it leads to certain actions that are without question detrimental to society. Without droning on into a long lengthy list, it's not hard to think of many examples.

      What I do have is respect for the 1st amendment, and someone's *right* to their free thought, however... but their thoughts and beliefs are not 'automatically' worthy of our respect. It depends on what those beliefs are... and... what actions/results they lead to.

      But... to believe that everyone's beliefs are *worthy of respect*... just because... can be down-right dangerous.

      Peace...

      October 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      @peace:

      I see your point. I needed to have clarified that I was intentionally being very specific in my argument. I was referring to the correctness (vis-a-vis, with how it compares in its truth to my own belief). I assumed that others would think my disrespect for immoral acts made in the name of one's belief, or immorality of the belief itself, would be a forgone conclusion.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Planes Walker

      Good... thank you for coming back to clarify your original posting.

      Peace...

      October 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Planes,

      There are certainly many, many religious people that are moral despite what is actally written in their holy books. I do respect people like that, but I respect them for their actions not their belief.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  17. William Demuth

    I wish I had something better to do than post my tripe all day long.
    I wish I had a purpose. I wish...

    October 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Ah, an honorable Christian stealing names!

      Unless I am your father?

      Whats that, I might be?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Awww man.... I'm so boring I have to talk to myself. I don't find myself interesting. Now what?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You're your own father?
      All Hail William, the New Messiah!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Praise Him!
      With cash!
      Small denominations, unmarked bills only.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I officially apoint Doc as Pope

      (and goalie on the Heaven's Gate Hockey Team, cause we need an Iceback for flavor!)

      October 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Sweet.
      I'm going to have the biggest, most gilded hat a shaman has ever worn.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  18. Forrest

    Jesus loves you so much that he will send you to be eternally tortured in hell if you don't show him some respect.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • ViK100

      That's the problem with people like you. You don't understand.. Jesus will not send you. You will send yourself. Get it??

      October 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Wrong, Jesus shows you the pathway to escape the road to hell that you chose to stay on. You're the one who doesn't want to escape.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Guitar Man

      Um, Jesus doesn't send us to Hell. We are given what we choose. It's that old pesky "free-will" thing again. And to quote one of the greatest Rock bands of all time, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • J. Davis in Knoxville, TN

      Your comments about being tortured in hell are directly related to the decline of religion discussed in this article. I can't see a loving God sending anyone, even Hitler, to eternal damnation. I am a strong believer in purgatory and I think God is good enough to offer anyone a second chance. I think some self-righteous person back in the Biblical days just came up with the concept of hell to control people and scare them. The religious right still uses fear to impose their beliefs on other people–and I most of all would like to see the return of real separation of church and state. Everyone should be able to make their personal decision on who to vote for and not be told by some fundamentalist preacher to vote for Romney.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You must understand that Stalin doesn't WANT to send you to the Gulag.
      All he wants is to create a worker's paradise for all people!
      By rejecting his word, you send yourself to the Gulag.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Forrest

      If Jesus is all-powerful, and he is allowing people to go to hell, it is no different than him sending them there himself.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • fleece

      @Doc Vestibule, But Stalin was an atheist, so your reasoning is flawed.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • sam

      So, essentially, we're all hellbound from the start unless we say magic words that will make Jesus come live in our hearts, which causes him to put us on the 'ok' list.

      Pretty harsh fear-based belief system.

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

      Don't forget about free will. See God gives you the choice to love and worship him or suffer eternally. No pressure, see? You're totally free. No coercion by God. He's above all that. Just choose freely. An eternity of servitude or an eternity of pain. Go
      ahead. You're perfectly free. Like I told my wife, fix dinner or get a black eye. You decide. Free will.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • SpotOn

      Thank the Great Spaghetti Monster that I don't believe in Hell or Jesus.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The analogy stands.
      Stalin threatened people with torture for rejecting his promise of paradise.
      Whether that paradise is Earthly or posthumous is of little concern – the threat is the same.
      But if you insist:

      Ma'at doesn't WANT to send you to the underworld.
      All Ma'at wants is to send you to eternal bliss.
      It isn't Her fault that your heart is heavier than a Shu feather.

      Odin wants everyone to go to Valhalla!
      It isn't Odin't fault that you ignored His command to die gloriously in battle.

      J.R. "Bob" Dobbs wants nothing more than to give everyone a spot on the Escape Vessel of the Se/x Goddesses come X-Day. By not giving The Church of the Subgenius $30, you have condemned yourself to suffer the Rupture.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • derp

      "God gives you the choice to love and worship him or suffer eternally"

      I sure am glad I am an atheist, because your god sounds like a total dick.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • MM

      "@Doc Vestibule, But Stalin was an atheist, so your reasoning is flawed."

      You seriously aren't this dense, are you?

      October 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  19. Mikie D from Green Bay WI

    I was raised a Catholic and also visited many other churches and services over the years. I've come to believe that we need to treat others well - for no other reason than that's how they and I deserve to be treated. Humanists have the saying "Be good for GOODNESS sake!" And that is what I've some to believe. I need to treat all people no matter their belief in a good and fair way. And I have the right to expect the same. I don't need fear to drive me to do good things. I don't need anyone in Rome or any other place to threaten my 'eternal existance' with threats. I will treat others well - and I expect the same. I won't kill others, harm others, or take things from them that belong to them. The rule of law and civility guides me in making what I think are decent choices. As a Humanist, I can make those decisions without the promise of a reward or punishment.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      Well said, Mikie D!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • fritz

      Wonderful! I couldn't have said that better. It's always good to find another like minded person. I too am a Humanist. Been one since I wa 13. That's when I discovered there was a word to describe what we are and what we believe. Well done!

      October 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Chat Pata

      I was born Hindu, raised Christian, and chose to be atheist. I am suspected of being a Muslim just because I refuse to join the overcrowded band wagon against them. I would rather punch the guy standing on my face, than join the gang that is kicking a fallen guy.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  20. glogg

    I hope this trend continues. I have no problem with people practicing their personal faith in their own home or place of worship. What gives me the red butt is when religious groups attempt to legislate their morality on the rest of us; when they try to hijack public venues as places to display their religious relics; when they scream about their rights being trampled upon when non-religious folk want to put a stop to their bullying shennanigans. Your right to religion ends at the tip of your nose; right where the rest of society's rights begin.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So the blowing up of buildings, the shooting of children and the gassing of old ladies is ok with you?

      October 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • glogg

      William – I don't really get the connection you're trying to make, other than to ask: What's the difference between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Christian Church here in the US? Answer: not much. Many "christians" have voiced their support for putting GLBT Americans in concentration camps with electrified fences, many have voice their desire to execute people who are different from them. Their disdain for women is also a stark commonality.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Exactly.

      I just hate those who have a passive touch.

      These people will kill you given a chance. Pleasent discourse can get you dead.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
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About this blog

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.