Tuesday, October 09, 2012

20% of Americans Are Affliated with No Religious Group

My backyard

See Survey: One in five Americans has no religion - CNN's article on a survey released Thursday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Note: none of this should be surprising. It's not to me. In my little world of community college teaching over the last 13 years this data rings true. A growing number of students are religiously unaffliliated.

"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."

Yes, many in this group are not actively seeking out religion. But when exposed to it, as they are in my philosophy of religion classes (which are mostly filled with a waiting list), they are extremely interested. It's like they are hearing information they have never been exposed to. They stay after class to talk. They call me and contact me and want to get together. Some even check out my church.

The article goes on to say: "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."

Among the 20% who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated, 42% of that group self-identify as "atheist" or "agnostic." I think that, among that group, many self-refer as atheist or agnostic but, when asked for reasons why they are, cannot give any. At least, they can't formulate reasons for their atheistic or agnostic faith. I assume similiar things can be said of many who self-identify as "Christian."

Religious unaffiliation is one thing. Religiosity is another thing. Answers to the important matters of value and meaning and truth cannot be found - at all - in the currently prevailing and mostly-unreflected scientism (as a God-substitute).

The Big Questions won't be going away.

Click on the chart to enlarge.