Atheists, agnostics, and political Christians 21

According to Penn Jillette, writing in the Los Angeles Times, non-believers may be more numerous than adherents of any particular religious sect in America:

Atheists are growing way fast, from under 2% to about 8% just in this century. If you throw in self-labeled agnostics and those who identify as not religious, you’re getting up to around 20%. Evangelicals are about 26%, Catholics about 23%, Jews, 1.7%, Mormons also 1.7% — if you start breaking Christians up into their smaller groups, nonbelievers come close to being the dominant religion, if you can call no religion a religion, like calling not collecting stamps a hobby.

We hope it is true, and we think it may be. We also suspect that a great many individuals who claim membership of this or that denomination are privately skeptical about the beliefs it teaches.

The main theme of Penn Jillette’s article is conjecture as to why politicians compulsively declare themselves generic “Christians”, preferring not to name the particular sect they belong to; with special reference to presidential candidates Bachmann and Perry:

When I was a kid, politicians wanted to avoid talking about religion if they could. John F. Kennedy couldn’t duck the issue, being Catholic and all. So how did he address it? By reminding Americans that religion shouldn’t be an issue, that he was concentrating on big things like poverty and hunger and leading the space race. When he finally got around to talking about religion, here’s what he said: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” Can you imagine a presidential candidate talking that way today?

“Freethinkers,” a great book by Susan Jacoby, explained that the modern use of the word Christian was pushed to fight Roe vs. Wade. The anti-choice people wanted a big-tent word for the religious objection to abortion, and that meant they had to bring all the Protestants and Catholics together if they wanted to claim God for their team. The word Christian did that.

Since then, religion and politics have gotten ever more entwined. Jimmy Carter happily identified as born-again, and that phrase and the magic word Christian started to be used more and more. One American president who mentioned religion constantly and seemed to appear in a different church every time you blinked was Bill Clinton. Slick Willy really rammed home the idea of Christian. He was a church slut, not caring what church he appeared in as long as he was seen at a church.

And, now, we come to Bachmann and Perry.

I’ve used pornographic images, obscenity and poetry to try to make even the most doubtful blush, but I’ve never come close to Bachmann’s insult to the gentle, honest faithful when she said the suffering and casualties of natural disasters were her God’s message to wayward politicians. What she said was disgusting

And stupid.

Bachmann was a longtime member of the Salem Lutheran Church, a small denomination that has some odd teachings. But even in the broadest definition of Lutherans, there are only about 13.5 million, and that’s not enough to elect you president. Now Bachmann has moved to Eagle Brook, an evangelical church, but even if she wins all the evangelical vote, that gives her only 26.3% of the American people. With those percentages, you need to shut up about religion. …

Perry is the same deal. Perry has moved away from his Methodist background … and moved to the Lake Hills Baptist Church, which went on to drop the word Baptist to be more inclusive. When Perry did his big apolitical political rally in August, he was very careful to call it nondenominational. It was Christian. Now let’s watch Mitt Romney as he works on trying to convince Americans that his sect, with its magic underwear and its belief that the Garden of Eden was in North America, really is just another Christian offshoot.

All interesting stuff. Fatuous beliefs promoting or hampering serious political purposes.

But what we find most interesting in the article is the possible numerical predominance of atheists and agnostics*.

Most of them are likely to be on the political left, but among so many there must be a fair number of conservatives.

May they find our site!

*Agnostics: atheists wearing an intellectual condom? 

(Hat tip Frank for the link.)

  • Anonymous

    You tell me your religion, and I’ll tell you why you’re an irrational nut.

    • George

      They actually think that we are irrational nuts because we don’t believe in the invisible , imaginary , formless, indescribable  Daddy In The Sky.   Here we are living in a modern day era of advanced science and technology and the  Space  Age and yet we still have grown-up adults still worshiping and believing in ancient  superstitions  and mythologies .  Religion doesn’t teach people to think. It only teaches people to believe blindly by “blind acceptance ” via indoctrination   aka–FAITH.   Religious zealots can’t stand any criticism of their FAITH BASED BELIEFS but they have absolutely no qualms whatsoever in bashing everyone and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to  THEIR beliefs.   These gullible and delusional  individuals actually think that they are so enlightened by quoting verses from ancient so-called “holy books ”  which they were indoctrinated into believing in since childhood.  Organized religions have NO tolerance of other beliefs  ( especially secular beliefs).   This is the power of theological brainwashing. They actually believe they are so smart , intelligent  and wise because they have “swallowed” this cartoon-character fairy tale ancient dogma and folklore.   The top religious beliefs ( Abrahamic religions )  actually preach to their “flock” to not accept any form of  logical thinking , analytical inquiry, common sense ( or rather UNCOMMON good sense ) ,  rational thought, reason ,  and  to question and demand answers for whatever we are taught. 
                             It’s believe and obey !   It’s believe and follow !   It’s believe and don’t question !  It’s believe and accept blindly without thinking !  It’s believe and attack anyone and everyone who doesn’t jump on the delusional indoctrinated bandwagon .   Gullible is what gullible believes !!!

      • Anonymous

        The fact that there is no evidence of any god or gods should be enough to dissuade people.  But then, these religions that claim that there are such persons with connections to god known as prophets, that is sillier still.  If god won’t talk to me directly, then screw him.  Don’t need no prophets to intercede.
        And worse, virtually every prophet from every religion is a certifiable nut job . . . from Abraham, the would-be child-killer who heard voices telling him to kill his son, to Muhammed, the pedophile and jew-hater, to the modern era prophets who founded mormonism.
        All wack jobs.  As you say, George, all so very, insanely gullible.

  • Andrew M

    Religion can mutate to support whatever pet cause its adherents need it to signify at the time. This is because it only connects to the real world through the human imagination, and only then through heavily limited imaginations. This sudden spike in evangelism which disgusts me and many others my age, I predict, may be its last stand for a long, long time. Christianity is a flaccid force which is trying mighty hard to re-erect its pillars, but even if it succeeds, they will surely collapse on their own structural impotence.

    On the other hand, we should be far more worried about the meager but meteoric rise in the respect accorded to that heavily Arabized version of Judeo-Christianity sweeping the nation by storms of immolating jet engine fuel. If Keith Ellison can make his oath of office on the very Quran used by Thomas Jefferson to study the belief system of the Barbary Coast pirates who first harassed the post-revolutionary America, the most informed members of our electorate must work overtime to prevent the election of even more rug-ruffling oafs into office.

    A large part of this country still has no clue how scary Islam is. No matter how asinine and dangerous Christianity gets in its days of desperation, Islam always proves more destructive and miserable. Worse yet, it firmly envisions itself as a resurgent power, ready to take down the paper tiger that is called America.

    If that is so, we at TAC are the steel balls of that tiger. I am not giving up to Islam without a fight, and I don’t need the “help” of my neighbor’s rosary either! I’ll gladly enjoy your döner kebabs, but you can keep your side of jihad and leave it in the Sharia hellholes of your ancestors. Make peace, or we will make war like you’ve never seen before. The choice is yours – and while you’re deciding, we’ll educate your miserable women about all the things they’re missing out on, and may they rise up and claim their bodies. Their rights, and yours, will surely follow.

    • George

      HIGH FIVE   Andrew  !!!!!     Well put !

  • Liz

    Its great to hear that the percentage of  non- religious people is growing, but I’m not going to hold my breath.  Paine and Jefferson envisioned the spread of Deism and Enlightenment among their posterity, and look what happened. Religion re-engulfed the nation in waves, drowning out so much of what they had established in the realm of ideas.  It seems to have re-emerged a bit with Kennedy endorsing the separation of church and state, but as this article points out, that has become politically incorrect now. 
     I hope we’re due for a swing of the pendulum back in a rational direction, but we’d better make the most of it, because it probably won’t stay there long.  The religion that replaces it will probably be the worship of solar panels and windmills, if the barbarian hordes don’t take over first.

    • George

      Only time wil tell Liz.    We’ll just continue to let our voices be heard and hope that people will open their minds and wake up . It’s an uphill battle , but a battle well worth the fight for the true freedom of the world. 

  • Harold

    “We also suspect that a great many individuals who claim membership of this or that denomination are privately skeptical about the beliefs it teaches.”  This is very true – I think very many Christians are skeptical about miracles etc.  many religious people say they are a member of a church because of social reasons, and “truth” has little to do with it.
     The more public acknowledgement of Atheism there is, the easier it will be for people who have no real belief to say it openly.

    • George

      Thanks Harold ——- I agree !

    • George

      Harold, for the record I went  to reply to your post below of 1 day ago and mistakenly clicked on [like]  regarding when you said you were replying to Consvltvs posted comment, but no biggie [ Jillian can confirm this from her control panel ].  There was only one “response “tag”  below the post. . As I stated I am all for saving the planet and cleaning up our environment but there are so many scam  artists out there in this global warming fiasco.   I went to the new article [  Scientists betraying scientists  ]  to see your opinion of that article but the comments were closed. I was just curious to see your thoughts on that article.  Maybe later.  Take care .  Oh by the way–your previous post before that I agreed with and I posted such. I’m gonna go have an ice cold  beer. 

  • The percentage of the population that is actually among the doubters is probably larger than reported–agreed.  As for the use of the terms “atheist” and “agnostic,” I’ve always said I’m both.  I’m an atheist (nonbeliever) because I don’t have any evidence for God’s existence (agnostic comes from a-gnosis, not knowing).  In the absence of evidence it’s a mistake to believe.  Recently, I’ve thought of another way to describe things.  Regarding any god I’ve ever heard of I’m an atheist.  Regarding some unknowable creator of the multiverse I’m an agnostic (“unknowable” after all).  Sometimes, I think if there is a god then he must be pretty nasty.  Let’s call that “dystheism”.

    • George

      The deists believed that it may have been some supernatural being that brought all into existence and hen after having done the so-caleld ceation  , the supernatural being abandoned the creation and allowed all that was originally formed to exist  and thrive on it’s own.  What isn’t explained is –where did the supernatural being come from ? Who created GOD ? If GOD always existed as the  Christians say , then that refutes the assertion by  Christians that EVERYTHING has a beginning. Amazing how the Christians  invoke the exclusionary rule all of a sudden when  it comes to THEIR supposed deity.    If the supposed GOD created  everything and formed the universe and galaxies and life and matter —–then where did the matter come from ?   How can an invisible being that has no form, color, is not composed of matter , nor can be described create anything ? How can a being without hands or a brain create or form or fashion anything ?  So then the Christians are saying the GOD created matter out of nothing if at first there was nothing but a vacuum or void of empty space .  What was GOD doing prior to the creation —-sleeping in all the eternity of time in an eternity of godly hybernation prior to the creation then all of a sudden awakened and said —darn , I think I’ll create something just to break the boredom ?
                          Furthermore how can any human know what happened zillions of light years ago ?     How can anyone write a book and describe what was at any beginning a gazillion years ago when humans were not around to witness or see what happened or record what happened ? It’s all a supposition or a “what if ? ” conjecture .   Man has always invented gods and the top three Abrahamic religions are no different.  All their adherents believs as indoctrinated that only their belief is right and everyone else is wrong. This is the power of theological brainwashing.     The word FAITH –means [ blind acceptance ].  FAITH believers cannot prove, substantiate , verify or support theur claims.  It’s all based on what they have been staunchly indoctrinated to accept blindly.    Amazing how many hundreds of millions ( if not billions ) of  people base  their lives on an ancient book, superstions , mythologies, ancient folklore , ancient rituals and indoctrinated theological fairy tales.
                         What’s even more amazing is that these people actually believe that they are so enlightened , wise, smart , intelligent and oh yes—SAVED !   No one has seen any heaven or hell. All the so-called “miracles ” are ancient and claimed but there is no modern day “miracles “. When the Airbus jetlinere made a crash landing on the Potomac River after having a duel flameout due to a massive bird strike ,   the  Christian fundies  all went around talking about how it was a miracle thatb the people survived  , as if some supernatural giant hand reached down from out of the sky and gently let the plane land safe on the water.  The freaking  plane landed safely because of circumstances that a calm smooth surface river was close by , and they had  a well skilled and well trained professional pilot and a well built aircraft with good floatation due to a well sealed cabin.  If a miracle caused them to be safe , then why didn’t this deity (GOD ) save the people on  Sept. 11, 2001 from those four hijacked jetliners  and the twin towers ?  Duhhhh !! If there is a GOD then  he/she/it   isn’t worth a crap.    Certainly NOT a savior , that’s for sure.  Where  was GOD during the  Bubonic Plague , The Spanish Flu , Hurricane  Katrina , the tsunami in Asia , the earthquakes in  California, Mt St Helens volcanic eruption,  the tornado devastation all in the midwest,  natural caused forrest fires, lightning strikes—— ?   Oh gee,  I forgot  , those were all ACTS OF GOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   If someone did prove to me that such a being exists , I still would not only  NOT worship such a being , I would spit on, urinate on and defacate on such a being .  Such a being is not worthy of any praise but only ridicule , loathing , condemnation and scorn.
                       Religionists still don’t understand that atheists don’t hate GOD. You can’t hate something you don’t believe exists in the first place. That would be like an atheist  accusing a religious person of hating the Tooth Fairy.  It’s an impossibility and an absurdity !!!!!!!

      • George

        I’ve got to get a new aircard and ISP service.   This crappy  thing boots me offline after a few minutes idle and no web-surfing and then I have to type fast as heck and make a bunch of typos to keep from being kicked offline. It’s frustrating  as all get-out.  It will improve when I get my new service , but you get the meaning anyway. As I stated ——–religion is all [ make believe ] and mind control.  We need to become more and more assertive as secular rational freethinkers and open the minds of people from that of MENTAL SLAVERY   !!! 

    • Harold

      This is a very good distinction.  Religious advocates often argue that God exists because of, for example, fine tuning of physical constants, or the origin of the universe, which science cannot yet fully explain.  They then seem to conclude that this backs up their particular version of paternal supernatural being who is interested in their lives.   It is important to differntiate between “something exists that was the prime cause of the universe, that thing I will call God” and “The God of the Bible (or other holy book) exists”

      Off topic – I was interested to continue the debate re global warming on your blog, but seem unable to post. 

      • George

        Harold, I’m still trying to figure out what you mean about “debate on global warming” .   if your premise is that humans do indeed have an effect upon our environment then we certainly have N asrgument there.   No one is denying this. Whatmany are saying here is that this “global warming” fiasco  has become political and much of the claims are indeed fraudulent.  What are you debating ?   Are you saying that the ice caps are melting away and our global world society is going to have a massive world wide permanent heat wave because of people driving big SUV’s or business executives are taking trips in their corporate jets ?  What exactly ar you debating here ?   Be specific  and forget the generalities.   Are you saying that humans are polluting the environment  ?  I agree.   Are you saying that pollutants are being introduced into our air, soil, and water supply ? I agree.  Are you saying that a large portion of our rainforrests are being depleted ?  I agree.   What exactly are you debating ?  I am trying to avoid any type of argumentative  position here and that is NOT my style.  My question is simply to be inquisitive at where you stand and what is exactly your point , question or gripe if any ?
              yes , there is propaganda on both sides but my original point still stands and that is that many who have pushed the “global warming agenda ” have been outed for being scam artists pushing this agenda for political reasons and NO this does not deny the impact that we humans do indeed have upon our environment. i’m trying to understand why you have such an obsession on the “global warming issue “. 
                     As I stated before Harold  , my comments before on this matter came from scientists and investigative reporters who researched this matter further and in depth and did inded find an overwhelming amout of deceitfiul fraud on the issue for political left wing propaganda promoting.    This doesn’t make the issue conclusive but it does indeed point out the massive amout of fraud and deceit on the issue . This didn’t come from ME , but has been uncovered by “whistle blower” scientist from within who came out and publicly admitted such.   There has indeed been a massive coverup and dubious agenda on this fiasco and it still continues.   Now , having said this and you disagree with this , then your argument is with the scientists themselves who have uncovered this and publicly came out and reported on the eceitful scandal  . If you disagree , then take up the argument with them ( the scientists )  –NOT WITH US . I’m wondering if you’re just trying to argumentative just for the sake of arguing. I have NO argument with anyone ( including yourself ).   I’m only reciting and reporting what the ‘whistle blower” scientists themselves have submitted . As I stated before , if you disagree with this then YOUR argument is with THEM   !!!!!!!!!!!

        • George

          Please again pardon my typos.  I am going to change to a need ISP aircard because this cheapo IP kicks me offline after a few minutes even on a discussion forum and I believe its a defective flaw. I have to type at lightning speed just to get as much in without time to proof-read.  It’s frustrating  and I’ve got to get another . Pardon the errors. Anyway , I love this discussion forum because it engages people into constructive and logical thinking. In addition , it is well informative and eye opening and consists of much needed rational dialogue. 

        • Harold

          George, I was refering specifically to Consvltvs’s blog, where he continued a discussion from here.  There was a post from Dan Pangburn, which I have some specific replies to.

          On a general note, I believe that the climate is warming, and that if CO2 emmissions continue the warming is likely to reach a point where the consequences will be very serious, and very expensive in cash and lives.  I believe it will be cheaper to reduce emmissions now than to deal with the consequences later.

          The Arctic icecap is melting.  Greenland ice is melting, but it will not colapse anytime soon..

          I am also very interested in why many people find any information that suggests that warming is not caused by man convincing, whereas they do not find well researched and reviewed information that it IS caused by man unconvincing.  The Pangburn equation is a case in point.  It appears to add nothing to the knowledge of climate change, yet it was received by Consvltus as good data and logical analysis.  I was hoping to discuss this with Dan Pangburn, in case I have misunderstood.

      • George

        Harold I am the one who ‘clicked on  [‘  LIKE  ] 22 minutes ago .  Yes we do have melting of some ice caps and yes we do have emissions that affect our weather and NO ONE is denying this. But it isn’t this matter of “the sky is falling ” that so many who have a political agenda are spewing out . I see liberals who are saying that the world is coming to an  end because we are driving automobiles or flying around in jets.   Then on the other side of the fence we have conservatives who are downplaying , ignoring or denying that there is any environmental problem at all or at least overly minimizing the problem. So yes indeed sir , there is cause to address this as necessary.  I was NOT referring to that at all and I too do not want to be misunderstood. Our climate changes are CYCLICAL .  They fluxuate .   More damage came to our environment from the eruption of Mt  St.  Helens volcano eruption spewing ash and pollution than all of the automobiles on the road since Henry Ford .  Liberals are pushing their “green agenda” as radical environmentalists and on the other side I have seen conservatives who will defend and support [ BIG INDUSTRY ] at any cost. As I  have clearly stated before and acknowledged that we have a bias on both sides and we must indeed study ALL sides of the argument and ignore NEITHER. A scientist who has studied this extensively wrote a book titled–” Not By Fire  But By Ice”  and writes about a coming Ice Age. So yes indeed , there is a confrontation on this issue on both sides and no argument from me on that .   But the fact still remains that this alarmist hysteria that is being put out there by individuals like Al  Gore and other pundits just doesn’t hold water.  We should indeed look at both sides of the issue closely and I’m all for cleaning up the environment and minimizing or eliminating as much pollutants as possible.  I have looked at both sides of the argument and I have tried to objectively view the matter in such a context .  I have just as much been upset at SOME  conservatives for trying to insist that there is absolutely no problem at all as  I have been  at  SOME liberals who are declaring that doomsday is near.

  • Frank

    I have long suspected that there are a lot of “cultural Christians”; they don’t really believe or attend church but when asked they say they are Christian. I am hopeful Penn Jillette is correct about that 20% number. And I hope the growth rate becomes exponential.

    • George

      Frank , I met a long time friend that went to high school with me much later in our adult lives . I had no idea  he was an atheist .  He was openly as an atheist  and also had gotten some media attention. He didn’t know that about me as well.  Atheism was associated with communism and all thet rubbish and people who were atheists were destined to eternal damnation and were considered the ultimate blasphemers and simply immoral lost souls  ( as if that has changed much today ). 
                          I later was talking to a friend of mine who an Army Viet Nam veteran (infantry ) and he informed me during a conversation that he too was an atheists and didn’t believe in all that religion crap. One of my female cousins died of a particular disease and before she died she said —- ” There is no god. If there was a god , then he wouldn’t let this disease take over me and let me suffer the way I do “. She died of her illness shortly thereafter. If a person survives a horrific illness people say– ” Thank GOD !  God was on her/his side .   God blessed you ,………… etc etc etc  ” 
                    However if the person should die, then the same  Christians say — Oh  he/she is in heaven and God has prepared a special place for him/her.  It was God’s will to take her/him to a better place . God has called him/her to heaven for an everlasting life ………….blah , blah , blah …..  ”   The supposed deity is never held accountable . They have their indoctrinated excuse “plank” ready to defend the indefensible.  These people wouldn’t know any god if they met one. If there was a god, how would anyone be able to identify and confirm a god if the deity is invisible, formless, indescribable and unable to be identified by any of our senses ?
                    This is the power of theological brainwashing.  Religion is mind contro and behaviorial control and is also political and financial control. People believe what they were taught since youth via their indoctrination. If a  Christian in America who staunchly believes in Jesus and  Christianity were raised in Pakistan, Syria, or Iran or Iraq , they would almost certainly be a Muslim embracing the teaching of the Koran, Muhammad and Islam,  and they would be badmouthing Christianity calling  Christians heathens, heretics and infidels.     It all has to do with indoctrination.   religious fundamentalists have no qualms whatsoever about ridiculing , attacking, maligning, and denigrating other people’s beliefs but they vehemently hate and despise with a venom any sort of critism of THEIR indoctrinated beliefs.  They demand tolerance for THEIR beliefs but have absolutely  NO tolerance whatsoever toward anyone eles’s beliefs in any form or fashion.
                    The overwhelmingly great majority of  Americans who are atheists are still in the ‘closet” because of fear .   Fear of intimidation, ostracism , losing a job or promotion or even threats and physical harm. No atheist has ever threatened or harmed anyone here in America becasue a person doesn’t accept secular freethough or critices or bashes atheists.  Atheists are indeed numerous , they are simply in HIDING ( in the closet ). It’s up to us to bring them out !

      • George

        Religion is taught based on fear, indoctrination and ignorance.  Nearly all religions teach that THEIR religion is the true religion and everybody else’s religion is a false religion and all the other prophets are false prophets.     This is what has  fueled wars, civil unrest , human rights violations, slavery , subjugation, exploitation, oppression , and control of the masses. Pardon my typos in above post.  It’s time for us who know better to get up , stand up and speak out PUBLICLY  !      We need to do more than just chit-chat to each other . We need to speak out more and more publicly  and then other secular freethinkers will see that it’s safe to come out and identify themselves as secular rational freethnkers.