From Facebook friend to blocked in 3 days!

Click to embiggen.

Well, that was quick. Had someone who asked me to friend them two or three days ago unfriend and block me within the past 12 hours. I only agreed to accept the friend request because we had a mutual friend, but apparently she didn’t look first to see if she’d appreciate my point of view on things spiritual before sending out the invite.

It all started when she posted this Atheism meme on the right here to her wall. It was exactly the sort of thing I find hard to let slide by without comment. So I pointed out that Atheism has nothing to do with the Big Bang Theory or the Theory of Evolution. That atheism says nothing about a person’s beliefs beyond the fact that they lack belief in god(s). Above and beyond that, it misrepresents the science of both theories.

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Things went downhill quickly from there. Someone else asked what it was the meme was trying to say and I pointed out that it was a poor attempt to clapback at a similar meme on Christianity (also to the right). The difference between them being that the Christianity meme hits on actual tenets of Christian faith — everlasting life through belief in a resurrected god, the taint of sin, Eve and forbidden fruit, etc. — that sound ludicrous when you think about it whereas the atheism one doesn’t because atheism isn’t a religion that requires adherence to doctrine.

Then a fourth person made a comment about “a-theism” meaning they must be “a-gainst God” to which I responded with the fact that it’s hard to be against something that doesn’t exist. You may as well say you’re against Unicorns for all the sense that would make. That the word “atheism” has been around since before the 5th century and is derived from the ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning “without god(s)”. When I next returned to this thread because someone had liked my comment I was surprised to see it had been deleted.

My new friend then started asking me if I didn’t understand “allegory”, but rather than take up the argument, I pointed out that a previous comment had been deleted. I said I was happy to have this discussion with them if it wasn’t going to upset them, but if my comments were just going to be deleted then I was certain I could find better ways to spend my time.

It was at this point that she took it upon herself to explain to me that her concept of god was less old-white-bearded-guy-in-the-sky than it was “Consciousness” with a capital C. She went on to tell me that there are no atheists in fox holes and that the reason I didn’t believe in whatever it is she considered to be God was because I lacked the curiosity and desire to truly know the truth.

One of the things that always irritates me is when someone who barely knows anything about me attempts to explain to me what I do and don’t know or how much effort I’ve put into understanding or learning about something. So I pointed out to her how arrogant it was to presume that I must not have been sufficiently curious enough or wanted to know the truth bad enough just because I don’t believe the same things she does. I said it was that kind of you-must-not-have-believed-enough “victim blaming” was, frankly, offensive. I pointed out that dismissing my viewpoint being a result of my apathetic curiosity was a lazy way to avoid having to provide support for her beliefs.

Of course, I was much more eloquent in my phrasing, but I’m trying to recall all of this from memory because it appears I’ve been unfriended and blocked as there’s no sign of the comments she had left on posts on my wall and I no longer see her in my friends list.

Not that I am at all bothered by this. Clearly she was happy to be my friend so long as we expressed similar viewpoints. Which, politically at least, we did. However, the moment I disagreed with her on her spiritual beliefs she couldn’t unfriend me fast enough. The thing about it is, I worked very hard not to suggest she was an idiot and even when I got irritated, I tried to keep it civil. I also attempted to drop the matter with a I’ll agree to disagree and move on, but she had to go and try and tell me how I had failed to be curious enough.

Chalk one more win up to my sparkling personality.

God isn’t powerful enough to transubstantiate gluten free crackers.

This just in from the one-more-way-religions-look-stupid department, a Catholic Cardinal has forbidden the use of gluten free Jesus crackers during Holy Communion:

Vatican 0outlaws use of gluten free bread for Holy Communion. — The Telegraph

The ruling was announced in a letter to bishops by Cardinal Robert Sarah,  prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

He has said the bread can be low-gluten, but the wheat must contain enough protein for it to be made without additives.

For those of you who aren’t Catholics, one of the core beliefs is that the wafers and wine they consume during mass literally turn into the flesh and blood of Christ once they’ve been consecrated. This belief was obligatory in 1215 with the Fourth Council of the Lateran.

I Can't Believe It's Not Jesus

Don’t even THINK of using these in the Catholic church.

The Vatican appears to be declaring that, despite being an all-powerful entity responsible for the existence of all creation who can literally do anything he can imagine, God is incapable or unwilling to perform transubstantiation on gluten free bread.

He added: “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.

“It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.”

And don’t you even begin to think any old wine will do as Jesus blood:

“The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances.”

Leaving aside the cannibalistic aspects of this ritual for a moment, you would think God would have had the foresight of the sort of problems that a Jesus cracker with gluten in it would cause Catholics with Celiac disease, what with being all-knowing and all. Which calls into question that whole transubstantiation thing to begin with. I mean, if the cracker literally becomes the flesh of Christ then wouldn’t that remove any gluten in it? Or did Jesus have naturally occurring gluten in his flesh?

Probably best not to think about that too much.

Lutherans, who also practice this odd ritual, don’t seem to be as hung up on what the cracker is made out of and generally leave it up to the local churches to decide if they’re willing to substitute gluten free bread. Methodists can also use gluten free bread or rice cakes. I’ve not checked into the other denominations that engage in a similar ritual, but I’d bet they are also more accommodating.

One can only assume that the Catholic church doesn’t think God is capable of turning anything other than unleavened wheat bread into Jesus flesh. Or he’s just that much of a petty bread snob that he refuses to do so.

Feel the Christian Love: Ye shall know them by their fruits edition.

Jesus is love, right? That’s what they keep telling us. God is love. Jesus is love. So on and so forth. Love thy neighbor as thyself. We hear it all the time from folks trying to sell us on Christianity. Sounds good, except that it seems there are a lot of Christians who either don’t understand the message or don’t actually believe it.

Events like the mass murder of 49 people at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse often bring out the true nature of some self-professed Christians. One only has to turn to Twitter to see it first hand:

The parade of tweets like these just goes on and on and on, but it’s not just individual Christians showing their true colors. Whole churches are getting in on the act. It goes without saying that the asshats at Westboro Baptist Church have been celebrating the Orlando massacre, but they’re not alone. There’s people like Pastor Steven Anderson in Arizona who has been putting out hateful videos on YouTube for awhile now. He wasted no time responding to the Orlando shooting:

Anderson is really just one step removed from the shooter. He isn’t upset that a bunch of gays were killed so much as how it was done. He doesn’t condone vigilantism. He thinks killing homosexuals is a job the U.S. Government should be doing itself. Because Jesus is love or something. Oh, and you shouldn’t sympathize with the victims either:

He’s right about at least one thing. There’s plenty of passages in the Bible to justify what he’s saying. You don’t have to look hard to find them and he even provides a couple in his videos.

Then there’s Pastor Roger Jimenez of the Verity Baptist Church in California. He had this to say:

Again, he has plenty of material in the Bible to back his views up. This is the “good” book so many Christians claim to follow. This is the “loving God” they claim to believe in. For all the shit that the Quran commands of its Muslim followers that so many like to point to as proof of it being a wicked religion, there’s just as much in the Bible that you could make the very same argument about.

These people acknowledge that and celebrate it. They take glee in the idea that the victims are burning in Hell. It justifies their hate. It grants them permission to treat anyone they don’t like as less than human. As unworthy of life. Be they gay, atheist, a different race, a different religion, or what have you. They will insist that Jesus still loves you as they call for your death over your perceived sins and while they themselves may not kill you, you can be damned sure they won’t be upset should someone else do it for them. In their perfect world, the government would be taking care of you for them.

This is that famous Christian love they want to sell you.

Links and YouTube mirrors via Hemet Mehta.

Someone at this Bible store didn’t read this Mark Twain quote closely.

christiantwainquote

Anyone who has read Twain’s writings and orations, especially in the latter years of his life, would know he was no friend of Christianity.

“A God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell — mouths mercy, and invented hell — mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!” — Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger

“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain

“Jesus died to save men — a small thing for an immortal to do, & didn’t save many, anyway; but if he had been damned for the race that would have been an act of a size proper to a god, & would have saved the whole race. However, why should anybody want to save the human race, or damn it either? Does God want its society? Does Satan?” — Mark Twain

That’s OK, though. No true believer would let themselves be swayed by a heathen like Mark Twain anyway. Still, might want to avoid using him to promote your religion in the future.

Good news Christians! Photographic proof that Heaven is real is here!

Mboro-1

How could you not trust a face like that? I’m sure his story is 100% legit!

Self-proclaimed South African Prophet and founder of the Incredible Happenings church, Pastor Mboro (real name: Paseka Motsoeneng), claims that on Easter Sunday he ascended physically to Heaven for a guided tour from Jesus and his (Jesus’ not Pastor Mboro’s) “hot, young wife”. Best of all, he had his Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone on hand to document it all with pictures! Which he is TOTALLY going to share with anyone and everyone… who makes a small donation of 5,000 South African Rand (about $351.43 USD) to his church.

Needless to say, some folks have a problem with these claims. Especially the whole making-money-off-pics-of-Heaven thing. This has left Pastor Mboro both confused and sad. He’s especially unhappy with the folks who took to social media to mock him with a number of memes like the ones below:

 

So, being the amazingly Godly man that he is, he announced that he would release the pictures for FREE on his Facebook page on Sunday! At last we’ll have real, photographic proof of the existence of Heaven along with Jesus and his hot, young wife!

Or at least he had TOTALLY planned to do that if not for the fact that his smartphone full of pictures was JUST STOLEN AT A CAR WASH!!

He was facing extortion charges for offering the photos for a price, before he claims his Galaxy S5 was stolen.

“The pictures were really there, I saw them. We suspect one of the boys washing the Prophet’s car took the phone. But they all denied taking it, even after we threatened them,” one of Mboro’s bodyguards told reporters. “All those who have deposited money will be refunded.”

Oh, that’s a tough break! Apparently he wasn’t aware that he could set up his phone, which runs on the Android platform, to automatically back up any pictures he took to his Google account which would’ve mitigated the tragedy of having his phone stolen. You’d think he would’ve put that phone in a safety deposit box or a safe or something.

Surely getting a selfie with Jesus and his hot, young wife is a once-in-a-lifetime experience he is unlikely to see again. Not to mention all those amazing vistas obscured by countless numbers of souls milling about praising God 24/7. This could’ve been something to finally shut all us dumb atheists up with all our dumb requests for stupid “evidence.”

Oh well, I suppose it’s a lesson learned for next time. Turn on that automatic backup feature, folks! You’ll never know when Jesus might invite you up for a tour of his crib!

White Christians are officially a minority now.

colbertfreakoutHere’s a bit of news sure to make the Religious Right freak out even more than usual. White Christians are now a minority in the United States:

Pew: White Christians no longer a majority – POLITICO.

According to the latest results from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape survey published Monday by National Journal’s Next America project, just 46 percent of American adults are white Christians, down from 55 percent in 2007.

At the same time, according to the report, the share of white Christians identifying as Republican has remained steady, even equal with the share of the party that carried President Ronald Reagan to his 1984 reelection. Nearly seven in 10 white Christians — 69 percent — identify with or lean toward the GOP, while just 31 percent do the same with Democrats.

So if you’ve been thinking the Religious Right has been more unhinged than usual lately, this is probably why. They know they’re on the decline and they’re going to get more panicky as their numbers continue to diminish.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau as of last year whites still made up 77% of the population, but more and more of us are moving away from Christianity.

In less than a decade, the gap in Christian identification between Democrats and Republicans has increased by 50 percent. According to the data presented, in 2007, 88 percent of white Republicans and 70 percent of white Democrats identified as Christian, an 18-point disparity. By 2014, 84 percent of white Republicans identified as Christian, but the share of white Democrats identifying as Christian fell by 13 points, to 57 percent, a 27-point gap.

Not all of that change can be attributed to the rise in atheism, but we’re certainly having an effect. It’s also worth noting that Christians are still a majority religion in America at 70.6%, but more and more of them aren’t Caucasian. You can bet these trends are going to cause more than a little turmoil as they continue to grow.

John Oliver takes on Televangelists by setting up his own church.

A lot of people assume that, as an atheist, I have a problem with folks believing in God and going to church. The truth is so long as you’re not hurting anyone else or passing laws based solely on what you think your God wants, I generally don’t give a shit if you spend your Sundays dressed in uncomfortable clothes at your local church taking communion or speaking in tongues or whatever other silly rituals your particular belief system engages in. I spend my Sundays doing laundry and playing video games so it’s not like I’m being all that much more productive. Do I think your beliefs are stupid and a waste of time and money? Yes, yes I do, but if it makes you happy and keeps you from climbing a clock tower with a high powered rifle then you go right ahead and keep on believin’.

That said, there’s one part of Christianity that I have a big problem with and that’s the Televangelists. Particularly those who push the concept of Prosperity Theology or, as it’s more commonly known, Prosperity Gospel. To skeptics and many other Christians it’s often referred to as Greed-Based Theology. For those not familiar with this particular variation of Christianity, prepare to have your skin crawl:

If it weren’t for the religious trappings these guys would be referred to as con-artists and would be liable for all manner of legal trouble, both civil and criminal. Yet wrap it all up in the shroud of Jesus and it becomes perfectly legal. The IRS, already hated by most people, won’t even glance in the direction of most of these “churches” for fear of bringing down the wrath of the righteous.

My cynical side tells me that if there are people so stupid that they can’t see this nonsense for the scam it is then they deserve to be fleeced by the wolves in sheep’s clothing, but my better nature gets angry that these, often desperate, people are having their faith taken advantage of. This is also why I have problems with the whole concept of spiritual faith. When you can believe something is true with no actual evidence to support that belief then you’re ripe for plucking by those who would manipulate that faith. It bothers me that those who can least afford it are often the ones who get most sucked into these scams.

Which brings us back to John Oliver who it appears is attempting not so much to shut down these churches as prod the IRS into scrutinizing them more closely. I’m already of the opinion that all churches should be taxed just like the rest of us, but it’d be nice if the IRS at least looked into the ones who are flagrantly abusing their flocks to amass great amounts of wealth. If there aren’t any laws in place to regulate this sort of thing, then perhaps it’s high time we had some.

Pat Robertson tells viewer to try to get atheist grandkid enrolled in Christian school.

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and its signature show The 700 Club, has a long record of saying douchey things. So much so that I rarely comment on them anymore, but this one was particularly aggravating.

In a segment where he replies to letters from viewers he responds to one from a grandmother concerned that her grandkid is being raised as an atheist by his father so she’s seeking Pat’s advice on what to do about it. Pat’s idea? Try to get the kid away from the atheist parent and into a Christian school or a vacation Bible school.

Christians pitch a fit everytime Richard Dawkins says that he feels parents shouldn’t force their religion on their kids, but I’ve never heard Dawkins suggest that someone should actively try to get a child away from a parent intent on indoctrinating them. If he had you’d never hear the end of it.

If you’re going to argue that Christians, or members of any other faith, should have the right to raise their kids in their faith then the same should be true for atheists. Pat Robertson should’ve told that grandmother to mind her own business, but that would’ve been only fair. He’s not interested in fair, he’s only concerned with spreading Christianity as far as he can before he kicks the bucket because he thinks it’ll earn him extra whipped cream on his Sundaes in heaven or something. He also knows that if you can hook ’em when they’re young they’re more likely to stay with it as adults. To many Christians children are like Pokemon: Gotta catch ’em all.

 

Marriage equality is the best thing to happen for… atheism?

I’ve been kicking around a couple of ideas for blog posts the past week or so because it’s been awhile since I last wrote one. In the past I would’ve blogged about the momentous Supreme Court decision making marriage equality the law of the land and how historic it is and all that, but that all seemed like an obvious thing to say so I didn’t do that.

However, while watching the various media reports on the reactions to the ruling — both joyous and apoplectic — it occurred to me that this wasn’t just a wonderful thing for the LGBT community, but for us atheists as well.

We already know that the younger generation is abandoning traditional religious beliefs in record numbers and this is driven in part by the bigotry and intolerance for homosexuals exhibited by many religious sects. In the most recent U.S. Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center they reported:

One of the most important factors in the declining share of Christians and the growth of the “nones” is generational replacement. As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations. Fully 36% of young Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are religiously unaffiliated, as are 34% of older Millennials (ages 25-33). And fewer than six-in-ten Millennials identify with any branch of Christianity, compared with seven-in-ten or more among older generations, including Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. Just 16% of Millennials are Catholic, and only 11% identify with mainline Protestantism. Roughly one-in-five are evangelical Protestants.

36% of people between 18 and 24 are religiously unaffiliated. That’s huge and it spells big trouble for the religious powers that be. You can find all manner of articles on various religious websites arguing over why people in general, and young people in particular, are leaving the church and what to do to fix the problem, but studies show that it’s got a lot to do with perceived hostility to gays and lesbians. The Public Religion Research Institute released a report in early 2014 that said:

Majorities of Americans perceive three religious groups to be unfriendly to LGBT people: the Catholic Church (58%), the Mormon church (53%), and evangelical Christian churches (51%). Perceptions of non-evangelical Protestant churches, African-American churches and the Jewish religion are notably less negative.

Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) Americans agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues. Seven-in-ten (70%) Millennials believe that religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues. Only among members of the Silent Generation do less than a majority (43%) believe religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.

Among Americans who left their childhood religion and are now religiously unaffiliated, about one-quarter say negative teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people was a somewhat important (14%) or very important (10%) factor in their decision to disaffiliate. Among Millennials who no longer identify with their childhood religion, nearly one-third say that negative teachings about, or treatment of, gay and lesbian people was either a somewhat important (17%) or very important (14%) factor in their disaffiliation from religion.

Religious hostility towards the gay community is not the only driving factor in people leaving their religion behind, but it is a significant one. Given that fact the reaction many on the Religious Right have had to the Supreme Court ruling can only encourage that trend to continue. A small sampling:

Bryan Fischer of the far right American Family Association took to Twitter after the decision to compare it to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks. I shit you not:

Then there’s Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries who was recently interviewed on AFA’s radio show Focal Point who said the decision had basically turned the U.S. into North Korea:

“Righteous Christians are truly beyond grieved,” she continued. “They can’t believe that this has happened, not just in the lifetime, but within a relatively short period of time, within a five to seven year period of time, it just seems like not just the world has been turned over to evil, but it seems like the greatest nation that certainly in the last many hundreds of years has been turned over to a reprobate mind.”

“We may be totally silenced,” Markell warned. “Who knows? American Family Radio, Olive Tree Ministries, maybe we’ll be shut down. It would not surprise me at all … They talk like this in North Korea, in China but now we’re talking like this in America and I can only consider that it’s probably judgment on us because too much of America has gone astray spiritually.”

Presidential Candidate (!) Rick Santorum has been having an absolute fit since the decision making all manner of hysterical predictions and promising the folks at NOM that he would work to reverse the decision if elected President:

Sen. Rick Santorum gave the keynote address to NOM’s Second Annual Marriage Gala in Washington, DC on July 2nd. Sen. Santorum ripped the US Supreme Court for their illegitimate ruling and pledged as president to work to reverse it, saying “this will not stand,” bringing the crowd of nearly 400 people to their feet.

[…] It was announced at the Gala that Sen. Santorum has become the first 2016 presidential candidate to sign NOM’s Presidential Marriage Pledge, promising to take specific actions as president to restore traditional marriage and protect supporters of marriage against attempts to marginalize and punish them.

Wing nut Janet Porter put out a video comparing the SCOTUS ruling to slavery:

Then there’s your average common everyday nutcase like Becky Wegner Rommel who absolutely lost her shit over the decision. You gotta watch this one. It’s full of awesome:

I could go on and on and on, but all you really need to do is pay a modicum of attention to the news and you’ll see plenty of examples. Personally, I’m really enjoying it and hoping the Right keeps freaking out for months to come because it only exposes their bigotry and hatefullness and makes their religion that less attractive.

Given that a majority of Americans support marriage equality these days, these folks are doing nothing to help their image on this issue. If anything they’ll push more people away from Christianity and that can only be a good thing. So keep it up! Let your true colors show! We really appreciate you putting your hate on full display.

Christians are in decline while Unaffiliated are rising fast.

goodnewseveryoneThe folks at the Pew Research Center are back with another study of the religious landscape in the United States and it’s not looking good for Christians

America’s Changing Religious Landscape | Pew Research Center.

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.

Specifically speaking, since the last time they came out with this report in 2007 the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian has dropped nearly 8 percentage points from 78.4% to 70.6% in 2014. That’s still a majority of Americans, but if this trend continues it won’t be that long before that’s no longer the case. Meanwhile, the Unaffiliated — a combination of atheist, agnostic, and “nothing in particular” — has jumped from 16.1% to 22.8% making it the fastest growing group. That works out to around 56 million people.

PF_15.05.05_RLS2_1_310pxthis group — sometimes called religious “nones” — is more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants, according to the new survey. Indeed, the unaffiliated are now second in size only to evangelical Protestants among major religious groups in the U.S.

The number of people self-identifying as Atheists has doubled from 1.6%  to 3.1% and Agnostics are another 4%. That may not sound like much, but there are now more atheists in America than there are Hindus, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, or Jews.

PR_15.05.12_RLS-00

While it’s true that the “nothing in particular” folks make up a majority of the Unaffiliated and many of them still consider themselves spiritual in some way, they’re on the decline as more and more of them come to accept the designation of Atheist or Agnostic.

As the unaffiliated have grown, the internal composition of the religious “nones” has changed. Most unaffiliated people continue to describe themselves as having no particular religion (rather than as being atheists or agnostics), but the “nones” appear to be growing more secular. Atheists and agnostics now account for 31% of all religious “nones,” up from 25% in 2007.

The main driving force in the increase of the Unaffiliated is generational replacement. Older religious folks are dying off while the younger generations just aren’t taking up religion like their parents did, but it’s not the only factor in play.

In addition, people in older generations are increasingly disavowing association with organized religion. About a third of older Millennials (adults currently in their late 20s and early 30s) now say they have no religion, up nine percentage points among this cohort since 2007, when the same group was between ages 18 and 26. Nearly a quarter of Generation Xers now say they have no particular religion or describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up four points in seven years. Baby Boomers also have become slightly but noticeably more likely to identify as religious “nones” in recent years.

As the shifting religious profiles of these generational cohorts suggest, switching religion is a common occurrence in the United States. If all Protestants were treated as a single religious group, then fully 34% of American adults currently have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised. This is up six points since 2007, when 28% of adults identified with a religion different from their childhood faith. If switching among the three Protestant traditions (e.g., from mainline Protestantism to the evangelical tradition, or from evangelicalism to a historically black Protestant denomination) is added to the total, then the share of Americans who currently have a different religion than they did in childhood rises to 42%.

By a wide margin, religious “nones” have experienced larger gains through religious switching than any other group. Nearly one-in-five U.S. adults (18%) were raised in a religious faith and now identify with no religion. Some switching also has occurred in the other direction: 9% of American adults say they were raised with no religious affiliation, and almost half of them (4.3% of all U.S. adults) now identify with some religion. But for every person who has joined a religion after having been raised unaffiliated, there are more than four people who have become religious “nones” after having been raised in some religion. This 1:4 ratio is an important factor in the growth of the unaffiliated population.

The study goes on to mention that interfaith marriages are more common now than they ever have been before and a large part of that is because there’s plenty of Christians out there who are marrying people in the Unaffiliated group.

There’s a lot more detail in the full report which is worth reading, but the upshot of it is that this is an ongoing trend for the better part of a decade that shows no signs of slowing. Given the huge number of Christians out there making an ass of themselves over things such as gay marriage — or making wedding cakes for gays — I fully expect the trend to continue.

Here’s a few more highlights that made me smile:

  • Although it is low relative to other religious groups, the retention rate of the unaffiliated has increased. In the current survey, 53% of those raised as religiously unaffiliated still identify as “nones” in adulthood, up seven points since 2007. And among Millennials, “nones” actually have one of the highest retention rates of all the religious categories that are large enough to analyze in the survey.
  • The percentage of college graduates who identify with Christianity has declined by nine percentage points since 2007 (from 73% to 64%). The Christian share of the population has declined by a similar amount among those with less than a college education (from 81% to 73%). Religious “nones” now constitute 24% of all college graduates (up from 17%) and 22% of those with less than a college degree (up from 16%).
  • The Christian share of the population is declining and the religiously unaffiliated share is growing in all four major geographic regions of the country. Religious “nones” now constitute 19% of the adult population in the South (up from 13% in 2007), 22% of the population in the Midwest (up from 16%), 25% of the population in the Northeast (up from 16%) and 28% of the population in the West (up from 21%). In the West, the religiously unaffiliated are more numerous than Catholics (23%), evangelicals (22%) and every other religious group.
  • More than a quarter of men (27%) now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 20% in 2007. Fewer women are religious “nones,” but the religiously unaffiliated are growing among women at about the same rate as among men. Nearly one-in-five women (19%) now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up from 13% in 2007.

One thing that’s clear is that the increase in the number of atheists and agnostics who are speaking up about their lack of belief is having an impact in changing minds. I suspect that our numbers are actually higher than this study says as a lot of the “no particulars” are probably atheists or agnostics who are “in the closet” for whatever reason. Hell, I’m willing to bet there’s more than a few self-identifying Christians/Muslims/Jews/etc. who are really closeted atheists and agnostics. That makes standing up all the more important.

So keep up the good work,everyone. We’re making a difference!