Friday, April 03, 2009


The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has some thought provoking data on "non-believers" vs. "atheists".

April 2, 2009

American Atheists, a group that advocates on behalf of atheists in the U.S., will hold its national convention later this month. According to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, 5% of American adults say they do not believe in God or a universal spirit, but only about a quarter (24%) of these nonbelievers actually call themselves atheists.

Disbelief in God

I argued in a previous post that atheism as an ideological movement has not been particularly successful. While it is not clear from this data who these "non-believers" who don't identify as atheists are, it is interesting that the so called "new-atheism" has not succeeded in convincing even people who don't believe in God or a universal spirit to embrace an atheist identity. I'm also reminded of the recent survey on American Religious Identification that found that a significant percentage of Americans do not identify with any faith. Perhaps the non-believers who are rejecting the "atheist" label are similar to the people who are rejecting religious labels in the sense that they are making a distinction between "ideas" and "identity"? What all this means for religion in America remains to be seen but it is certainly interesting!

"segments of society embrace the implications of the oneness of humankind, not only as the inevitable next step in the advancement of civilization, but as the fulfilment of lesser identities of every kind that our race brings to this critical moment in our collective history."
(The Universal House of Justice, 2002 April, To the World's Religious Leaders, p. 3)


  1. "Okay so you don't believe in God or a Universal Spirit. So are you an Atheist?"
    "No. I'm not a believer ... but I'm not a jerk about it."

    It's like Mr. Faizi said, "I don't believe in the God you don't believe in."

  2. Hi Phillipe,
    I always find it interesting to see what's going on in the religious landscape! As I believe I commented on an earlier post, although these trends may on the surface seem discouraging, I think it means people are really questioning their religious assumptions and making up their own minds about what they believe and how they want to live. For many this may mean a rejection of a path they may have been raised with. Some people are finding the old ideas don't seem to fit anymore in our modern, scientific, multicultural world. It's interesting to watch it all unfold!

  3. hey my name is cecil baker and i am atheist. I have been atheist for 12 years and that is what i used my own mind to decide and if i go to some hell for beleiving it so be it. but i do believe in not interferring with other people's lives with thing's that i believe in and i exspect the same from thoughs with othere faith's or religion. but it is not alway's like that as all of you know. alot of people try to interfer with every one's live's trying to shove there belief's in other people's faces i'm just one of the atheist in america say's let you'r belief's be your own. don't follow what other people tells you to believe. just follow your own thoughts and opionions. don't let any one push you into something you don't agree with!

    By:Cecil Baker

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Cecil.