It's about time: The rise of atheism in America
- Rising atheism in America puts 'religious right on the defensive'
by Paul Harris
(The Guardian, 10/1/2011)
The US is increasingly portrayed as a hotbed of religious fervour. Yet in the homeland of ostentatiously religious politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, agnostics and atheists are actually part of one of the fastest-growing demographics in the US: the godless. Far from being in thrall to its religious leaders, the US is in fact becoming a more secular country, some experts say. "It has never been better to be a free-thinker or an agnostic in America," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF.
The exact number of faithless is unclear. One study by the Pew Research Centre puts them at about 12% of the population, but another by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College in Hartford puts that figure at around 20%.
Most experts agree that the number of secular Americans has probably doubled in the past three decades growing especially fast among the young. It is thought to be the fastest-growing major "religious" demographic in the country.
There are other indications, too. For a long time studies have shown that about 40% of US adults attend a church service weekly. However, other studies that actually counted those at church rather than just asking people if they went have shown the true number to be about half to two-thirds of that figure.