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.
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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.
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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.
Reality check. Science has brought us mechanized warfare, eugenics, nerve gas, nuclear weapons, toxic waste, global warming, over population and a thousand other evils.
Who here says science is evil? Science is a tool that can be used for good or for evil. So to with religion. If you don't have the intellectual chops to understand that most things bring good and bad results, you are either mentally unfit or a zealot for your chosen belief system.
Sience is a medium not the source or the destination, nothing more, nothing less, making it of some thing else is hinduism, stupidity of hindu atheist, ignorant self centered.
gorsh – what does that have to do with the veracity of any particular religious belief?
Science brought none of those things. Immoral application of technology did.
Thus Immoral application of religion brought about countless evils as well as good.
Darth, thank you for supporting my point exactly. I assume you now understand.
"Science is a tool that can be used for good or for evil. So to with religion." It's true, a persons imagination can be used for good or evil.
If I go into a gas station and rob them at gunpoint but blame it on my invisible rabbit Harvey, i'm using my imagination for evil.
If I go into a hospital and tell a dying child an amazing story of wonder and joy and light up his face with happiness i'm using my imagination for good.
If I go around telling everyone that they must believe in my Rabbit and only my Rabbit or they will burn in fiery torment for eternity and tell people they must respect my rabbit and pay tlthes to my rabbit and sprinkle water on their babies heads while praying to my rabbit to avoid my rabbits angry wrath, well then I guess the debate is still on as to whether that is evil or not...
When you call people "mentally unfit", etc., because they disagree with your views (whether based on fact in whole, in part, or not at all), you are affirming your support for ideologies such as the "evils" of eugenics, which (by the way) is pseudoscience. You either do not understand to what you referenced in your comment (i.e., you do not understand what eugenics is), or you are just good at sticking your foot in your mouth. What the case, your approach isn't exactly a good way to 'win friends and influence people.'
Good, it's a great lie that has and continues to cause insurmountable suffering to other humans who differ, good riddance.
I don't understand the animosity between both atheist and the religious. They fight over things which have no answer and try to impose their beliefs upon each other. If someones happy believing what they want to believe, let them be. I was personally raised Catholic but could care less about other peoples "salvation". All i try to do is respect others without insulting their beliefs. Hate my friends, is our greatest enemy.
BS. The religious try to impose their beliefs on everyone else. I've never seen a science class in church, but we've all seen Bible class in school. Get real and wake up!
People have a need to be "right". Many people are too insecure to admit what they don't know, and actually give other humans credit for knowing something they do not.
The government is like bread. It's the base we all need for basic safety and security. Religion is like VegeMite and Atheism is like peanut butter. Both can be great on bread when tried at home. But if someone attempted to spread VegeMite on everyone elses bread those who can't stand it would have every right to yell and scream. And likewise, spreading peanut butter on everyone bread would likely hospitalize a quater of the nation from nut allergies. So the only sollution is to leave your spread of choice off everyone elses bread! It makes so much sense it hurts sometimes that people just don't fvcking get it.
You might want to start off by realizing that there is much more in the world than just "atheist and religious groups."
Just brainstorming here, but what if they made the god more believable...less Iron Age bat sith crazy and childish...more...cool...maybe someone alive, but popular, like Morgan Freeman?
Too old, we need someone young, hip, you know? Someone who can jive with the kids ;D
Maybe Niki Manaj? She seems right-wing enough for Focus on the Family, but she does the rap stuff the kids like.
Russell Brand kind of has a Jesus thing going on...
Excellent Read for all atheist.
I can tell by the link that that is utter BS.
Came from newsweek.
As an endocrinologist on the verge of becoming and Atheist, I just want to add that quack should be locked in a closet, a way from a computer.
Dr. Mary Williams..........Doc you angry?
The medication or the possibility of him hallucinating don't play into this at all, really? I've heard of many people dying and once revived remember nothing. This article is nothing more than someone trying to make a dollar off of people's hopes. If a 4-year old boy can write a best-selling book about heaven, let's have a doctor write one too! We'll make millions!
Dr. Mary Williams..........Dr. Eben Alexander has been a neurosurgeon for the past 25 years. His book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, will be published by Simon & Schuster on Oct. 23, 2012.
25 years and counting as a neurosurgeon. Hardly a quack!
OMG how moving, I am an agnostic but these are the kind of proof I need to be able to believe, this mans story is beautiful and I researched him to find that he is credible and trust worthy. I am not yet a believer but the evidence suggests the chances are higher there is a God then there is not.
@Atheist Hunter, Dr. Alexander has a past of lying
Look at the last entry
@John – shut the fvck up Atheist Hunter, you are not fooling anyone.
I'll make a deal with you. I'll go read that article if you can cite for me one single piece of EMPIRICAL evidence of it's validity. Not the person's supposition, anecdote, selective perception, wishful thinking, or personal incredulity, but EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.
People want their own relationship with God, not a relationship based on what ancient people thousands of years ago thought, as we have nothing in common with them or their time.
people are growing up - they don't need fairy tales anymore.
Groucho, folks don't want religion at all. As older more religious generations die out, so will religion. Younger people are smarter and more realistic about the myths of yesteryear. No Santa, no Tooth Fairy, no God, no Jesus, etc.
I take it you are speaking for yourself?
Religion is a burden to societies all over the world. People need to learn to read the Quran and Bible as a guide as to how to be a better indivdual, help your neighbor, love your family, and be a fair and honest person. People who take these old religious writings seriously to the point it causes them to think that certain types of people can't be married, and other people (infidels) most be erased from existance due to different life styles and views will only hinder human progression.
Society needs to continuously evolve, religion inhibits this process.
Bigamy, infidelity to truth absolute, constant is hinduism, denial of truth absolute and hinduism, corruption of truth absolute, constant GOD has no place civility.
@Eric you are right Jesus Christ don't change the society changes, we have to live our lives according to the Bible. Not the Bible changing for us.
Hooray for free thinking! And all praise the Frontal Lobe. We owe all we have to it.
Religion and Faith are two different things. Religion is to Faith, as Laws are to Justice. One is man made to seek after the other, and the other is a perfect ideal, never fully attainable by Man. You'll find a great many people of Faith in God that have given up on Religion. But it does not mean that they are without Belief.
Humans are capable of enjoying "godless" lives when they envision themselves as more "godlike"; not as 'creator/savior god' but as inspired people who do things that are morally praiseworthy but not necessarily morally obligatory.
Superbole...You just described true Satanism to a tee.
@John – an agnostic accusing someone of being like Satan? Hmmmm?
people who've read the bible know what a murderous, megalomaniacal, genocidal freak-job god is. he drowns babies in his great flood. BABIES. how can anyone worship a baby killer?
God can do those things because he is sovereign. Jesus and his armies will kill many, many more people when he returns.
MM: Do you not think that your comment make your imaginary friends even less appealing?
So jesus is to return as some sort of holy general? LOLOLOLOLOL and lol.
"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross."
– Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922
Doc... scary isn't it? A lot of Christians don't recognize that Hitler's Nazis saw themselves as Christian soldiers. I wonder what would happen if Christians were required as are Germans to teach their children about that aspect of our world history to their children.
superbole...ever heard of bonhoeffer? you can't blame religion, only people
God has no obligation to be a appealing to you...Im agnostic and even I can see that if he exists all is for a purpose and as his creation your questioning of him is ridiculous.
"Im agnostic and even I can see that if he exists all is for a purpose and as his creation your questioning of him is ridiculous."
John, your not agnostic just because you throw an "if" in there. You are trying to be an agnostic poe but doing a very poor job of it.
As a Christian I do think the church has made alot of mistakes and portrayed Christianity in a bad light...for true Christianity all you have to do is look at the early church...thats what Jesus wanted and thats not what we have today
Christians expend a good deal of energy trying to rationalize why reality isn't what their beliefs tell them it should be.
By "early church" you mean before the church right? Jesus was always outside somewhere. Where does it ever say you hve to attend some edifice every sabbath?
@Quoting, and why should anyone care about what Jesus wanted???
Lee S – When people use the word "church" they aren't always referring to a physical building. They are referring to a set of doctrines. At least that is how the word is sometimes used in my religion.
@alip, is that what they tell you in church? Derp.
"true Christianity all you have to do is look at the early church...thats what Jesus wanted and thats not what we have today"
So the son of god goes to the middle east and makes no mention of peoples on other continents of the world much less visits them.
That would make your Jesus a racist god would it not?
Lee S – Just clarifying what he probably meant by the word "church". It is a common misunderstanding. I did learn that at church. A church I chose to join after a lot of thought, life experience and prayer. No need to attack religious people because they are different than you.
Do not have religion but I have faith
Me to and alot of people dont understand that
have faith in people, your mate, your family , your friends...
have faith in love, compassion and understanding...
have faith in science to reveal the world around us....
just don't have faith in an invisible sky-fairy that isn't really there. that would be a waste of time.
Bootyfunk – I do have faith in my family, friends and occasionally in science (it is an imperfect system afterall because it is created by imperfect people), but I also have faith in God. You can have both. I don't think it is always easy to have faith in God, but it is well worth it. I hope that you change your mind some day about it being a fantasy because I know that it isn't
Faith is the enemy, it's just another name for gullibility.
Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important, because without it there's no mutual component to your relationship, and relationships are important. So faith plays an important role, but faith in people you don't know, faith in religious or political leaders or even people on stages, people who are popular in the public eye, you shouldn't have faith in those people. You should listen to what they have to say and use it. It might give you some ideas on how to view the world, but ultimately you have to base your views on evidence. Evidence comes from your own eyes and ears."
– Dr. Greg Graffin
Bootyfunk, while I am not religious per se, I think it should be respected more. All the things you list to have faith in are very transitory. Mate – Divorce rate is mammoth. Family – I can't even list all the people I know who have long term conflicts running in their families. Friends – They come and go all through life. And let's not forget to throw in death. It may be irrational to some degree to believe in God...but I think it is a logical course of action to fill a very real need that some people have. You are never going to find something permenant on this earth. If belief gives someone a feeling of stability or comfort in their lives that the world does not have the capability to provide, then attacking it is cruel. And for what reason...to be right? To help them? Telling yourself you are helping someone while being cruel is one of the oldest justifications on record for terrible behavior. Everyone uses it...religious and non-religious people.
IslandAthiest – Why attack people who have faith? Why do you care? I am sure I could dredge up all sorts of criticisms for an individual who is an atheist, but I choose not to because, well, that is there choice and I respect that. All that anger just keeps us from learning from one another.
I understand. The only difference seems to be that I choose to call it "hope" rather than the religiously charged word "faith." I have hope that there is a benevolent creator out there and that there is an ultimate standard of justice in the universe.
@Ali P: "IslandAthiest – Why attack people who have faith? Why do you care?"
I care because most of them want to codify some of their beliefs into law. Many of them use their beliefs to justify fomenting hatred for people who do not share their beliefs. There are a lot of Christians, for example, who are anti-Mormon, anti-atheist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and so on.
I also have an issue with people being so willing to be so certain about things for which there is not only evidence, but no real reason to believe it in the first place. This willingness to accept beliefs on faith is essential to and hence encouraged by religion. People are taught that to believe something without evidence — and even at times in spite of evidence, logic, and reason — is superior to basing what you believe on facts and evidence, and this mindset ends up infecting how people think in other realms.
There is an enormous problem in politics stemming from the fact that too many people treat it as it if it too is a religion and believe a lot of things for which there is no evidence whatsoever, or even in spite of the evidence and logic. For example, there are millions, perhaps tens of millions of people who believe things about our president that have no basis in fact whatsoever, and that often run contrary to evidence and sound logic, but they choose to believe them anyway.
In politics people are often convinced they don't need to base their positions on facts, logic or reason, they just need to believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. Faith is all they need. Politics becomes religion with the goal of imposing your beliefs on the masses by winning elections. It's a truly stupid way to run a country.
It appears most people who worship a god, worship one that is very similar to their own temperament.
You will live forever wether you want to our not.....alwasy remember that...and for you who say believing in Jesus is about fear and control of people...then you have alot to learn about Jesus...
That is just the problem, we have been learning about Jesus from you guys that claim to know about him and we don't like it. Jesus may be a fine fellow but Christians, not so much.
When you die, that's the end of you, whether you want to believe it or not. At some level even the vast majority of Christians believe this, else why would they fight so hard to stave off death? If Christians really believe something better awaits us after death, why would they do everything possible to prolong the life of someone who is clearly dying and has no quality of life now?
Woo Hoo! The number of Catholics is stable. We aren't going anywhere! The heretic protestant churches are in decline, but the true Church is still going strong.
Keep in mind Chester that this is reporting about the U.S. only. All too often we think we are all that matters but these numbers have nothing to do with what his going on in the larger world.
Science has brought us mechanized warfare, eugenics, nerve gas, nuclear weapons, toxic waste, global warming, over population and a thousand other evils.
Who here says science is evil? Science is a tool that can be used for good or for evil. So to with religion. If you don't have the intellectual chops to understand that most things bring good and bad results, you are either mentally unfit or a zealot for your chosen belief system.
Chester: Supporting a group that protects pedophiles does not say much for you as a person!
@gorsch, unfortunately religion is aimed mostly at the brainless and disenfranchised masses who already cant think for themselves. Science usually appeals to those who think for themselves. Those who wish to use the fruits of scientific endeavors for evil, usually do so in the name of some god or religon. IE suicide bombers. Need I say more?
Lee S – I know so many scientists that believe in a higher power....mostly because their research has humbled them and convinced them of what they don't know regardless of how intelligent or established academically they have become. Why are you so angry with people who are religious that you call them unthinking masses? Disagree by all means, but why all that bitterness? Also, intellect is not what helps someone gain a relationship with God so why should we assume that scientists would have better access to Him and whether He exists than a non-scientist......
I shake my head at the common mantra that people's religious beliefs should be kept to themselves. Do we try to require that of any other beliefs we hold? Of course, no one should be trying to force their views on anyone else. But to try to set it up as, "You can believe it but NEVER speak of it" is simply not viable. We should not be threatened by hearing and discussing other people's belief systems. And if you run into the person who wants to force his/her views on you – walk away and disengage. We have so much to learn from one another. Our world needs people talking more about their beliefs to one another – not less.
Agreed. Debate is crucial for a healthy society. As long as that accepts me debating with you my rational for non belief and being adult about it, Im all for ya. Perhaps we could even turn you to our side 🙂
I could not agree more! Thank you for posting this!
The reason why the younger folks are generally siding with no beliefs because the youth is simply becoming more aware of the fact that they can choose whatever belief system they want. For example, the reason why I don't have a religion is because I simply need solid proof in order to be able to believe in a sort of "God". I am 16 years old and my friends and I, unlike many other folks our age, have many debates on religion and its affects and beliefs every single day, because it's becoming increasingly popular among our age group.
"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." This is neither a boon to atheists nor a boon to Evangelicals or other groups within established churches. This simply reflects the mindset of most Americans who prefer to not have Atheists or Religious groups intimidate them to believe or not believe. They simply choose from what floats their boat.
The fear of hell is intimidation from the religious.
Is logic the intimidation of athiests?
Please don't equate the two.
Logic does not support atheism or theism. To argue either without support is illogical bordering on inane.
Athiesm is the lack of belief in a god. This comes about directly from the logic that without proof there is no sense in believing.
You can't equate the two. Rational thinking is not intimidation.
It's still psychology. When you use logic you should also use wisdom as well. Name calling to the religious (Which occurs frequently on the Belief blog) does little to persuade the religious in the same way that threatening hell does little to pursude the non-religious. Not all atheists are the same but trolls abound here.
But stick to the point. You can't equate rational thinking used to persuade with threats of eternal hell. You have to admit that.
Happy, atheism is the belief that there is no god. The attempts to rephrase it to encompass agnosticism are just language manipulation. To believe something without proof is illogical. I am an agnostic, not atheist.
I give up. You won't address the point.
@Happy Jack: The problem is not just lack of proof. At least as important is the fact that there is no reason to even look for proof. There are no phenomena that can only be explained by the existence of a God who would be responsible. Believers would point to our existence, but claiming God created the universe just kicks the can down the road, because then you're left with the question, what created God?
It seems more reasonable to me to have one unanswered question — how was the universe created — than the plethora of unanswered questions generated by a belief in God, not the least of which is who or what created God?
Here is my point. The uses of the words 'logic' and 'reason' are tags that are used by anyone to support an ideology. Even Christian apologists believe that logic and reason support their theology. Truthers also believe that logic and reason support their claims that 9/11 was an inside job. I'm sure atheists can use or misuse the terms as well. Specifically when atheists say they use logic and reason can we question their logic and reason or are we simply supposed to stop and not question their conclusions simply because they use the words logic and reason?
Please explain how not believing in something is an "ideology" ?
You do not need to label yourself before you pray to God.
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, advised everyone to pray in private, each to keep piety a private matter, not a matter to shout on the street corners because to shout one's piety in public, as is done so openly and with such fanfare today by organized religions, is the mark of the hypocrite.
Why dress up in finery and go to an opulent cathedral to watch others in richly decorated expensive robes perform rituals and speak in unknown languages when you could seek the privacy of a quiet place and pray by yourself or with your loved ones?
Why join organized religions that now politicize their churches openly?
I agree that you don't need to label yourself in order to pray or worship God. There is value, however, in congregating with others who have similar beliefs to you that are outside of your immediate family and friends. The church that I affiliate with creates an extremely strong network of support wherever I go. I can move to a new city and not know anyone, but I can call members of my church in that area and they will help me move. We have a system where every member is visited each month by other members to ensure that everyone is taken care of. I have felt so loved by the people I congregate with and I think that people fail to see the positive side of attending a church in this regard. Everyone is so quick to criticize and that is unfortunate.
You don't need to believe a narrative for which there is no evidence whatsoever.
But on CNN Faith Blog 90 % of the posters are followers of the religion of Atheism.
so, you said this on page one. This is hardly insightful enough to be worthy of multiple posts.
Get used to it.
Are you saying you have been reading all the posts since page one? A bit obsessive, don't you think?
You need to get back to work "I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV" and stop surfing the net on company time.
46 pages of this crap? Surely you jest?
Clearly @MennoKnight and I coincidentally were here at the same time – last night and today.
@MennoKnight, perhaps you should heed your own advice – or contribute somehting new to the discussion.
Am I to understand that if I believe something doesn't exist because there is no reason to believe it exists, that makes me part of a religion? If atheism is the religion of people who don't believe in God, what are the religions of people who don't believe in leprechauns, bigfoot, Santa Claus, and alien abductions?
Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the absence of religion.
I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV:
I am joking with you. I am doing Exactly what I accused you of doing. 🙂
I wasn't online yesterday to respond
Everyone put their faith in something
I put my faith in the eye witness accounts of Jesus as were written in the New Testament.
I have seen the power of those words through transformed lives, making people who were once selfish and now humble and giving. Drug dealers and addicts restored to their families.
and of course your assertion that I need to get back to work was accurate! 😉
By the way – I don't and won't argue your estimate of 90%. I don't know what the actual number is but it is overwhelmingly not 'traditional' believers.
I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
That makes you a Hypocrite...
...As am I.... 🙁
Hey! That is the Universal Human Religion!!! Hypocrisy!!!
Ok, back to work, coffee break is LONG done.
Most of them are trolls trying to tick people off.
@Citrus: "Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the absence of religion."
Atheism, in and of itself, is not a religion anymore than theism is. The ONLY thing that atheism implies is that one lacks a belief in a god or gods. That's it. Period. Nothing more.
That said, there ARE atheistic religions–in that they are religions that are not centered around god-beings. There ARE atheists who believe in other supernatural forces and phenomena, including things like reincarnation, spirituality and spiritual planes, and even afterlives (though not afterlives overseen by a god or gods).
Being atheist does NOT mean that one has no form of spirituality, nor does it mean that one is not religious. It ONLY means that one does not believe in a god or gods and that any form of spirituality or religion they might have would reflect that.