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Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing
January 10th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Bucking previous trends, survey finds growth of the religiously unaffiliated slowing

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.

Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years.

This study contrasts with headlines from previous studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that found the group was the fastest growing "religious" group in America and that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.

“Although this ‘rise of the nones’ has increased dramatically over recent decades, the rate of increase slowed last year, suggesting the possibility that there may be a leveling off in this measure in the years ahead,” reports the Gallup study, which is made up of more than 350,000 interviews.

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”

“Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says.

CNN Belief Blog: Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

In his book, “God is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,” Newport argues that a number of factors, including baby boomers reaching senior ages, migration to more religious states, recognition of health and well being of religion and an increase in a Hispanic population, are all reasons that “we are going to continue to have a quite religious nation going forward.”

Atheist and humanist activists disagree and pushed back against the Gallup study.

“The truth is, it doesn't really matter whether one of these surveys – even a big one like Gallup – shows the number leveling off a bit this past year,” Greg Epstein, humanist chaplain at Harvard University, says. “First of all, the numbers for young Americans are still dramatically higher, and secondly, it is beyond dispute now that the "nones" are one of the largest demographic groups in the United States, and we're going to stay that way for a long, long time.”

The Gallup study also found that 27% of Americans age 18 to 29 identified as religious nones, making the age group the largest subgroup in the study. The finding tracks with other studies on religious nones, many of which have found the growth among the religiously unaffiliated has been most notable among people who are 18 to 29 years old.

“There's no slowing here at the Secular Student Alliance. We're up to 394 campus groups from 310 a year ago,” Jesse Galef, communications director at the organization, says in response to the survey. “You can see the religious future of America just by looking at the demographics: Young Americans (18-29) are almost three times as likely to be unaffiliated with religion than senior citizens are.”

In particular, Galef points out, the Secular Student Alliance has experienced growth in ages below 18, an age group that Gallup did not survey. In the last year, says Galef, the number of Secular Student Alliance affiliates at high schools doubled to 60 campuses.

CNN Belief Blog: My take: 'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman

News of strong growth among nones had long been heralded by their community.

As study after study began to report that religious nones in America were growing, many atheist, agnostic and humanist activists began to stress the need for these relative non-believers to come together and turn their numbers into political and social influence. Though some leaders split on what wielding that influence would look like, the size of religious nones became the impetus for many leaders to call for more recognition.

In response to the Gallup study, those calls continued.

“The real question now is when are our historically large numbers going to start turning into more votes and influence,” Epstein says. “The nones can become a steady and inspiring powerhouse in American life if we focus on what we do believe in.”

And even though the Gallup study found a relative leveling off of growth among the nones, David Silverman, the president of America Atheists, says he finds the survey “not at all troubling.”

“This underscores what American Atheists has been saying for years - that every person in America knows more nonreligious people than they think they know,” Silverman says. “America has to get used to the fact that atheists are everywhere, you already know us, and we are a vibrant and growing portion of society.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Nones

soundoff (1,615 Responses)
  1. Jill

    Robert Brown, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

    So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.

    Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.

    Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.

    Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

    And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I concur.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • niknak

      Better be careful there national libtard, she might be a dreaded hippie....

      January 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  2. kap23

    All of the various religions of the Earth provide a wide path for all to follow to destruction. Yes, there really is a living God, but he has nothing to do with religion... any religion.

    The really neat part is that you don't have to look very hard at all, but with a pure heart. Then He will find you.

    By the way... his name is not God. And this should be where you start your research.

    Good luck.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • niknak

      Hard to research something that does not exist.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Thanks.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • The Whole Truth.

      I used to think I was too good for belief in God.

      Turned out I wasn't. I was just full of prejudice.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Prejudice against stupidity is a beneficial prejudice.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Religious types pretending that they are religious are always funny.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  3. ari

    what does one do at a Secular Student Alliance? talk about how you don't believe in god? is there also a Students Against Belief in Unicorns club for people to discuss their lack of belief in the mythical creatures? if you need to join a group to talk about how much you don't like/believe in something, you're doing it wrong.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      They just don't waste time praying instead they make things happen. And they most likely learn about real stuff and not fairy tales.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • ari

      "make things happen" like what? charity stuff you mean? religious student groups do that too. the catholic church is actually the #1 source of charitable contributions to the poor in the US and the evangelical salvation army is #2. if you want to do charity work, you don't have to be so arrogant and self-righteous as to create an entire group for atheists to do it. just join up with your local cancer charities or AIDS charities or soup kitchens. many are religiously unaffiliated.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Brittany

      The Secular Student Union that I sometimes sat in on at University focused on learning and reflecting on the beliefs and customs of many different religions. We often had guest speakers come and discuss their faith.

      I did more reflection on religious ideals there than I did in Catholic school.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • ari

      the "secular student alliance" focuses on learning about different religions? isn't that... the opposite of secular? well, whatever. sounds like the interfaith alliance that used to be at lots of colleges back when i was a young'un. i guess "interfaith" isn't trendy anymore so they've renamed it.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      So its arrogant and self righteous to have a non secular charity but not a Christian one?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • ari

      there are already plenty of "secular charities", if by "secular" you mean not explicitly religious. creating an entire group solely for nonreligious people to do charity work rather than just join one of the existing secular charities (although brittany up there says that it's not actually a charity group) is inane.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Ari, there are plenty of religiously based charities also. Are you saying that it is inane for them to keep forming new ones also?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Brittany

      I was saying that the specific student club I had experience with was not a charity group. The members identified as atheist, but didn't see that as a reason to deny themselves of all of the history and culture that can be shared through religion. We also went out for dinner sometimes.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  4. atheist62

    Whole Truth NO your MOTHER gave you life

    January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  5. lamb of dog

    @chris
    I am aware that science uses theories and hypotheses. But religion claims to know facts. I stand by my original response.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  6. atheist62

    Religion is man's way of controlling man. Honestly can anyone say God did anything for them? Hard to believe in an invisible man.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • The Whole Truth.

      God gave me life.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • ari

      there are lots of things that we can't see that are real, not to mention the fact that if a higher power did exist somewhere in the universe, the likelihood of us "seeing" him/it/her is very low given how little of the universe we have explored. there are many arguments against religion but this isn't one of them.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  7. Anon

    For an all-powerful being, it sure seems to have problems handling money. Always needs more of it.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • End Religion

      Let's be fair. There are rules. Since god is good and just and all that jazz he wouldn't want to break the rules. Rules like:
      - making fish from fish: OK
      - making loaves from loaves: OK
      - making people: OK
      - making paper and metal discs that are accepted as currency: NOT OK

      January 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  8. Pablo

    The pious have been praying for peace and goodwill for over 2000 years. How's that working out? So much for the power of prayer.

    January 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  9. Robert Brown

    Some say the stories in the bible are unbelievable and some are proven false by science. Specifically, the ones that really bother most folks are the creation and the flood. So, you can believe some force or deity can start the ball rolling, so to speak, but our understanding doesn’t line up with a literal 7 day creation? Ok, fair enough, what if the whole creation story is a parable or allegory? Some would say well that could be ok, except, the sun was created after plants in genesis. I have noticed that as well, but if you want to just find what you consider a problem then give up and quit, why bother questioning in the first place?

    Here are some things to consider on the plants appearing before the sun. First, is the obvious one “let there be light.” Next, and from there on, after each day in the story, it says,” and the evening and the morning were” and then whatever day it was. Finally, when plants first emerged it is suggested that the earth’s atmosphere was cloudy and foggy until the plants grew long enough to clear some of the CO2. So, if you look at it from an earthly perspective, while light could be perceived during the day and lesser light at night the sun moon and stars weren’t clearly visible until the atmosphere cleared.

    You know God communicated with several people in the bible using dreams and visions. Suppose he gave Moses a vision or dream about creation to write down, it would be like a slide show, the first frame darkness, then light, water, land, plants, the sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, animals, people. If you were sitting on earth watching it unfold in super-fast forward it could have appeared just like that.

    The key to creation if you can accept a power, force, or deity had some hand in it, is Genesis 1:1” In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” If you can then accept that what follows is a parable given to Moses by God, it would seem to me that it would be reasonable that it is a very simple story that a man who lived in ancient times could understand and accept. It follows at least to some degrees the steps of the development of life on earth, as we think they occurred. If you view chapter 1 in that context it could alleviate some of your objections to that part of the creation narrative.

    If you could accept the first chapter of genesis is a parable or allegory, or not, then let’s proceed to the Garden of Eden. Regardless of how you believe humans developed, at some point, you get to what we today understand as humans, a very distinct, intelligent, self-conscious, thoughtful, species when compared to all related species.

    If you view the garden of Eden and Adam and Eve as a parable about an example pair of the first humans to obtain awareness and their interaction with this creative force and their development of an understanding of right (righteousness, thought and behavior God approves of, thought and behavior that humans esteem) and wrong (sin, behavior God hates, or the human guilt complex if you like).

    In the parable we have this transition from being unaware or being just happy go lucky smart animals, to awareness, something, somehow, removed from the animal kingdom. So, regardless of how you feel that developed, it is presented in an instantaneous realization brought about by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. The fruit and the tree represent this awareness or knowledge.

    Was the sin taking and eating from the tree, developing the awareness or knowledge, that first lie they told God, or the desire to know more, which could be akin to pride?

    A side note here ladies, if you look at it from this context, women developed superior intelligence first, then gave it to, or taught men.

    If you go along those lines of thought you have to deal with the serpent. Could this serpent introduced into the story be the desire for knowledge? Why would it, this desire, be considered a bad thing by the creator, innocence lost?

    “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

    “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

    As parents, do we not endeavor to protect the innocence of our children, and as children don’t we desire to be a grown up? It could be that the serpent is the desire or pride, a separation or a want to go in a direction contrary to the will of the creator, innocence lost.

    Some say the old testament God was just too mean and is not worthy of worship. Why would he create humans knowing they were going to rebel and then kill them wholesale? There are several examples in the bible, the most extreme is the flood.

    It is not believed because we do not see evidence of a worldwide flood and if there was one, the God who did it could not be a good God worthy of worship. Not only that, but the idea that humans and animals developed to some point then were all but eliminated from the earth just does not line up with what we think we know of the history of the earth, at least as far as timing.

    First, let’s look at what we do know, there are in modern times examples of huge catastrophic floods. There is evidence from ancient times of floods. Now, could Noah’s flood have been a local or regional flood? Could one family have built a boat similar to the dimensions recorded in the bible? Would a boat of this size be adequate to hold a family, their livestock, a collection of local wild animals, and all the food and water the group would need to survive for a long time? If you can accept that all this is possible, then the story, parable, or allegory also seems to be a reasonable possibility.

    Would a God who would destroy a bunch of extremely mean people and preserve some good ones still be unworthy of worship? If so, then what would be the lesson or message of such a parable? It seems very simple to me, God is demonstrating his intention to create, allow people the opportunity to choose good or bad, allow the ones who have chosen evil to change their minds, and then ultimately, eliminate evil and preserve good. What could possibly be wrong with that?

    January 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • I Am God

      I'm going to say this right now. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that plant life needs to grow with light. Any individual could have noticed that during that time period.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Theologically

      Paul rejected your concept and mandated literal interpretation. Are you rejecting the authority of Paul?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Atheists: Teaching Christians the Bible

      Genesis 7:19 "And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered"

      Your local flood theory just faceplanted. I can do the same with the rest of your gibberish, but why bother?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      If you can accept a story and bend it to fit modern logic then..... It's still a fairytale.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • chris

      Very well written. Might I note that the process of photosynthesis is an evolutionary product, not something that life started off with.

      Source: "An Introduction into Biology." I believe they use this one as a textbook.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • niknak

      Too long, too boring.....

      January 10, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • chris

      @lamb dont be afraid to open your mind to other explanations ; especially those that can expand upon those you already know. Science requires faith in the men/women who live everyday normal lives, and their theories change constantly. After all, a scientific fact by definition is only a means to reproduce experimental results. It can never be proven right, only wrong.

      When you take a closer look at sociology and psychology, it becomes clear that bias is inevitable due to the various numerous human experiences that are completely unique to the individual. The trick is keeping that bias in check when you learn new things or have new ideas. Take in all information and reflect to form your concepts. An opinion is just that. In the end, we're all human and we all struggle to weigh the information on religion, science, or honestly ANY issue. No one knows. It boils down to what you believe.

      Source: An introduction to Biology. 2nd edition. Author: Hoefnagels.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Stephanie

      Wow dude, you're tryin' to convince so hard! Doesn't it seem odd to you that you would have to try so hard to figure it all out? Don't you get tired of coming up with all these excuses and examples for bible god? Nice try though, especially where you give us "ladies" a shout out.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Who needs faith when you can convince yourself so well. Are you also known as father brown?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jill

      Robert Brown, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

      So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.

      Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the stone armband. Corner the market on plural vestiges of the apparent closures but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.

      Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.

      Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation toast. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • T-Roy

      A word of advise. No reads your post if it is over four lines long. Also, don't copy and past bible verses. You end up looking like a delusional little girl who can not think for herself...

      January 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Theologically,
      I actually take a pretty literal interpretation of scripture myself and I like Paul’s writing.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Atheists: Teaching Christians the Bible,
      I am ok with a global flood. You?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      lamb of dog,
      Not bending, just put it in the context of parable, another idea is that all of that happened way before we even think humans evolved.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Chris,
      Thanks.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Niknak,
      I started out with the three separated. If I ever post the ideas again I’ll separate again, just for you, although, I don’t know what I can do about the boring part.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Stephanie,
      Thanks, I personally take a literal interpretation of scripture, so none of the above was for my benefit. I have had personal experiences with God, so I believe. If he created it all in 7 literal days or it is parable matters not to me. The idea was to help those who have strong beliefs in what science tells us. If you can’t come to the point where you believe the God of the bible is God, then how can you ever be converted by the gospel?

      January 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      lamb of dog,
      As stated above, my faith comes from my personal experience with God. I have been a believer for a very long time. I am not a pastor, just an ordinary everyday believer.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      T-Roy,
      Thanks for the advice. As I told nik nak I will see what I can do to separate the 3 if I decide to post again.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Zingo

      No evidence of a global flood. Moving species all over the world to noah virtually impossible and really stupid. Ark way too big to be made of wood, and way way way too small for all the animals and their provisions. Way too few people to care for all those animals. No way that only two of each species would result in stable population growth as species eat other species – not enough to sustain the predators, and wipes out the prey. Genetic inbreeding as well. Transportation back to the farthest reaches of the globe virtually impossible, and really stupid. Multiple variations of Asians, Africans, Hispanics, aborigines, Arabs, Whites, and all the other races emerging from 6 Middle Easterners, getting to their various geographic locations – absurd.

      Noah's Ark is downright ridiculous on so many levels that it defies my imagination that anyone could actually believe it.

      January 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  10. truth be told

    All 1% of the fools in America that profess atheism should be cast adrift in shark infested waters mid ocean without boats. At least then atheists would serve some purpose.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      ah such hatred will get you a warm afterlife, pack light.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • I Am God

      Wow by this statement we all know that you are uneducated.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Do you know what adrift means? Difficult to be adrift without a boat.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere

      As opposed to the misnamed tbt that has no purpose.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Smartie

      Your post demonstrates that you are both ignorant and intolerant.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • pshht

      You christians need to quit with the 1% atheists. There is way more. Churches are emptying left and right and this board is full of non-believers

      January 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Atheist Hypocrisy

      Atheist Astrourfer.

      I can see right thru you and your games.

      And I'm a non-believer.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Joe Zamecki

      It's nice to be noticed. ;o)

      January 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • niknak

      So says the jeebus following peaceful non violent xtian.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • atheist62

      Religion is mans way of controlling man. Sorry but I for one don't need "faith" that I'm going someplace after this life. When you die you die get over it.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • heliocracy

      HAHAHA you believe in a magical man in the sky who knows everything and created the entire universe, yet among his chief concerns are whether you believe in him, and whether you find your neighbor's wife hot, but I'm the fool for being an atheist? Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • The Whole Truth.

      What if death is not the final outcome?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • The Whole Truth.

      God dwells within us. All of us. You can actually tap into this inner power, or mock it like an ignorant child.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • niknak

      @ partial birth truth,

      No, it is you that are the child, still clinging to your god security blanket....

      January 10, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • The Whole Truth.

      > niknak

      I do feel secure. :)

      January 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • niknak

      Yeah, and so do I.
      If you want to keep believing in fairy tales, then waste all the time you want, it's yours to waste.
      But don't come and try to pawn your fairy tale off as fact, unless you have the required proof to back it up.
      And sorry in advance, we don't accept the bible as that required proof.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • T-Roy

      It is amazes me that people like you are so afraid of people who think differently from you. Why does your fear make you hateful?

      You would think that being a Christian, and having a personal relationship with God would be satisfying for you. But it isn't, because you can't be happy or feel secure, until I believe it too.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • The Whole Truth.

      "you believe in a magical man in the sky who knows everything and created the entire universe"

      That is false. I don't believe that. I know a lot of Christians who don't believe that. I will stand up against a lie like this.

      I know a lot of people don't believe in God. I'm quite fine with this. But when people accuse me of believing in fairy tales, I will correct their error in judgment.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "you believe in a magical man in the sky who knows everything and created the entire universe"
      That is false. I don't believe that. I know a lot of Christians who don't believe that. I will stand up against a lie like this.'

      So which bit don't you believe?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  11. Patty Paul

    We are uniquely individual beings, each on our own personal spiritual journey of discovery. Some people are drawn to organized religion (any man made collection of beliefs, rules and regulations) because that is what makes sense to them, based upon where they are on their journey. For more and more others, the old paternalistic, chauvinistic religions are not attractive, because they fail to answer the more enlightened questions that people are asking. Be brave enough to question everything – and the answers will find their way to you. What we believe, after all, is simply a matter of choice.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Peppermint Paddy

      Safe to say you are in the drug-using spiritual-but-not-religious category, yes??

      January 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Rundvelt

      People rarely choose their belief. Everyone who was born christian and grew up christian didn't have a choice as an example.

      Furhermore, not believing isn't a choice. It's a conclusion based on sane, rational thought. :)

      Take a child, insulte him or her from religion till he/she can think rationally and then present the concept of the Christian God. See what they say.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Interesting

      @Rundvelt, what bull. A child who is raised in a atheist home and who is taught atheist principles will experience the same lack of what you call "choice." Atheist principles will be what the child is familiarized with, just as much as a child raised in a religious home is taught the principles of that religion.

      It is also a fallacy to assume that kids who are raised in religious homes never question their faith and that at some point in their lives, that child will make a conscious decision as to whether they will follow that path or find another.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • niknak

      What exactly is an "atheist principle?"

      Can you please provide an example of one, or define that for us?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Interesting

      Whoops, typo–make that "OR that at some point in their lives, that child will NOT make a conscious decision as to whether they will follow that path or find another." My choice to stay with my faith was a carefully considered and studied decision. I have siblings who chose to follow other paths.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • Interesting

      Ok, @niknak – I would say that about the atheist belief that there is no God? That is what I think of as an atheist principle. Isn't that the baseline from which an atheist views the world and which shapes his or her entire outlook?

      January 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • niknak

      No, that is not what we believe.
      We believe in facts and what can be proven by those facts.
      We don't believe in god(s) because there are no facts to support it (their) existence.
      Just like we don't believe in elves, or bigfoot, or space aliens.
      We apply out litmus test to everything, not just religion.

      And when there are no facts to explain something, like the big bang, we have no issue with saying we don't know.

      Unlike you believers who always come back to "god did it" as your explaination for anything you don't understand.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      The difference Interesting is that atheists just wouldn't mention god. A Christian family will almost certainly deliberately teach that god is real, an atheist family would not deliberately teach that god is not real, they just would not talk about it.

      January 10, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  12. truth be told

    The greater evil is found in the unashamed and filthy lies of the so called atheist.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • I Am God

      Filthy lies? Let me guess. You believe the moon landing never happened?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      tbt. What lies would they be?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      ah such hatred will get you a warm afterlife, pack light

      January 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • lamb of dog

      Blah blah blah. Take your meds

      January 10, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • @truth

      wait wait....did you hear that? Is that a talking snake?

      January 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Joe Zamecki

      Here's something people used to have me sing in church, because supposedly Jesus said it: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."

      January 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • niknak

      Don't bother responding to this hateful troll, he won't come back to answer.
      Though if his god is real, he will have to answer for all his hatred when judgement comes.
      Enloy that fiery pit Truth NOT be told.....

      January 10, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  13. QS

    Religion is a corporation like any other, out to make money by selling a product to naive people who buy it up like junkies looking for a fix.

    Open your eyes people and realize that the beliefs you hold so dear are not your own and were forced upon you as a child. The more you buy into the gimmick, the more you contribute to the scam.

    Believe in whatever god you want to, but please detach yourself from this corporation before it consumes all the best parts of you.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • horse fox fish

      I was no forced into a religion. I chose it. They make no money off me because I have none to give them.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • chris

      pretty hard when all they ask if for a prayer. Anyone extorting Christians (and there are PLENTY of them) use people's goodwill against them. Don't blame the belief, blame the corruption.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • End Religion

      hff, you are persona non grata at your church, they just haven't had the heart to tell you yet

      January 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  14. lamb of dog

    Are122 you are delusional.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Morgan King

    I'm not sure painting a historically high (and still rising) percentage of non-religious Americans as being at some sort of apex instead of, much more likely, a generational lull before this all-time large population group – many being younger Americans – start having kids of their own.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  16. Reality

    This should help to cure those still suffering from the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion:

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details are available upon request.

    Please forward this to any of your sick relatives or friends.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  17. NorthVanCan

    Sweden is the least religious place on earth and they are #1 in almost every category worth mentioning.
    Afganistan ........ well, you do the math.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • are122

      Source? And what are they number 1 in (other than blonds)?

      January 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • I Am God

      They are in the top ten of the best economy in the world. They are the number one banking industry of the world. And so on and so forth.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Ted

      What's wrong with that. I believe in blondes. And other colors too.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      As long as the U.S. can stay #1 in big boobs it will remain among the best places to live. Education, not so important.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • heliocracy

      They're also hot.

      January 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  18. bostontola

    As a staunch atheist I strangely like religions. I think their complex and intricate traditions are beautiful to behold. I don't even blame the religions for all the people killed in their name. If religions hadn't formed, people would still have created groups, and thoise groups would have went to war for power and wealth. It's all just a by product of evolution.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • are122

      So how did the physics and laws that govern the universe evolve? Random? Even random needs a basis.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Angel

      are122...uh, no RAndom does not need a basis. Maybe you should look up Random. duh!

      January 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Doug

      "Even random needs a basis". This is based on an assumption that there had to have been a beginning to the universe. Causality determines it. But if you put GOD is as the causality, then you can ask the logically prior question, where did God come from? If you conclude that God is an uncaused 1st cause, then you're bucking the random question by assuming that God has always been here. One can say the same thing about the universe/multiverse. And if the universe has always been here, then the laws of physics have always been around and the question of randomness goes away. Cause and effect Causality works only in a closed system. But if the universe is an open system (eternal) as I have suggested, then a beginning causality is not necessary .

      January 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • JustRight

      @are122 – Are you in third grade? If youve graduated high school i will be shocked and dismayed

      January 10, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  19. are122

    “You can see the religious future of America just by looking at the demographics <~~~ Sheesh, why bother to do that, just look at the news. Kids killing kids, kids fighting in wars, a society that kills 914 kids per day and thinks nothing of it.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'are122' is a Card Stacking fallacy.

      http://fallacyfiles.org

      January 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  20. S. C.

    It's not about what's true or what's false. If you believe in principals stressed by certain religions, such as peace, love, etc., then follow that religion. People who trust in a God are not blind - the majority of them walk with a mind of their own, using religion as a way to guide them. I spend most of my life in Sudan and Uganda, and whether or not religion might be of use to people living sanitary lives, it is to the people I help. They need a guide more than we do, they need something to protect them and raise them. And that something is not the rejection of all things spiritual, but the acceptance of a deity or the principals of peace and love taught by many religions. As everyone has an opinion, I respect the choices made by atheists and agnostics, but those arrogant enough to try and convert others around is a bad move, especially when they are sitting behind a computer screen instead of experiencing life. I nearly gave up my faith, but after doing the things I did and still do today, it is impossible to reject what has gotten me through such times.

    January 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Blue Sox

      Good post. I belong to a community that practices what it preaches – we try to help those in need.

      January 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • blckwdw

      Thank you for such a refreshing post. If only more people could be so accepting of others. Keep your positive light shining. This world needs it more now than ever!

      January 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'They need a guide more than we do, they need something to protect them and raise them. And that something is not the rejection of all things spiritual, but the acceptance of a deity or the principals of peace and love taught by many religions.'

      sorry but how is that view point any different from what you then go on to moan about with
      'but those arrogant enough to try and convert others around is a bad move'

      January 10, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Bad Bob the Albino

      Ok, S.C., Walk your own walk and live your own life. You have the freedom to do that today. 300 years ago and beyond, a man who denied his country's or community's religion was in serious trouble. Stoning, burning at the stake, the rack, etc. Did you know that the Spanish used to pour molten lead into an infidel's ears? These were good Catholics. Thank goodness we can believe what we want in this country. USA USA

      January 10, 2013 at 6:04 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.