|Issue of the Day: Atheists & Agnostics|
Published Monday, May 4th, 2009
According to the American Religious Identification survey, those who claimed no religion, atheism or “Nones” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years. Many atheists have started to ‘come out of the closet’ as groups like the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry (South Carolina) have started to advertise. Over the last two decades, 10 national organizations identifying closely with Humanism, Atheism, freethinkers and others have united to form the Secular Coalition for America, complete with lobbying. The movement’s momentum also comes from groups on college campuses called the Secular Student Alliance, which has increased 104 chapters in 6 years to 146 chapters nationwide.
Besides the Muslim religion, Non-believers are the only category to expand; all others decreased by 10ths of a percentage point. Yet nationally, the numbers of the US population who identified their religious self-identification as ‘Nones’ and Atheist have nearly doubled from 8.2% in 1990 to 15.7% in 2008. Historically, “Nones” have concentrated in the West region. However, this pattern has changed dramatically as Nones increased their numbers in all fifty states, something no other religious group can claim. Further research is ongoing to explore whether religious switching is a reason for the “Nones” doubling during the time period.