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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. jaxr127

    People are manipulating the survey so much

    October 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Do go on. Your "stuff is there" post doesn't really say much.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  2. David Stone

    Religion....the single biggest remaining stumbling block to human progress.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  3. NorthVanCan

    by by religion

    October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  4. jaxr127

    My Father is part of the 20% but he is not an atheist or agnostic, but he also isn't Catholic anymore. He believes that Jesus Christ died for his sins. Atheists should stop acting like the survey showed that 20% of the country does not believe.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • David Stone

      I have NO doubt that AT LEAST 20% have (at least in their heart) come to the conclusion that there are no invisible sky fairies. Yet many are still reluctant to tell people.

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

      uh, that's _exactly_ what the survey showed

      BTW, if your father is truly as you describe then he is indeed "religious", he just doesn't go to church.

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

      Atheists aren't pretending anything. We're relying on facts. However, if your father believes in Christ, then he would be a christian, and he shouldn't have identified as None.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • NoTheism

      nobody said that

      October 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • jaxr127

      @David where is your proof? That's something you just believe. The stat said that of the 20%, about two thirds of them still believe in God

      October 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      But just as you Claim that many of the 20% actually follow some belief in a god, I claim that a percentage of those in the 80% who go to church and claim a religion actually, deep inside, do not believe in a god. I know of at least a dozen current pastors who have lost their belief in god, but still preach each Sunday for various reasons.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • jaxr127

      @magic that's not what the survey showed. And all the survey said was the decline of people identifying themselves with organized religion

      October 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • jaxr127

      I didnt claim anything.. That is what the Pew poll said. I was going off the statistic. You are simply claiming

      October 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @David and Magic,

      @jaxr127 is correct. "Unaffilliated" in Pew-speak ≠ Atheist + Agnostic.

      Atheists + Agnostic form 5.5% of Americans. They are part of the 19.6% of Americans who do not belong to any particular religious group (that is the "unaffilliated").

      Think about all those "spiritual but not religious" who still believe in some kind of God. They are in the 19.6% too.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @thecollegeadmissionsguru

      your point is moot. People in pews who show up for the eatin' meetin' afterwards but don't believe in God still count as religious in this context. This is one of the issues with self-identification.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @GOP'er, I agree I was only attempting to show how another's point of view was also invalidated by the same claim, for the purpose of this poll, obviously. The fact remains that many church goers are NOT religious, I know because I went to church for years to make my family happy, but NEVER once bought into the whole sky daddy claim. But, I do get your point, thanks

      October 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  5. Kate

    People are more educated these days. They have learned to think for themselves, and they are no longer seeing logic in what they've been taught about the bible and religion. Religious people may find this threatening, but it actually means that many of us are giving religion some careful thought instead of just blindly following what we've been told. Many of us, who were formerly religious, have left the church because we've 'grown' away from it or evolved. How many people just stay in their religion because it's easier to go through the rituals without any thought?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'd be extremely interested in those numbers!

      October 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • mama kindless

      That's a good point, Kate. I get the same feeling from talking to others and from what I have read.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Will

      I sincerely hope you are correct. I would much more respect someone who came to believe in god through personal experience and insight, rather than someone who just blindly believes because that's what their parents believed or they are too simple-minded to think for themselves.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • DeusEtPatria

      I am honestly confused... I am a Christian, and can't figure out what is so irrational and illogical about religion? Can someone please explain?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Deus – where to begin. First, if you believe that the earth is only six thousand years old, that right there is an irrational claim, given the knowledge we possess today in science. Further, it has been proven, even by a Christian study, that prayer does not work, it simply does not move the needle one way or the other, therefore, again, irrational. The list can go on and on, if you want.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Deus: are you a troll? You sound trollish.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      DeusEtPatria

      What about the Dark Ages? Was it the atheists who kept science and books alive? No, it was the monks! What about the printing press? Same story, Made by "religious people" for religious purposes (printing manuscripts, etc).

      This previous post is a prime example of creative history done by Christians. Yes, the monks kept books "alive" as it were, and why, because they were the ONLY people allowed to learn to read and write. That was for a reason, as Martin Luther once wrote, "An educated populace is the greatest threat to Christianity known to man." Those same monks and religious leaders during the Dark Ages also kept many of the enlightened men of the day from working on science and medical research that would have helped mankind so much. Religion has served to hold back man's progress more than advance it, by far.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  6. jaxr127

    The statistics show that the majority of the "unaffiliated", still believe in God. Why did this become an atheist vs. theist blog fight?

    October 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @jaxr127,

      because it always does, no matter what the topic.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Clinton

      I would say because it's in Human nature to argue about what they believe. Atheists whether they like being described this way or not are a religion, not in an association sort of way but in a set of beliefs... They therefor like any other person wants others to believe and think the way they do, they blame everybody that doesn't believe what they do for all the problems in the world and essentially become what they describe hating. It's a story as old as time.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Clinton, it is not that we don't like to be described as having a religion, it is that by its very nature, Atheism is NOT a religion; it is A-Theistic, meaning that we do not believe in any gods. I have heard EVERY argument that Christians throw at us about atheist being religious and NOTHING sticks, but if it makes Christians feel better, then I say go for it.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Also @Clinton and others who claim that Atheists are angry and Christians seek only peace and love. I live in Maine, and this election cycle we may become the first state in the nation to vote FOR same s ex marriage. That, alone, has been one of the most divisive discussions this country has seen in many years, and for what, so that the Christians Right can maintain a definition of a word. You should hear the vitriole that comes from the Religious who are against this initiative.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • jungleboo

      No. Clinton, you continue to miss the point, but perhaps that pleases you to continually miss the point during discussion. We are asking that you adhere to the scientific method. That's all. The scientific method makes it possible for you to type on your keyboard, to drive to work, to visit with your doctor, to eat foods grown in foreign lands, to dress warmly while in cold climates. How could you possibly ignore the scientific method when discussing the ultimate subject, your knowledge of a Supreme Being who guides ever cell in your body and looks out for your welfare on a daily , (until something bad happens, and then you just pray it away without your aforementioned understanding of his benign interference in your life. Shouldn't you, by your "reasoning", be living in a straw hut somewhere, eating fish you caught with your hands?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • David Stone

      Source?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Clinton

      Collegeadmissions – Sorry to put the label on you, but that wasn't even the most important part of my argument, whatever you wish to be called is not the point... you are a "group" of folks that happen to believe there is no God. My argument is the same, folks who are Atheist like any other person want others to believe the way they do. It's built in, it's hard wired and there is no difference between how an Atheist is wired and how a Christian is wired... You have what is known as human nature and it is human nature to want to be right, to want others to believe how you do and think how you do because there is an innate superiority complex that simply is prevelent in all of us. This is why no matter whether there are religions or no religions there will always be people fighting and people killing for whatever ideology they believe in. The only change in society over the last 100 years in my belief is communication and the technology that has brought the world closer and allowed us to talk rather than fight every time we disagree... you look at the parts of the world where discussion is not allowed or technology doesn't exist to bridge the differences and that's where you find open warfare...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Clinton, again I disagree... I have NEVER once said that I want others to NOT believe in their god or give up their religion. I am quite content that both of my sons are religious, that many people I call friend are religious as well. We do have some interesting debates, but that's all it is, a debate on issues that we seek to either prove or disprove. I am NOT part of a group of atheist who have a doc trine or a church or a single book such as the bible.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Dr. Meat

      @Clinton .... Atheism is a religion like not playing golf is a sport.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      atheism is more of a philosophy than a religion

      atheists do not have churches

      atheism is not top down

      October 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  7. why be an atheist when you can have a king - a king that's higher than jesus!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8&w=640&h=390]

    October 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Rob Johnson

    Maybe there is hope for America after all.

    Being spiritual and having an interest in the big questions like "What is the nature of the Universe?" is good. Believing something just because somebody else said so is bad. Think for yourself, you might like it.

    And then there's this guy...

    "I hope God does NOT forgive them. They are all evil and nasty people"

    Way to represent the Prince of Peace, moron.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  9. Clinton

    The conflicts, violence, and hatred that You atheists blame on religion is actually caused by a very human flaw that is prevelent in every society, the idea that what I believe and who I am is far superior to that of my neighbor. It exists with or without Religion. It's the very same trait that i see Atheists filled with and spewing all over this blog... You have no leg to stand on. You're advocating the very intolerance you're supposedly standing up against.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      I don't think so. I believe in live and let live. Christians are still selling hate. Hate gays, hate atheists, hate other religions....etc

      October 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Clinton

      lamb of dog – I can't really attest to your experiences with Christians or how you feel about them. I can only say, i don't hate anybody. I'm not supposed to and through my experiences in life, i've learned there's no need to. Hate doesn't solve anything... I can disagree with how somebody lives their life and not hate them, i don't have to think everybody is doing the right thing or how they live their life is right... I doubt you do so why would you expect me to?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Clinton, Again, I respectfully disagree with your post. First MOST atheists do not advocate violence at all, in fact many are what Christians love to call "tree hugging" liberals, who fight for peace and for the poorest among us. You will NOT find a single Atheist backed candidate on the ballot this November who, like Christian Tea Party advocates, are seeking to impose their world view on this nation.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Clinton

      You may not feel that way, but the reality is that many Christian churches, and even leaders of certain denominations, actively encourage the marginalization, control, and hate of certain groups or ideas.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Clinton: And consider the many sects who preach that, if you do not accept their version of God (often Jesus) then you will burn in Hell forever. Now, how much more hateful can you get? A religion that actively promotes infinite torture merely because of how someone thinks, or because someone uses their reason and logic to question religious doctrine?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Clinton

      To – Admissionsguru – I am not saying all Atheists are that way... Honestly I have worked with just about every different color creed religion whatever in my life... I was in the Army and served with Atheists, Jews, Christians, Mormons, Catholics, even a Satanist. People are good and people are bad not based on their religious affiliation but based on how they conduct themselves. The Satanist, never did a bad thing to me, respected my belief system and we got along... These guys were my brothers.. I just seem to see a whole lot of hatefilled rants on this page right now and it's very common for me to see them... from Atheists acting like Christians are bad and Religion is bad and blah blah blah when I know... from not just an observer but a real life experience viewpoint... that it's not your belief system that makes you good or bad... it's who you are as a person.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Clinton – so, could you explain why, for example, certain religious groups protest with signs that say, "God hates F-ags". If these people were merely bad, wouldn't they have signs that simply read "I hate F-ags". Their religious beliefs clearly influence their behaviour. Would the 9/11 hijackers have been so gung ho if they didn't believe that they were on a holy mission from god, and that when they died they would go to paradise and have 73 virgins? Religion can make otherwise good people do bad things, and can make bad people do horrific things.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • FactChecker

      Many of those causing the violence and conflict say that it is because of their religion. Who are you to deny their statements?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • DeusEtPatria

      Let's see... Over history, WW1, WW2, Mao, Stalin, Mongolian Conquests, Taiping Rebellion, and a very large majority of large scale death and fighting is the result of human greed and evil. Not religion.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  10. Dave

    The reality is it is much higher than 1 in 5. Most people who claim to be of a religion know almost nothing about their religion and in no way does it affect their lives. People like to say they are Christian just because it is easy to say.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • David Stone

      And because it is "PC" to say you are religious....kind of like saying you are NOT a racist....same thing.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  11. dowdotica

    there is no cloth of any religion i could wear for to truly believe one must embrace knowing God is everywhere! can i get a hella louia!

    October 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  12. Conrad

    This is spin reporting at its best, making it sound like we are on the road to hell because of detour from the path of faith. In reality, even in a period that we all believe to have been intensely religious, (i.e., that of the Puritans in the Mass'tts Bay Colony), only 50% of people adhered to church doctrine–and the Puritans launched several raids against renegade villages to forcibly bring their occupants back into the fold. If we are only at 20%, we're doing better than they were.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  13. 21k

    thank god! this religious bs will be the end of us. we need to grow up as a society and realize that we're all there is.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  14. mama kindless

    Every once in a while someone on these boards will try to convince you that the U.S. was founded on Christianity. Well, we know that several of the important ratifiers and even designers of our Const!tution were Deists – some of them attending Christian church, and some, not so much. The important thing is that the designers and ratifiers of the Const!tution felt it was very important for there to be a separation of church and state. And although they didn't call it as such in the First Amendment, the language of that text and their other writings are pretty clear. Here are some of my favorite writings from some of the key founders of our country.

    James Madison (deist who sometimes attended Anglican church) (who became our 4th President, he is hailed as the Father of the Const!tution)

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, supersti tion, bigotry, and persecution.
    –A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?
    –A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795

    Thomas Jefferson (deist)(who became our 3rd President, he was the key author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

    We have solved ... the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.
    –Speech (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808)

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
    –Letter to the Danbury Baptists (1802)

    and then of course we have clarifying moments in history such as this:

    President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    –from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797

    I also like to include something Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute

    October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • brad4nyc

      Please don't confuse me with the facts! You are spot on.

      By the way, everyone knows that God Is Imaginary. Most Christians, Jews, and Muslims know this in their brains too- they just won't admit it. I think you will have fun if you see http://www.godisimaginary.com as it has lots of proof that god is, in fact, imaginary.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • His cur jests

      The domestication of the God continues. A rolled up newspaper should be all the discipline you need.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  15. Clinton

    I'm sorry here Atheists, but how do you come at people the way you do... You yell and scream at people who believe in God about how they should believe what you do. But that's exactly what you claim to hate about folks that believe in God, there is so much Hypocrisy from your side it's hard for anybody to take you seriously. You're simply sitting here telling us we should believe what you do, you have no proof or evidence to support your theories just Theories... How is that different than Religion? Get off it. I happen to believe God created all of the Natural forces we see and the laws that govern those forces are evidence of his Presence. Why is that crazier in your mind than A bunch of Random stuff occurred for no good reason and poof the Universe existed and here we are... You have no proof of your side and i can't prove to you what i believe so unless one of us can do that for the other perhaps you should not be hypocritical and just drop it? Respect folks and their beliefs and let it alone that's all i have to say that's how i treat folks of a different faith as well.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @Clinton

      You've received some very good and thoughtful replies to all your rude sh!t and then you have the audacity to spout this retarded nonsense. You're the typical christian, I guess.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • End Religion

      you either choose to live in ignorance or choose to live by facts. You have chosen ignorance. I wish you well with it.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • atheist84

      It's like watching someone following their GPS as they drive into a lake, wouldn't you try to yell at them for being so stupid?

      October 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Clinton

      The conflicts, violence, and hatred that You atheists blame on religion is actually caused by a very human flaw that is prevelent in every society, the idea that what I believe and who I am is far superior to that of my neighbor. It exists with or without Religion. It's the very same trait that i see Atheists filled with and spewing all over this blog... You have no leg to stand on.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      This jackfvck has been a huge azzhole in every post and now he wants us to respect his right to believe whatever he wants because we're being mean and he can't prove anything?!? Holy Sh!t his god must be so honored to have such a stupid follower on his side.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If you kept your religion to yourself, no one would criticize it.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Clinton – you are of course wrong in your assertion here. MOST atheists who live today, are nothing like you describe, just as most Christians are not like the ones who shout and curse on here. There are, however, always extremes on nearly every topic or belief out there.

      The fact is that MOST atheists are just as normal as most Christians, the only exception is that we, as atheists, simply do not follow the Christian god. Yes, most of us have very strong opinions on the failure of religions, both Christian and others, but we are not out to change the world or enforce anything on the population, other than obeying the laws of the land. Some of us do fight against theocratic thinking and support the Separation of Church and State, but your observations are biased and I hope you see that.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Clinton, we are not dealing in proofs here. The fact that you are demanding proof points to your lack of understanding. We get strident here because you and others fail to accept logic and rationality, which is the sole attribute that separates us from the animal kingdom. No one can prove a negative. it is just not possible. It is up to you to prove your case, which you certainly can not do in any way shape of form that does not require fantasy. So enjoy your life with your head in the sand. Perhaps you will consider what you have missed by missing out on being a logical and loving human being.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Clinton

      Moby Schtick – you are very hostile towards others with differing points of view... You are the saddest type of Atheist, you are so uncertain of your own beliefs that you must justify them by attacking others... Amazing... If you have true faith in what you believe, then there's no need to attack others beliefs... you know you're right and nothing else matters.

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

      "you have no proof or evidence to support your theories just Theories"

      Man, someone failed HARD in science class. It's this sort of willful ignorace that we're trying to end.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @End Religion live by facts? What facts are those? Many of the posts on this page are spouted off in ignorance. It is hypocritical for atheists to say that they hate how Christians tell them how to live, but like Clinton said, how are you any different. All of the venom and hate being spewed here by atheists shows me that even without religion, there will be no peace.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Clinton, I am truly sorry that you're a stupid azzhole. there, do you feel better?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Moby You're the best !!!!

      October 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @asdf Fail at science. You mean the class where they tell you that matter can never be created or destroyed? Oh, I guess except for whatever the first "thing" was. At one point something had to come from nothing, or that something had to be eternal, so...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jarhead333 G-od can end all this doubt by simply bringing peace to the middle east, end disease, hunger, homelessness, wars, violence etc etc. If he is all you say he is WHAT IS HE WAITING FOR.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @Jarhead

      Who is saying that something came from nothing? Science doesn't say that.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @ Ken Margo I'm glad to see that you have Christianity figured out. I bet you are a wealth of knowledge on the matter in order to form a "logical" and informed opinion.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @Moby. Since the atheists seem to have the origins of the universe all figured out, enlighten me. What was the first thing that started this wild ride in motion?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Nobody knows. We're still studying the data, but we may never know. It's an honest answer, and a lot better than, "Invisible sky wizard with magic spellz!!"

      October 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jarhead333 I didn't say I had it figured out. As far how the world got here. I really don't care. Anything I say pertaining to that is just an opinion. People like you are pushing religion. Unfortunately, not pushing any facts. You say he is real. All I ask is prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. I can't prove he doesn't exist because I can't prove a negative. No what argument you make, you end up with nothing.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jarhead333 I meant to say "No matter the argument you end up with nothing" Sorry I'm at work.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @ Moby very creative. The origin of the universe is unknown, so you cant exactly tell me I am wrong, just as I cannot tell you that you are wrong. In my personal opinion, the complexity of the universe and man is proof of a creator. I cannot show you God, and you have no proof that there is no creator. Isn't it just easier to not believe! Atheism is easy.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Not creative, but accurate, and yes atheism is "easy." Most good ideas are simple and obvious, even if they are misunderstood and mistrusted at first. (Research how the Greeks treated people who "believed" in the number zero-–however good, simple, and obvious that number is.)

      I certainly can tell you that you are wrong if you are claiming any of the known gods as true. They aren't, as scientific fact can demonstrate. Your belief puts forth hypotheses that have been proven wrong; therefore, your god and your belief is wrong, too. Your brain is complex, and so it defines its environment as complex in order to survive by beating the odds. Brains that are more complex than ours would consider our universe much, much more complex than even we do just as an ant doesn't think the universe is complex at all.

      Atheism is the only logical position. cheers.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @jarhead

      How does complexity = creator? Even if it did, wouldn't the creator also be more complex?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Jarhead333 What a cop out answer. Getting a plane to fly is complex, so g-od created airplanes? Brain surgery is complex so G-od does brain surgery? Bottom line, religion is dying a slow death and there's nothing you can do about it. Catholic schools are closing at a record pace, church attendance waning. The end may not happen during my lifetime but it's coming. When religious whack jobs talk about the end of the world, they're really talking about the end of religion. BYE.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • sam stone

      who are these atheists who are "screaming and shouting" that you should believe as they do?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • jarhead333

      You are right. But not about creation. You know that part that is based on hypothesis. You and I are not that much different. Your perception is that I believe what other people feed me, yet your entire argument is the same. You try to mask the fact that there really is no difference with name calling and other attacks. Call atheism logical, yet you cant really "prove" anything, nor can I. My belief in creation, and your lack of belief in anything meet at the crossroads of proof. Good day sir.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @jarhead333 What a bunch of bull spit. You and your religion deserve each other. Afraid to tackle man made issues by hiding your head in the sand. You would think that G-od would stop man from destroying a planet he worked hard to create. How can you worship someone who would sit back and let that happen?

      October 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The difference between our beliefs is that mine is based on a system that has doubt and criticism at its foundation. The scientific discipline works by exclusion. It asks, "How can we prove this wrong?" over and over and over until what's left becomes more and more narrow and defined. Your beliefs are based on feelings and traditions.

      Atheism is "not belief in gods," and yes, it's the most logical position since no gods have been demonstrated to exist. It's as logical as not believing in unicorns since they've not been proven to exist. You don't believe in unicorns simply because no one can prove that they DON'T exist, do you? Think about it. The unicorn/god believer is the one who must provide proof, not the one who does not believe because he sees no proof. Our positions are not on equal footing. Mine is the more logical as the unicorn example proves.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @ Ken Margo. Why are you so angry Ken? I assume there was some incident in your life in which you feel that God was not there for you. Why are my beliefs so offensive to you? If my faith is unsubstantiated and illogical, why does it make you so angry? It obviously means something to you. I see a lot of venom in posts on this subject. It would seem to me that a group of people who do not believe in God would be more indifferent to those that do.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @Moby. Okay, I'll bite. If you operate under the premis, "How can we prove this wrong," then how do you prove God wrong. You keep saying that there is proof, but be real with yourself, you dont have that proof, only that assumption. That is also an assumption that is fed to you by a third party.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @jarhead333

      Still waiting how complexity = created.

      As for your more recent post, I think you're misunderstanding the scientific method. What testable claim are you making? That's the biggest question. Is your claim testable? If so, then we can move forward in questioning, and if not, then it is classified and unfalsifiable, and therefore without any reason to accept it as true.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Jarhead333 Trust me there are more important things to be angry about. I just stated facts. But you are right about one thing. G-od wasn't there for me because he never existed. I noticed you didn't answer the question about man's quest to destroy the earth and G-od's will to sit back and let that happen. Just like when G-od sat back on 9/11, earthquakes, twisters,floods etc.. and just let those things happen. Think about it. Why didn't g-od step in? For a man who "knows all" he seems to be a step slow.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Jarhead, you keep on missing the important bits.

      I disbelieve in god for the same reason you disbelieve in unicorns. You don't have to prove that unicorns don't exist to not believe in them (I hope). If it makes sense for you to not believe in unicorns because the unicorn believers have not provided you with evidence for believing in unicorns, then it makes sense for me to not believe in gods because the god believers have not provided me with evidence for believing in gods. It's simple logic, and I'm surprised you're struggling with it so much.

      I believe in the current scientific theories because of the rigor with which the scientific community investigates their theories. They continually seek to prove points of it wrong or inaccurate in some way, and that process is precisely how the theory gets further and further refined to become more and more accurate. It's the ONLY logical process possible, an it's exactly why you trust modern medical equipment and for your computer to do what you bought it to do.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Now onto the other point you raise:

      It's easy to "prove god wrong" depending on the god. If we discuss the god of the bible, we can use almost any book and chapter. Let's take the example of Jesus referencing the flood as an actual, global event. The flood never happened (as is obvious to anyone with 3rd grade understanding of earth science) and so Jesus was not who he claimed to be and so bible and its god are wrong. We can do this all night with verse after verse after verse.

      October 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Moby Jarhead333 and others that feel the way he does don't accept facts because they would feel like fools for following it the way they do. That is why religious people get so angry and defensive when you speak ill about religion. Personally I believe you can believe whatever you want. The problem arises when people bring religion from behind church doors and try to influence laws based on their beliefs. If people simply kept religion to themselves, we wouldn't be in a position to criticize it.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • jarhead333

      And with that, I will call it a night. Moby, seriously. A man of science? Many scientists will also tell you that there was a great flood in this region. Did it happen as it was written, some will debate. Also, Jesus was written by non-christian emporers. There is historical proof that Jesus existed, the debate is whether he was who he said he was. I doubt you have a wealth of biblical knowledge, you just want to debate the entire Old Testament. Do you also not "believe" in history or cultural research. The New Testament was written within 1 generation of the death of Christ. If people walked around claiming that these things happened, and they didnt, it would be considered blasphemous, and they would have been killed. I did enjoy discussing these topics with most of you tonight. I honestly mean that too. It was refreshing to have a somewhat civilized conversation with people with different views. Life would be so boring if we all agreed on everything, plus I think it helps gain perspective. Thank you.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Okay, so by your reasoning you should believe in unicorns because you can't prove that they don't exist. Make sure to tell your friends. Clearly, you aren't interested in critically examining your faith. You'd rather just pretend you have and claim it's everybody else who's wrong and you're right. That's what the muslim suicide bombers do, so congrats on that sort of reasoning. If you're ever really interested in honestly evaluating the arguments against the bible, there's truckloads of excellent resources out there-–much of it from former believers and former pastors. Good luck with your delusion.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Oh, and the "local flood" thing is bullsh!t. The flood jesus referenced was global, and that's an impossibility. Just like we didn't all descend from one "Adam" and so get some invisible magic disease of "sin" in an invisible magic "soul." Of course, you and your ilk can always find a way to move the boundaries just past the point where any proof can be brought to bear so that you can continue on in your belief. I can almost hear it now, "Ba..ba...ba..ba..ba but you can't prove that there's no such thing as a soul or sin!!!! So that means my belief that they do exist is just as valid as your belief that they don't!!!!" No, it doesn't work that way. The claimant has the burden of proof. I'm perfectly justified in not believing in the Hindu gods until they provide me with proof and I'm perfectly justified in not believing in your god and sin and the soul until you provide proof. You don't get to redefine how logic works.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  16. David Stone

    To see what the world would look like dominated by religion, take a look at islamic republics....or best case look at the amish rolling around in horse and buggy with no electricity. Religion is an impediment to progress at best, and a cancer at worst.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • DeusEtPatria

      What about the Dark Ages? Was it the atheists who kept science and books alive? No, it was the monks! What about the printing press? Same story, Made by "religious people" for religious purposes (printing manuscripts, etc).

      October 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  17. Thomas Mitchell

    I've never been STUPID enough to believe in any silly & fake religion. If you believe in that nonsense and waste your time and money on it, then I feel very sorry for you.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  18. KBR

    Atheism is a faith every bit as much as religious belief since it is based on a belief that there is no God despite having no scientific proof either way.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • atheist84

      Clearly you don't understand how the idea of faith works. It takes faith to believe in God, we draw an educated hypothesis that there is no God. This is the 21st century, not the Dark Ages...get your head out of the clouds.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Atheism is a faith like "off" is a tv channel.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • NoTheism

      So, you believe in unicorns, fairies, zombies, vampires, and so on because there is no proof that they don't exist too?

      October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • End Religion

      no matter what your church, churchy friends, or churchy blogs might tell you, atheism is not a religion. We don't believe or disbelieve. We look at facts, and you don't have enough to convince us a creator exists. However we do have enough to tell you jesus and your abrahamic god likely never existed.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Pope Benedict

      Faith in yourself to use your brain with logical reasoning and scientific methods is not the same as religion. But it's not religion because there is no supernatural being. Atheism is not a religion because it requires no supernatural being.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • David Stone

      Science 101: When there is no evidence of something, there is no justification for believing in it as anything more than a THEORY. Keep in mind, a theory with NO basis whatsoever, is a pretty sad excuse for a theory.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @David Stone

      You have just shown you know nothing about science.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  19. !

    *************************************************************************************************************************************************

    Do not believe what an atheistic satanic author on CNN is trying to tell us proud religious people about America turning into secular and nonreligious society. This poll was asked only by few thousands out of more than 312 million Americans.

    America is a Christian country and has always been the most religious developed nation in the world. We are proud of our faith and those against it are neither Americans nor patriots. This is one nation under God and our motto is 'In God We Trust'.

    > 80% of Americans are Christians and more than 90% believe in God :)
    Christianity is growing rapidly across the world, and in the U.S. we expect additional hundred million more Christians by next few decades. We have over 400,000 churches and every day new churches are opening and getting built.

    *** Only 1-3% of the U.S. consider themselves atheist/agnostic. Just because 15 – 20% of Americans saying 'No Religion' does NOT equal (≠) to being atheist/agnostic. Watch the video clip, the majority of the 1/5 voters still pray to God and continue to believe in one and only truly God ***

    CNN belief blog and other websites talking about religion is dominaned by closet atheists who have nothing else to do but being against religion and Christianity in general. One day they will realize their big mistake and I hope God does NOT forgive them. They are all evil and nasty people, just like how Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussoulini, and Castro were!

    Stay away from nonbelievers.... yuck!
    **************************************************************************************************************************************************
    *************************************************************************************************************************************************

    Do not believe what an atheistic satanic author on CNN is trying to tell us proud religious people about America turning into secular and nonreligious society. This poll was asked only by few thousands out of more than 312 million Americans.

    America is a Christian country and has always been the most religious developed nation in the world. We are proud of our faith and those against it are neither Americans nor patriots. This is one nation under God and our motto is 'In God We Trust'.

    > 80% of Americans are Christians and more than 90% believe in God :)
    Christianity is growing rapidly across the world, and in the U.S. we expect additional hundred million more Christians by next few decades. We have over 400,000 churches and every day new churches are opening and getting built.

    *** Only 1-3% of the U.S. consider themselves atheist/agnostic. Just because 15 – 20% of Americans saying 'No Religion' does NOT equal (≠) to being atheist/agnostic. Watch the video clip, the majority of the 1/5 voters still pray to God and continue to believe in one and only truly God ***

    CNN belief blog and other websites talking about religion is dominaned by closet atheists who have nothing else to do but being against religion and Christianity in general. One day they will realize their big mistake and I hope God does NOT forgive them. They are all evil and nasty people, just like how Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussoulini, and Castro were!

    Stay away from nonbelievers.... yuck!
    **************************************************************************************************************************************************
    *************************************************************************************************************************************************

    Do not believe what an atheistic satanic author on CNN is trying to tell us proud religious people about America turning into secular and nonreligious society. This poll was asked only by few thousands out of more than 312 million Americans.

    America is a Christian country and has always been the most religious developed nation in the world. We are proud of our faith and those against it are neither Americans nor patriots. This is one nation under God and our motto is 'In God We Trust'.

    > 80% of Americans are Christians and more than 90% believe in God :)
    Christianity is growing rapidly across the world, and in the U.S. we expect additional hundred million more Christians by next few decades. We have over 400,000 churches and every day new churches are opening and getting built.

    *** Only 1-3% of the U.S. consider themselves atheist/agnostic. Just because 15 – 20% of Americans saying 'No Religion' does NOT equal (≠) to being atheist/agnostic. Watch the video clip, the majority of the 1/5 voters still pray to God and continue to believe in one and only truly God ***

    CNN belief blog and other websites talking about religion is dominaned by closet atheists who have nothing else to do but being against religion and Christianity in general. One day they will realize their big mistake and I hope God does NOT forgive them. They are all evil and nasty people, just like how Stalin, Mao, Pot, Mussoulini, and Castro were!

    Stay away from nonbelievers.... yuck!
    **************************************************************************************************************************************************

    October 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Patrick

      Quit spamming this. It's bad enough you're sucking up useful oxygen.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • TheD

      | This poll was asked only by few thousands out of more than 312 million Americans.

      Congratulation, this is what statistical sampling aka "polling" means (every number you go on citing was asked "only by few thousands out of more than 312 million Americans").

      October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • === o ===

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degnerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" deganerates to:
      "captain america" degnerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degnerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degnerates to:
      "!" degenerates to: <----–
      "pervert alert" or "...." where he writes such lovely posts as "QUE ERS, THE ONES THAT GAVE AIDS TO AMERICA"
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this h0mophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer bootcamp "flunkie".

      October 9, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REvmhBO99I4&w=640&h=390]

      October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Jerry

      It is up to TRUE believers to take up arms and convert or subdue the atheist heathens at any cost! Romney may be mormon, but at least he's not an atheist! Vote for Romney is the first step to reclaiming Christian DOMINANCE over America! The non-believers will be converted through force or done away with!!!

      October 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Narpo

      That statistic was taken in the 1980's. 80% of America was 'religious' at the time and believe in 'A' god. You seem to forget there are 3,000 other religions out there.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Paul

      This paragraph is so big to explain your belief. A waste of space honestly. God is fake. Period. Feel free to prove me otherwise. The onus is on you.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • derek

      whaaaa... look at me, I believe in the easter bunny... don't make fun of my religion! whaaaaa

      October 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • I think it's Chad. He's become unstuck.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      No.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • End Religion

      jerry and OP, this is for you. Enjoy!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmcEudtif2o&w=640&h=390]

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

      @TheD

      All that is required is a statistically significant sample size...

      October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • good one

      How lovingly christian you are.We atheists feel awful not carrying your obvious anger and frustration around..Some- times the facts hurt.So look under your bed tonight,there may be an atheist hiding.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  20. Evangelical Christian

    The more secular our society gets turned into, the more we will evangelize everyone even if people don't like it.
    America is a big mess already and wants to be turned into Europe's big mess.

    Islamic nations have good solution..... nonbelievers gets their head cut off.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      So you think evangelicals should be even more like radical Islamists?

      October 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • 21k

      and xtians tend to get whacked more often than the thinking people. so even better.

      October 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Paul

      Oh, how very Christian of you.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Ismael

      Really, that is your solution. Where is your "cristial love". I belive that your god, whatever he/she/it is should be frowning to your comment. :)

      October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • asdf

      Poe's Law, everyone. I hope.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @asdf,

      this is @Evangelical Christian – from the same keyboard that brought you the post by " ! " immediately above this one.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • jarhead333

      Seriously? I am a Christian, but that is the kind of thing that turns people off. Gods message is about love, not, CONFORM NOW!. Statements like this are why there is a separation.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • DeusEtPatria

      @Ismael – Although I don't agree entirely with the idea of killing all non-Believers, be sure to not confuse God's patience and love for his mercy and tolerance.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Ismael

      @DeusEtPatria:
      mercy and tolerance? Please spare me the lecture. Have you read the bible. Your god killed approximately 2,552,452 people (biblical number), including poor Er (genesis 38:7) for no reason whatsoever. I want to know how is this merciful and tolerable god that you are talking about, because is not yahweh.

      October 9, 2012 at 9:28 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.