Less US religion

Moderately cheering news on Ruth Gledhill’s Times blog of 28th February. Apparently the US population is becoming more sceptical.

However God is defined, fewer Americans are believing. The Pew Forum’s groundbreaking report, which we cover today, shows a surprising decline in religious affiliation in this most God-fearing nation of all. (From Ruth Gledhill’s blog)

I said “moderately cheering” because the Pew report (whatever that is) has only 1.6% of the US population declaring itself atheist, 2.4 % agnostic and a fair number of people who don’t care, making 16.1% of the population who don’t define themselves as religious. OK, it’s not a huge proportion but it’s an impressive show of rationality, all the same.

It still brings home quite clearly why American atheists sometimes seem to feel part of a beleaguered minority. Posts on the trials and tribulations of being an atheist can seem hard to understand if you live on a more godless continent.

Less cheering, Evangelical Protestants are the largest group at 26.3%, (greatly outnumbering traditional Protestants at a mere 18.1%) followed by Catholics at 23.9%. This explains why candidates are falling over themselves to woo the votes of the congregations. Grab the support of fundies and the Catholic Church and you’d be guaranteed a win.

Interesting that there are more Jehovah’s Witnesses than Muslims in the US, according to this report. Although that may be undercounting the “secret” Muslims, of which there might be a fair number, if US levels of fear of any Muslims are anything to go by.

There is a bizarre God-o-meter chart at Beliefnet. It’s hard to work out the logic behind it but, apparently, getting falsely characterised as a Muslim gets you high points. Scoring low on it seems to mean that you are obviously not a presidential front-runner. I’m European, ffs, I am barely familiar with the names of Clinton, Obama and McCain. and could only pick out two of these in a line-up. And my recognition failure is pretty well an exact replica of their lack of religious identification.

(If the Republican at the bottom of the chart wasn’t from Lawn Order and if I wasn’t an avid TV crime drama viewer, I wouldn’t recognise any of the others at all. )

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