The trend also has political implications. American voters who describe themselves as having no religion vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Pew found Americans with no religion support abortion rights and gay marriage at a much higher-rate than the U.S. public at large. These "nones" are an increasing segment of voters who are registered as Democrats or lean toward the party, growing from 17 percent to 24 percent over the last five years. The religiously unaffiliated are becoming as important a constituency to Democrats as evangelicals are to Republicans, Pew said.
i found this passage telling. while it's nice to hear that demographically the non-religious are important, it's disappointing that we get no real political play. perhaps i'm grousing over nothing. what would i like to hear a politician say about us? for the Evangelical base, they get pandered to ad naseum, but largely ignored once they get into office. some of this has changed in recent years - Republican lawmakers have been busy passing abortion restrictions and trying to get creationism into science classrooms. otoh, not much has really changed there. just how would a political figure pander to "the nones"? we know it's political suicide to deny the Christian deity, so what else would we want from them?
"I also think many of them ARE us, except, of course, they can never admit that."
i think you're right Melinda. one day we might be acknowledged, but that day isn't today.
Pete Stark, California Democrat, has spoken up as non-theistic. One of 535.
"we know it's political suicide to deny the Christian deity" The perfect example of this is Georgia Republican Representative Paul Broun and he is also medical doctor who made the following remarks while speaking at the 2012 Sportsman’s Banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell, Georgia.
"All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.”
Mr Broun is also a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology the same committee that the infamous Missouri Republican Representative Todd "legitimate rape" Akin is on.
update on this with a new poll:
Still more cat herding.
"Scholars have long debated whether people who say they no longer belong to a religious group should be considered secular. While the category as defined by Pew researchers includes atheists, it also encompasses majorities of people who say they believe in God, and a notable minority who pray daily or consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious." Still, Pew found overall that most of the unaffiliated aren't actively seeking another religious home, indicating that their ties with organized religion are permanently broken."
As the quote points out, nones are not the same thing as atheist. It includes a large number of people turned off by organized religion yet still suspicious of outright atheists (my accessment). Many call themselves "spiritual". We atheists are growing but still small percentage. Still, I consider all this a positive for eventually achieving what I think should be the most important goal - Church/state separation.
As long as we can be splintered, the nones will be ignored. If we expect to be catered to we need to do a better job of identifying goals and cooperating to achieve those goals.
Power can be taken, but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself.
I personally find the current situation frustrating. I don't find the fact that nones are migrating towards the democratic party to be totally positive. I'm a fiscal conservative who is socially moderate to liberal. I think that might have been a Rockefeller Republican. I don't see a home for me in the current political climate. I think the current term is "Rino". I'll wear that term proudly until the evangelical faction of the republican party has been beaten back. While I'm sure many on A/N will have disagreements with me on issues, I doubt they would be considered strong or vehement disagreements. Compromise used to be possible, and I think we'll see that day again...just as soon as the religious idiots are sent back to the children's table.
i used to consider myself a fiscal conservative. i actually think i still am, but i don't identify in any way with the current fiscal cons in the republican party. the same rigid ideology that drives their orthodoxy in religion has spilled over into their economic worldview. sometimes the fiscally prudent thing to do is to raise taxes. especially if the goal is to pay down our debt, we need an infusion of revenues, and there's so much low hanging fruit in the tax code - trillion of dollars in tax expenditures - that it seems foolish not to take advantage. my two cents, fwiw.
as far as the nones go, i'm more bullish that the trend will continue and that a larger portion of that group are non-believers than they care to admit. i think it's still a stigma thing. but i do know a lot of people that are nones and still consider themselves spiritual in some manner. give it another generation and it should be firmly cemented into our culture as almost normal to disregard religion. disbelief in god comes next.
I agree regarding flexibility on fiscal issues. I see no reason for iron rigidity as long as we can keep ourselves in a position where we can be flexible. We spent like drunken sailors during the good times and we haven't improved since.
You're right about the stigma. I think the longer nones are out of the clutches of organized religion the more they'll move towards atheism or freethought. It's more about the kids than anything else.
agreed. i think it's important to remember that much of this is in it's relative infancy. as the polls point out, just 15 years ago the nones were at 10%. that's a pretty radical change in attitude. and the trendline keeps pointing up. the millenials will play a huge role in this. if they decide it's something to care about, and there's evidence that they will, then non-belief or non-religion will be as common as belief.
Greg and Matthew, I agree with both of you about the stigma of the atheist label. I, too, have met many people who are 'spiritual but not religious.' When all is said and done, they are non-believers but without the atheist title. That one, nasty word keeps them living in the shadows of the free-thought community.
I don't necessarily want to be pandered to by anybody. To have a politician who publicly denies a christian deity would be great......awesome, in fact, but I'd be just as happy being represented by fair-minded religious politicians who respect the separation of church and state and do not have, as a prerequisite, the need to publicly acknowledge a deity while in governmental service.
We had Pete Stark, but who, really, these days has the electability and necessary larger-than-life personality to buck the system and set a new tone on the presidential level? I'm talking about eliminating "so help me god" at an inauguration or "god bless the United States of America" following speeches, etc., etc. That's going to take strong-willed but likable and respected personalities such as Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson and (across the pond) Winston Churchill.
hey, it happened in Australia!
i don't care about a politician's religious beliefs UNTIL they use them to deny the age of the earth or someone's rights. i'd prefer if all politics was secular. i'd like to propose the Noah's Ark test - if a pol believes it really happened then he/she is disqualified from public office! believe in your religion and God all you want, but if you can't separate fact from fiction you're gone!