Fewer Christians, More Atheists April 28, 2009

Fewer Christians, More Atheists

In case you missed it yesterday (I did), this graphic appeared alongside the atheist article in The New York Times:


It’s not brand new info — we knew it last month from the American Religious Identification Survey. But still. Woo!

We should blow that up and frame it.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • AnonyMouse

    I would, but I might get some odd looks from my parents… 😉

  • I’m using that as a travel guide. “Oh, no, sweetie, that’s a tan state. We’re staying out of those.”

  • DeafAtheist

    I’m going to be moving from a 4% state to an 8% at the end of the year.

    I wonder if Wisconsin being the greenest state in the upper midwest has something to do with that state being the HQ for the FFRF?

  • I, my husband, and one of our friends probably make up all three of Mississippi’s +3 percentage points. 🙂

  • skinman

    I’m part of the increase in Colorado. I went from apathetic to agnostic to atheist since 1990.

    And good for Wyoming. A greater than 16% increase for our neghbor to the north. But I’m guessing the number of Wyoming atheists in 1990 probably numbered in the single digits so many that increase isn’t as impressive as I initially thought.

  • Richard Wade

    Don’t use this as a reason to move.

    Keep in mind that this chart is about change in percentage, not size of percentage. The darker colored states may have increased their percentages by adding only a few members to a very small original number, but that was a large increase in percentage. The lighter colored states may have added many new members to an already high original number, but that was still a smaller increase in percentage. There might still be more atheists per capita in California than in Vermont. You need to consult a chart based on present percentage of atheists in the states’ populations.

    When a group claims to be the fastest growing group in the country, it could mean that they had one member and then they got one more. An increase of 100%! Big deal. Now they have two members.

  • Matto the Hun


    I am never inviting you to a party, man.

    But don’t feel bad, I almost never throw parties anyway and not many people come. 😛

    Seriously though… good point.

    Was also wondering how much of that would be actual growth vs. how many people are more comfortable coming out of there atheist closet. So in California, maybe atheists by and large have been out for a while, while in Colorado it may be more recent.

    Either way way though, it’s positive.

  • Richard Wade

    I understand, although I actually can be fun at parties. 😉

    Your point about growth vs. willingness to “come out” is well taken. How many of these are new atheists or newly bold atheists? Maybe that distinction is a fuzzy one, since for many people becoming an atheist is a gradual process, first being “bold” enough to acknowledge it to yourself, and then perhaps a long time later, to affirm it on a survey.

    All of these surveys have to be looked at with a skeptical eye, because they so heavily depend on two things that can lead to inaccuracies: The level of trust the respondents have that their answers will be kept confidential, and the level of understanding that the respondents have for the questions. Given the social and professional hazards, we can assume that some respondents would be less than frank to a pollster about their lack of belief. Confusion about terms is also a serious problem, as we saw in a recent Pew survey where about half of those who identified as “atheists” also said that they believe in some kind of god.

    While I think it’s unfair to say that statisticians make good liars, we can get a lot of nonsense from these polls and surveys if we don’t examine them closely.

  • Matto the Hun

    I understand, although I actually can be fun at parties.

    Ahhh what the hell I’m easy… in light of my admittedly poor parties and social life, I hereby reverse to no-Richard-at-parties ruling *gavel sound*

    Next party will probably be in about 5 yeas, save the date 😛

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