The share of Americans who claim no particular religion doubled from 7% to 14% in the 1990s, as sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer reported in an influential 2002 article based on the General Social Survey. A decade later, the Pew Research Center found that one-in-five U.S. adults (and fully a third of those ages 18-30) have no religious affiliation. Despite the rapid growth of the unaffiliated, Gallup editor Frank Newport cited survey data in a recent book to explain why he thinks “God is alive and well” in the United States. These findings raise many questions, including: What are the reasons for the rise of the religiously unaffiliated? Can organized religion thrive in the United States if growing numbers claim no religion? Is America, as a whole, becoming less religious or more religious? And how different, religiously, is the millennial generation from baby boomers and other recent generations?
On Aug. 8, 2013, the Pew Research Center brought together some of the leading experts in survey research on religion in the U.S. for a round-table discussion with journalists, scholars and other stakeholders on the rise of the religious “nones” and other important trends in American religion. The edited transcript is below.
Speakers: Claude Fischer, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley Michael Hout, Professor of Sociology, New York University Frank Newport, Editor-in-Chief, Gallup Greg Smith, Director of U.S. Religion Surveys, Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life Project
Moderator: Alan Cooperman, Deputy Director, Pew Research Center, Religion & Public Life Project
Plan A didn't work out - nothing like not knowing have to navigate with the proposed destination one of the first island nations likely to be claimed by global warming.
She said they wanted to go to Kiribati because "we didn't want to go anywhere big." She said they understood the island to be "one of the least developed countries in the world."
Kiribati is a group of islands just off the equator and the international date line about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The total population is just over 100,000 people of primarily Micronesian descent.
Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don't believe in "abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church," she said.
U.S. "churches aren't their own," Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.
Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being "forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don't agree with."
But Spencer wasn't the only one equating a well supported scientific theory with religion. In a column she wrote for Yahoo, Virginia Heffernan proudly explained why she's a creationist (and she's not inclined to believe in climate change, either). Heffernan has a background in literary criticism, but has been writing about technology and digital media for years. When it comes to matters of science, she's apparently returned to her literary roots.
For Heffernan, scientific understanding is just another narrative. And, when it comes to evolution and climate change, the stories don't appeal to her. Plus, she doesn't happen to like the scientists she's met. Mix that together with a belief that all narratives are equal, she feels it's perfectly fine to choose a non-scientific narrative for these topics. In the case of climate change, this means adopting a Panglossian belief that everything's fine, despite the evidence that it's not. For evolution, she happens to like narratives that include a God, so she's decided she's a creationist.
Now, many people find various narratives about the history of life on Earth extremely compelling. But that turned out to be completely aside from the point. As the outrage poured in on Twitter, Heffernan made it clear that she thought it was quaint that the people supporting science felt that there was an underlying reality that made scientific conclusions more likely to be valid. For her, it was all arbitrary belief, chosen based on personal taste
These people are hypocrites for accepting the fruits of science ...
There has been an atheist church in England for a few years with some popping up in the US. It seems some like the community and even the ritual of church without the spiritual component. This leads to some confusion. Some prefer the notion of a-theism ... the notion of no god or gods. To these folks if atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color and off is a tv channel...
I imagine there will be all types... As the number of the unaffiliated and unchurched (a much larger group than atheists and agnostics) grows, this form of community will grow in popularity.
In the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado Wolf Blitzer pressed a woman on thanking God. It turns out she is an atheist and an uncomfortable moment ensued. Since then several groups have sponsored donations to her so she can rebuilt. At least one on Indiegogo has been very succssful (it blew through a $50k goal very quickly and most of the donations are modest. The rewards for various donation levels are amusing.
Eugenie Scott announced she is retiring from her director role at the National Center for Science Education. It will be difficult to find someone as dedicated and talented. They've often been about the only firewall between real science and creationism in the schools. Extremely important work.
Their big focus has traditionallly been evolution, but they've had to expand to climate change. Creationists are often climate change deniers.