This is pretty rich. It seems the fastest-growing religious group in the nation is the one that espouses no religious beliefs at all:
Polls show that the ranks of atheists are growing. The American Religious Identification Survey, a major study released last month, found that those who claimed “no religion” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years. Nationally, the “nones” in the population nearly doubled, to 15 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 1990. — NY Times
I get my pal Friar Tuck on the phone to comment on these data. That’s not his real name, but he has the same hairline as the mythic clergyman, and he’s been active in his Community church since he was a pre-teen, necking in the narthex.
Whassup, Tuck? You’re losing ground!
“It’s noticeable,” he agrees. “Especially over the last 10 years or so. The pews are a lot emptier now, and what’s worse, we don’t have volunteers for the church picnic, soup kitchen, social programs, and the like.”
What gives? Are people losing their religion like the REM song says?
“Well, yeah. At least in my church, which y’know is pretty secular. People join as much for the fraternity and socializing as they do to worship. But lately, being known as a Christian has slipped a few notches on the respectability scale.”
You got a ways to go before you hit Muslim levels. Or even Jewish, Madoff notwithstanding.
“Word. But see, the irony here is that people got turned off by other Christians. They didn’t like getting associated with the zanies out there, the chancel-prancers and bible-thumpers picketing abortion clinics, or, taking over school board meetings over prayer, or gay-bashing. My people didn’t like being linked with these in-your-face Christians.”
Poisoning the brand.
“If you will. Well, it’s a short step from out the church door to dropping religion altogether especially if you’re not in church for religious reasons to begin with. But you still want the community. So atheists start forming their own groups, which attracts even more non-believers, and pretty soon they have the ‘church’ they want — fellowship, community, and no pesky religious rites or obligations.”
It’s not all wine and roses, Tuck. Listen to this: “Despite changing attitudes, polls continue to show that atheists are ranked lower than any other minority or religious group when Americans are asked whether they would vote for or approve of their child marrying a member of that group.” That’s from the Times article.
“Well, I get that. But I bet most atheists don’t much care what other people, particularly religious people, think about them. So long as they’re not tying ’em to stakes or branding crosses on their tits and foreheads.”
They still do that?
“I dunno. Probably in Tennessee or Alabama. Stay outta there, heathen.” He rings off.
No problem. South Florida is redneck enough for THIS card-carrying atheist. But it’s truly weird to be on the front side of a trend. I might have to convert. But to what? Is there such a thing as a Pastafarian?