Americans Turning Away From Organized Religion in Record Numbers

What's the future of religious institutions in the U.S.? Answer: None.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore / AlterNet

 According to AlterNet, with fire-breathing religion figuring anew in global conflicts, and political discussions at home often dominated by the nuttery of the Christian right, you might get the sense that somebody’s god is ready to mug you around every street corner. But if you’re the type who doesn’t like to hang your hat on organized religion, here’s a bit of good news: in America, your numbers are growing.

There are more religiously unaffiliated people in the U.S. today than ever before. Starting in the 1980s, a variety of polls using different methodologies have come to the same conclusion: people who do not identify with religious labels are on the rise, perhaps even doubling in that time frame.  

Some call them “nones”: agnostics, atheists, deists, secular humanists, general humanists, and people who just don’t care to identify with any religious group. It’s not exactly correct to call them nonbelievers, because some still have faith and spirituality in some sense or another. A 2012 Pew study noted that 30 percent of these people believe in "God or universal spirit" and around 20 percent even pray every day. But according to the latest research, Americans checking the “none of the above” box will make up an increasingly important force in the country. Other groups, like born-again evangelicals, have grown more percentage-wise, but the nones have them beat in absolute numbers.

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Atheist Alliance International's Representation at the United Nations

We are proud to announce that our president, Christine M. Shellska, has given a speech at the UN's Commission for Social Development. Prepared and researched by Rustam Singh, the speech brilliantly and succinctly details AAI's vision and goals for the future. The text of the speech, as well as a link to the video of Ms. Shellska presenting the speech, is provided below. 

Transcript of AAI’s oral statement presented at the Commission for Social Development, Fifty-third Session, 9th meeting, UN Headquarters, New York (Tuesday, February 10, 2015) 

Researched/prepared by: Mr. Rustam Singh, AAI UN Special Consultative Status Project Lead

Delivered by: Christine M. Shellska, President, AAI

Thank you, Madam Chair, for the opportunity to speak, and to the committee for your commendable work and your commitment to sustainable social development.

Atheist Alliance International’s vision is of a secular world, where public policy, scientific inquiry and education are not influenced by religious beliefs, but based upon sound reasoning, rationality and evidence.

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CHRISTIANS MORE SUPPORTIVE OF TORTURE THAN NON-RELIGIOUS AMERICANS

According to Religion Dispatches, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Americans, by a 59-31% margin, believe that CIA “treatment of suspected terrorists” in detention was justified.

A plurality deemed that “treatment” to be “torture,” by a 49-38% margin.

Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious. Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement. Among the non-religious, though, 72% said the treatment amounted to torture. (The poll did not break down non-Christian religions in the results.)

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On Sam Harris’s ‘Waking Up’ Lecture

WRITTEN BY BERKELEY STUDENT FRANCES HUANG WITH MARK KOLSEN, AAI NEWS TEAM

Does it make sense to talk of ‘secular spirituality’? Well-known atheist and author Dr Sam Harris thinks it does. I attended Harris’s San Francisco lecture on 17 September which coincided with the release of his new book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. The lecture series (also presented in Los Angeles and New York) tried (and mostly succeeded) in getting to the core of human consciousness, mindfulness and secular spirituality.

from http://www.thinkatheist.com First, Harris skilfully argued that since the very beginning, suffering has its origins in the illusion of self. This ‘self’ claims to be the thinker of our thoughts and the experiencer of our experiences. When we are wandering in our thoughts, those little persons in our heads are the ‘selves’ that we seem to experience. However, as Harris pointed out in both the lecture and the new book, ‘a persistent and unified self’ is merely an illusion since it is the whole brain and the firing of neuronal networks that make us who we are. Our thoughts and our behaviors are wholly caused by our brain, which also changes with time. As Harris argued in his book Free Will (2012), free will, like the sense of self, is also an illusion.

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Atheists should target the Supreme Court

WRITTEN BY MARK KOLSEN, AAI NEWS TEAM

In his 1776 pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine argued that the colonies should replace the English monarchy with a representative democracy. Although he offered few details on how the U.S. constitution should be structured, Paine argued that when deciding on laws, representatives “are supposed to have the same concerns” as the people who elected them, and when voting on laws, should “act in the same manner as (the people) would act were they present.” To ensure the representatives’ “fidelity” to the public, Paine said that Americans should have “elections often,” that is, annual elections as done typically in colonial legislatures. To Paine, “the strength of the government and the happiness of the governed” depends on the people and their representatives having a “common interest.”

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'AIDS Pastor Had Sex With Churchgoers'

 

Parishioners at an Alabama church have filed a lawsuit against their pastor who is accused of having sex with congregation members while knowing he had AIDS.

The members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Montgomery hope to oust longtime pastor Juan McFarland.

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I agree with Sam Harris and Bill Maher

By: Sameen Qazi

A few days ago, social media went rife with people praising Ben Affleck. “Batman comes to the rescue” was the general sentiment tweeted by everyone and my friends happily posted the link to the clip from Bill Maher’s show. People were ecstatic that an American, a prominent actor at that, finally stood up for Islam on a highly rated TV show.

The clip did not just cause a sensation in Pakistan; it opened a debate online with prominent analysts like Reza Aslan and Fareed Zakaria taking up sides and expressing their opinions.

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Majority of Canadians support assisted dying

According to Global News, eighty-four per cent of Canadians say they support assisted dying, according to a new national poll released Wednesday.

Just a week before the Supreme Court of Canada will begin hearings on a landmark case on assisted dying, a Dying with Dignity and Ipsos Reid survey suggests that Canadians are supportive of the controversial idea.

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Bill Maher 1, Ben Affleck 0

By: Michael Tomasky 

The Real Time host’s spat with the 'Gone Girl' star gets to the heart of a major and longtime problem within contemporary Western liberalism

Every once in a great while, something happens on television that you know while you’re watching it: Well, this is unusual. Those old enough to know what I’m talking about when I say “Al Campanis”  will remember that that was one of your more extreme cases. The exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on last Friday’s Real Time wasn’t a Campanis moment, but I knew instantly—watching it in, well, real time, as it were—that this was going to spark discussion,  as indeed it has.

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Teen Faces Jail for Lewd Pose with Jesus Statue

 A Pennsylvania teenager faces up to two years behind bars after posting pictures to Facebook in which he simulates receiving oral sex from a statue of Jesus.

The unnamed 14-year-old says he posed with the statue, which sits outside a Christian organization in Everett, Pennsylvania, called Love in the Name of Christ, in late July. The pictures are being used as evidence that the teen may be guilty of desecrating an object of veneration.



Debating Mormonism: Why and How

WRITTEN BY LIZ EMERY, AAI NEWS TEAM

Atheists long enjoyed watching Christopher Hitchens “slap” believers, especially during formal public debates. But debaters accepting Hitch’s baton must likewise prepare diligently or get “slapped” themselves during debates. In the following article, Liz Emery offers valuable insider’s advice to atheists intent on debating Mormons. Raised and homeschooled by Mormon parents in Utah, Liz served in multiple Church leadership roles and was accepted to study at Bringham Young University. She instead attended Utah State University, where she wrote a weekly column for the university’s newspaper. Today she lives in Chicago, but continues to study the Mormon Church.

 

The recent debate between biblical literalist Ken Hamm and scientist Bill Nye has raised an old question: Is it useful for atheists to debate believers, or do debates give unnecessary validity to irrational arguments? Religious arguments rest solely on faith, not scientific evidence, and debate formats do not allow secularists to conduct a course on epistemology. Victor Stenger has argued convincingly that debates favor Christian apologists who regularly perform in front of audiences and that atheists face a formidable task in preparing properly.

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