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Survey: Many Americans believe rise in number of non-religious is bad

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  • fredsgirl1 usa, MA
    July 22, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    Jeff of Temple City! I don't believe your arrogance for saying “If you are a professed non-believer, I have no idea what you consider to be right or wrong except that you disavow belief.” is in violation of at least one of the Ten Commandments I am sure.

    My cat knows right from wrong. My neighbor’s dog knows right from wrong. Crows have affection for each other, and look out for the welfare of the flock. And at my last asking none of them are Christian.

    Right and wrong is measured by the harm someone’s actions do to others. Read the Ten Commandments, each one is based on treating people fairly and kindly. However, I don’t need someone to hand me a book telling me what to do. I came fully loaded with all the software necessary. And my parents taught me the rest.

    Man was being loving, kind (and crappy) to each other long before language or religion. Christianity just used those universal behaviours and beliefs and claim property rights for doing so.

  • fredsgirl1 usa, MA
    July 22, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    What on earth do religious people think atheists like me do every day: kill kittens, run over old people, rob banks?

    I probably live a more moral and law abiding life than a lot of Christians. We don't lie, steal, gossip, say hurtful things to or about anybody. We work hard, take care of our family; there when anyone needs help, but otherwise keep to ourselves. My children have never been in trouble with the law, taken drugs, or vandalized. How many Christians can say that?

    I have almost never slapped my children (twice at most) preferring to use words to teach them the right way to behave. We care about our siblings, keep in contact with them. We save abandoned animals, donate to several charities. And a thousand things more. Just like many other non-Christians on this planet.

    Do you think Christians have the monopoly on goodness? Before you start dismissing others for beliefs that are different from yours, you should start re-reading the bible and learn what being a Christian really means. I am convinced that if he returned, your Jesus wouldn't recognize half of you as Christians.

  • LA Mormon West Valley, UT
    July 15, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    The problem with religion is the mission of most religious organizations has fundamentally changed. Churches including the LDS church used to provide a huge number of benefits for society. When I was growing up the LDS church ran a network of hospitals. The Catholic church did as well. In fact the growth of health care and hospital care in the US was largely the result of churches wanting to take care of people's needs. It seems now that modern Christian churches are more concerned about being corporations rather than followers of Christ. Churches now are nothing more than mouth pieces for political issues. It seems that many church meetings are nothing more than a gathering of the Republican party at least where I live. If churches number one goal is to get involved in political issues like Prop 8 in California then they can do without me.

    Churches must work to make society better, not drive people apart. All churches should support social equality and social justice, instead many churches have chosen to promote hatred and discrimination both in their words and deeds. Churches serve no purpose when they do that and Americans are right to distance themselves from them.

  • Lightening Lad Austin , TX
    July 13, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    I doubt that those taking the study fully understood the questions. Why would any members of the most outwardly zealous religious group actually vote that it's a good thing for more and more people rejecting religion altogether? If we have a problem with the many different groups within America it's because so many wish to impose their rules on those outside their own faith with Islamics and Evangelicals the most obvious. Shouldn't our goal be to reject divisive religion while trying to incorporate spirituality to a greater degree in all of our lives. If we follow the teachings of Christ, his actually words, we will treat each other better, we will assist the poor and unfortunate and be greater examples for good, becoming as a result more spiritual beings. Having millions of various groups sure they are right and having God's authority to force feed their rules to others causes us to splinter, argue, and refuse to respect other traditions. I have never experienced as much negativity and meanness as when I have heard some describe the beliefs of churches other than the one they are part of. Can't we just get along?

  • What I Would Tell A Friend Salt Lake City, UT
    July 12, 2013 8:47 p.m.

    postaledith:
    Your family may not get the "love your neighbor as yourself" idea. Or, they might; I don't know. I have noticed that God does the same thing to me when I don't do as he commands. In God's case, it isn't actually saying He doesn't love me, but rather that I need to think about the choices I'm making. The love is supposed to go both ways. I need to consider how God, or my family, sees things as well. And let's say, because I love my daughter, that I teach her not to do specific things which I know will be to her detriment, but she chooses to do them anyway. How am I supposed to feel? I have actually had such situations lately with my teenage daughter, so I know where I'm coming from. I'm not perfect, and I acknowledge that while trying my best. But if for some reason she openly rejects my counsel, it will be difficult to deal with her as though nothing has changed, if for no other reason than that I have feelings as well, which she has chosen to ignore.

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    July 12, 2013 8:29 p.m.

    For what it's worth--I recognize it likely won't change anyone's mind:

    I am LDS. To be brief, I was once much further away from being an example of living the religion than I might be now. But part of what has inspired me to do try harder is the examples of a few LDS acquaintances that live their religion with exactness. With uniformity, they are the finest people I have met while interacting with people from (and in) a number of nations and societies. I have yet to meet anyone outside of the church that measures up to these acquaintances, and the vast majority of LDS frankly do not either--myself included, to this point. And, while I am not there yet, I can see that consistent effort to adhere to church teachings has made me a significantly better spouse/parent/person over time. For myself, that simply would not have happened if I had let go and chosen my own path. The validity of the LDS Church, to me, is in the lives of those who live its principles the best. And thus, I recognize the obligation I have to do so as well.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    July 12, 2013 4:51 p.m.

    re: Jeff 7/7

    "Simply: Individuals cannot take upon themselves the right to define morality."

    Really? but religions can?

    Religions are nothing more than political party based on the belief & opinion of 1 guy.

  • postaledith Freeland, WA
    July 11, 2013 2:58 p.m.

    My personal problem with religion is all my life it's been "we'll love you if....". How about the fact that I'm your daughter, sister, aunt, cousin? The rejection I've had has left a very bad taste in my mouth.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 11, 2013 11:11 a.m.

    Brahmabull


    "The DNA evidence doesn't add up. You can argue it all you want, but the experts have said it isn't possible. they are experts in DNA, not you. Not me either. You have to follow the evidence, and if you don't you are making a wrong conclusion."

    If a person depends on the learning of men they will never find the truth

    O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves,(2 Ne 9:28)

  • Kate Hutch Kenmore, WA
    July 10, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    Jeff...your criteria are that once a large group agree upon something, it is deemed moral. So....the Nazis were a large group of people who deemed themselves the moral compass of their time. The crusades saw thousands killed in the name of religion. Moral people? You say you 'reject' someone else's claim of morality because they are not members of a large religious group. How about those priests who molested children. Moral people?
    Who is more moral? The man who goes to church and then comes home and beats his wife or the man who treats his family with kindness and compassion, but is an atheist?

    Here is a quote to ponder:

    "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    Steven Weinberg, quoted in The New York Times, April 20, 1999
    US physicist (1933 - )

  • Kate Hutch Kenmore, WA
    July 10, 2013 2:16 p.m.

    That part of the bible that tells us the *love of money is the root of ALL evil* is not taken seriously. In fact, many religious people act as if making money IS a Christian goal and if you are not good at it, you are a bad person, as if being poor is the same as being immoral. Jesus did not seem to think so, but Mitt Romney does. And then they rail against homosexuality as if THAT was the root of all evil, even though that is not a choice a person makes freely. They either are homosexual or they are not. It is not moral or immoral. It just is.
    And last I looked, 48% if the people who think lack of religion is a bad thing is still less than half, so this article is miscontrued. It does not even qualify as 'most' people, since it is less than half.

  • Kate Hutch Kenmore, WA
    July 10, 2013 2:14 p.m.

    A person can be moral, kind, conscientious and honest without being religious. It is all in the teaching. In fact, those who are good stewards of the earth that Our Creator has provided to us, I would argue, are MORE moral than those who would pollute our environment creating unhealthy living conditions for the human race and all The Creator's creatures.

    As ChuckGG states so well, going to church Sunday and everything else involved in church social life fulfills a need for socializing, as well as consistency and tradition, in making people feel safe. Meeting together helps people become familiar with one another and that is how trust develops. It's unfortunate that so many religious leaders use their perceived positions of power to do the most un-Christian things imaginable and live in mansions and drive expensive cars, which is SO not what Jesus was about.

  • xert Santa Monica, CA
    July 10, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    Another way to look at this is 51% of America is okay with a rise in non-religiousity. And the more the Bible thumpers thump, the less that young people want to be around them. Expect the numbers of those who refuse to claim a religion to rise. Unfortunately, the good Christian people of this nation have allowed the Fred Phelp's--the Rush Limbaughs--the Glen Becks, the Jerry Fallwells, the Jimmy Swaggarts and the Pat Robertsons of the world to hold hold our Fathers message hostage and frame it in their own terms. Too many angry, white old men (and women) have allowed (and encouraged) this. Now they are dying off and the vast majority of young America doesn't seem to want to take up their sometimes red hot cross. I believe in God and I consider myself a moral and spiritual person, but I totally understand the mindset of an atheist, an agnostic, or a person who's simply had enough of religion in all it's forms. I expect that if God were to look down on this mess that mankind has made of religion in his name, he/she'd understand too.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    July 10, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    Elucidation:

    When I typed "I prefer the former" it referred back to the first sentence in my opinion; that is to say I prefer a moral atheist to a hypocritical church attendee. Added to that I typed that I like most of all, however, the religious individual who cleaves to, and lives, a religious code of the highest and noblest standards.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 10, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    zoar63

    The DNA evidence doesn't add up. You can argue it all you want, but the experts have said it isn't possible. they are experts in DNA, not you. Not me either. You have to follow the evidence, and if you don't you are making a wrong conclusion.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    July 10, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    A/The Scientist

    Maybe the folks you know don’t leave the door open, but I think most out here understand this point.

    If love for the Lord becomes "derivative and condescending" when we serve others for that reason (at least initially) then is it so for every act we do as a favor to a loved one? Even if, in the process, we learn to love those whom we serve?

    If acts of service that are, at least at first, inspired by religious duty are suspect, then do we disregard the acts of Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, etc.?

    The morals "imposed" by religion are "pseudo-morals"? Like the ten commandments?

    As to "the solo route". That was in direct answer to my ongoing conversation with Brahamabull.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    July 10, 2013 7:43 a.m.

    I suppose there are both atheists who believe in the morality of Judaeo-Christianity and mainstream world religions, and those who attend churches habitually without living the morality. Many believe in a god that is permissive or one who forgives without real repentance. I prefer the former if anything but my favorite people of all are those who live a moral and pure religion without hypocrisy.

    However anyone who lives a moral life I would be glad to call a friend. If all our politicians were such people what a difference that would make! If they all supported life, liberty and property there would be no wars except defensive wars and no one would speak blithely about "collateral damage" in a conflict. Republicans and Democrats would not so readily embark on 'yet another conflict'; there would be no more legal abortions of convenience. There would be no stealing by political bodies under the guise of benevolence, and we would be free to make our own decisions unless we decide to take away the life, liberty or property of another by force.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 9, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    @Wallypacker

    "The Mormons say that Indians are lost Jews. DNA says something else and very convincingly."

    They are looking in the wrong DNA pool. The Book of Mormon say’s Lehi was descended from Manasseh . Joseph had two sons Ephraim and Manasseh. Joseph’s wife was Egyptian. Joseph’s descendants carried in their genes Egyptian and Hebrew DNA. There is really no such thing as Jewish DNA since the Jews were just one of twelve tribes. Lehi fled Jerusalem as commanded by the Lord and afterwards inhabitants of Jerusalem were destroyed by Babylon. The survivors were taken captive back to Babylon where no doubt they mingled their DNA with their Babylonian captors.

    If Asian DNA resembles native American DNA then the scientists should consult the OLD Testament and should go back and try and find DNA that originated in ancient Egypt. Africa would be a good starting place. It would be interesting to research Asian history to see if Egyptians were trading with Asians and also intermarrying with them.

    Native Americans not showing the presence of Jewish DNA really does not prove anything.

    Ref Gen 46:20, Alma 10:3

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    July 9, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    Semi-Strong wrote:

    "I thought I left that door pretty open in one of my prior posts."

    Most believers I have met do NOT leave that door open. I witness it every week in LDS meetings with my LDS wife.

    "...those I see most motivated to serve...do so...out of love. Love for the Lord they serve. Love for the people they serve and for those they serve with."

    "Love for the Lord" is not genuine love for people per se; rather, it renders genuine love for others derivative and condescending: a dutiful and obedient response to the command "love one another" (typically coupled with a disregard for "love your enemies").

    "But then you appear to admit that it does in fact happen."

    No, I do not admit that societies fall due to loss of religion. Nor do I think a sincere look at history would find support for such a religio-centric claim. The alleged "slipping of morals" to which you refer is merely a slipping from the pseudo-"morals" imposed by religion.

    "...without anyone else?...I certainly understand the solo route..."

    Whoever said atheism/secularism is a "solo route"?

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    July 9, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    A/The Scientist

    I agree that many atheists have good hearts. I thought I left that door pretty open in one of my prior posts.

    I think the concept that the religious do what they do out of fear or to put credits on the spiritual tab is overblown. Certainly some do. But those I see most motivated to serve (and who serve relentlessly) do so neither out of fear or the keeping of some heavenly account. But rather out of love. Love for the Lord they serve. Love for the people they serve and for those they serve with.

    Thanks for the support, but no I am not that old (some would beg to differ). I am looking just from my childhood in the 50s & 60s to now. But then you appear to admit that it does in fact happen.

    Note I did not say that societies rise and fall this way (much longer timeframe). Rather that the loss of religion comes first and then the slipping of morals.

    I assume my opinion is as humble as yours. Peace.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    July 9, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    Brahmabull

    In my work, we have folks who verify and challenge other’s work product. Allowing folks to monitor only sometimes works well. We are often unwilling to challenge our assumptions. Most of us reassess as we serve folks and serve with others. We crib their ideas and listen to their advice.

    Could we ponder it all on our own and learn it without anyone else? Maybe. But that is not what I see. I think the solo route often can lead to being satisfied with where we are rather than looking forward. And, we can learn not just from the strong but from the most vulnerable we serve. They have powerful truths to teach.

    I certainly understand the solo route. It is my preference as well. But in retrospect, I just don’t find it has been as demanding as my interactions with others.

    It’s not about others confirming my beliefs (I am generally okay there and that is, for me, very private). It’s about my realizing that I have another gear to engage and to advance more than I had thought possible. To learn and to grow.

    Peace.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    July 9, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    Twin Lights wrote:

    "But my experience is that as societies lose religion, they slowly lose the moral foundation. It doesn't happen overnight but it does eventually happen."

    So, you must be several centuries old, and have "experienced" a large enough number of societies rise and fall (due, in your humble opinion, to loss of religion)?

    Do tell...

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    July 9, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    "There is NO doubt that having a good heart is key."

    Countless atheists have good hearts. No god needed.

    Indeed, who has the truly genuine "good heart" - the one who does good because of "fear of The Lord" or "to earn blessings in heaven", or the one who does good for the sake of doing good?

  • snowyphile Jemez Springs, NM
    July 9, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    My wife is Buddhist. Her variant is practical, about supporting your family and behaving yourself. Her visits to a temple are few and far between, but she never errs. Imagine what society would be like if it were all saints.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 9, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    Twin Lights

    Point taken, I agree with you. The thing is for some people, I think an increasing number of people, they don't need others to bolster or challenge their beliefs. They do it themselves. If you are spiritual without religion and a church building to go to it is a more pure thing. You don't have everybody else influencing you on what you should and should not believe. You can ponder and decide these things on your own, free of outside influence. I can see many people need others to confirm their beliefs, and make them stronger as not to stray. But if your beliefs are strong enough, shouldn't you be able to stand on your own?

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    July 8, 2013 6:46 p.m.

    Brahmabull,

    Twin Lights here.

    I understand but I disagree. If one truly believes the story of Joseph Smith or of Paul or of Moses, then these lead to certain critical beliefs about life, eternity and what actions are expected of us.

    There is NO doubt that having a good heart is key. “The captains and the kings depart. Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, An humble and a contrite heart.”

    AND

    “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”

    Honestly, I question the “you can be spiritual without being religious” concept. I think we can do so for certain periods, but our spiritual development ultimately requires interaction with other believers to both serve and to challenge our assumptions. I have never been impressed that the monastic life serves most folks well. The same translates (to a degree) to our solo navigation of the spiritual world.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 8, 2013 2:22 p.m.

    Twin Lights

    "But thoughts and beliefs lead inexorably to actions"

    I agree that thoughts lead to actions, but not the beliefs part. At least to the degree that believing the Joseph Smith story doesn't equal one having good actions. Even believing the bible doesn't lead to good actions. You must have a good heart. Again, like you said, it goes both ways. There are bad and good in both the believing and non believing categories. Religion helps some, it hurts others. Lack of religion helpls some, hurts others. I still think that if a person is generally good of heart then religion won't make a difference. You can be spiritual without being religious.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 8, 2013 2:14 p.m.

    It is sad to hear Bible thumpers lecture about morals, if they would read the Bible they would learn it is for the most part a fictional history of immorality.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 8, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    Brahmabull,

    Agreed. But thoughts and beliefs lead inexorably to actions. Sure there are religious folks who do not treat folks well and vice versa. But overall, the religious I know (in a variety of faith traditions) do get better at how they treat others. Certainly it can take some time.

    I-am-I

    No, it does not hold true all of the time. And I know non-religious folks who are quite moral.

    But my experience is that as societies lose religion, they slowly lose the moral foundation. It doesn't happen overnight but it does eventually happen. The ship loosed from anchor does not speed away but drifts.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    July 8, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    I think what you do is vastly more important than what you believe. I think people will be punished for bad deeds in the afterlife, and rewarded for good. I don't see people being punished for 'not believing' something. That is just rediculous. Again, it is all about what you do, not what you believe. What do you think is better? A religious person who believes but treats you bad, or a person who doesn't believe and treats you well... I know who I would think is in a better position.

  • I-am-I South Jordan, UT
    July 8, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    I suppose the religious subscribe to the idea that religious equals moral. This would explain the feeling that less religious people equals less moral people and ever less moral society. This idea of religious equals moral does not appear to hold true all of the time. At the same time let's not pretend that non religious, atheist, agnostic do equal moral.

    I identify as both religious and spiritual. I also identify as an intellectual and I believe the scientific method to be very useful but as an intellectual I have to say it is flawed. It tries (emphasis on "tries") to understand only that which can be observed. The scientific method is great, but it is what it is, one method for understanding the existence. Simple logic would say why narrow your pursuit of understanding to one method when several are at your finger tips and can be used simultaneously? I guess the answer is that you do not believe them to be beneficial, but believing so puts one in a similar position to the religious extreme that doubt reason. As I see it reason and religion/spirituality must exist together in same way or another.

  • EternalPerspective Eldersburg, MD
    July 8, 2013 4:34 a.m.

    There is no coincidence in the timing and effect of events that moved America from a country of pioneering nation builders to generations detached from that period, who revel in prosperity and the associated pride that wisdom now trumps the laws and ways of God.

    Those who do not believe say it is "enlightenment" that has caused the abandonment of organized religion, whose impetus is a vastly changed culture that no longer needs the "man-made" sale of religion. Rather, focus on intellectual and innovative marvels of human engineering has removed the "wool" from the eyes concerning the "ignorance" of religion.

    But, how enlightened are a people who are drowning in the sorrows of addiction, violence, selfishness, sexual deviancy, and other dangerous behaviors that most certainly have obvious consequences or are of themselves the same?

    While it can be argued that results from fruits of prosperity have improved convenience and worldly knowledge, the same cannot be said that abandonment from organized religion and God has created a greater quality of life and meaningful existence.

    In fact, it is quite the contrary, where such trends have given rise to more sorrow, anger, and lack of fulfillment than ever before.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    July 8, 2013 12:44 a.m.

    "non-believers' morality is suspect because they formulate it themselves "

    "Whether or not you agree with religions (or governments or even quasi-religious philosophies), they gain their authority for definitions from their numbers."

    You are absolutely wrong, Jeff.

    What you are proposing is that morality can be dictated by majorities, that if a majority says it is moral then it is, or conversely if a majority deems something immoral then it is.

    That borders on madness.

    As a rational thinking human, I get to determine what is moral for myself. You seem to want to base your personal morality on what someone else tells you morality is. You want to forfeit the ability for thought and determination. Such is your right.

    But I reserve the right to determine for myself what is moral. I sure don't need a religion and the men that have created them to tell me what is moral. And I sure don't need a vote of the people.

    Where I gain my insight into morality also is up to me, be it religious or secular.

    That is freedom.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    July 7, 2013 11:02 p.m.

    Mark,

    Simply: Individuals cannot take upon themselves the right to define morality.

    You do not grant me any authority to define morality for the same reason I do not grant it to you or to my atheist friends: we are only individuals; we represent no one but ourselves.

    Whether or not you agree with religions (or governments or even quasi-religious philosophies), they gain their authority for definitions from their numbers. Individuals may not speak for the multitude unless the multitude gives them authority to do so. Even in pluralistic societies like America, we insist that our consensus on morality be established by the largest numbers possible.

    I also submit that it may even be dangerous for individuals to believe that "not government, not religion, has a right to force any concept of morality on any of us." The news is full of people whose individual morality is anything but innocent, and I hope either government or religion may put a check on others like them.

    Without the consensus that religion may provide, we are in danger of breaking apart from our own centrifugal individualism.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 7, 2013 10:30 p.m.

    @Jeff – “Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius were believers… Spinoza was Jewish--a believer”

    The Buddha was virtually silent on questions of metaphysics but we know he didn’t believe we had souls (i.e., no atman). And to not know the difference (with Spinoza) between ethnicity and what the man actually wrote is simply… well, I’ll be nice… but c’mon man… at least try.

    As to the rest, including your complete non-sequitur conclusion let me just say 1) please consult a dictionary because “well-being of conscious creatures” is about as simple as I can make it, and 2) again, please read up on the folks you are attempting to discuss. Hume and Harris could and did construct entire moral philosophies without ever lifting a word from the Bible. In fact Harris demonstrates repeatedly the immorality often involved with religious belief and his views are as close to objective morality as we can come (without positing a “Big Brother” in the sky) and are a far cry from the moral relativism you imply for non-believers.

    And if pushing against religion somehow makes them believers, well again, please look up the term “non-sequitur.”

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 7, 2013 9:48 p.m.

    @Jeff – “Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius were believers… Spinoza was Jewish--a believer”

    The Buddha was virtually silent on questions of metaphysics and we know he didn’t believe we had souls (i.e., no atman). And to not know the difference (with Spinoza) between ethnicity and what the man actually wrote is simply… well, I’ll be nice… but c’mon man… at least try.

    As to the rest, including your complete non-sequitur conclusion let me just say 1) please consult a dictionary because “well-being of conscious creatures” is about as simple as I can make it, and 2) again, please read up on the folks you are attempting to discuss. Hume and Harris could and did construct entire moral philosophies without ever lifting a word from the Bible. In fact Harris demonstrates repeatedly the immorality of the God of Abraham religions and his views are as close to objective morality as we can come (without positing a “Big Brother” in the sky) and are a far cry from the moral relativism you imply for non-believers.

    And if pushing against religion somehow makes them believers, well again, please look up the term “non-sequitur.”

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    July 7, 2013 8:28 p.m.

    (Darn it, hit the submit button)

    Anyway, some religious people see watching tv as immoral, some do not. Some see contraceptives as immoral, some do not. Some see certain swear words as immoral others. . .

    Well, anyway, you get the point.

    So where are we?

    I don't see your authority to define morality, and you don't see mine. I see no moral consistency within the religious community, you see no consistency within atheists.

    Perhaps, we can see that morality is not for others to decide for us. We truly get to choose are own morality. And we get to choose where we find guidance for our understanding of morality. Be it religion, philosophy, friends, parents, etc, each of us gets to find guidance for our own morality as best suits us.

    That is freedom.

    And as long actions do not directly harm others no one, not government, not religion, has a right to force any concept of morality on any of us.

    "Of course it is bad for society that the number of religious people is declining."

    Of course it's not bad for society, rustymom. You know how I know? Because I am not bad for society.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    July 7, 2013 8:10 p.m.

    Jeff, I think you are trying to be sincere and thoughtful, and I applaud you for that, however, I think your analysis is seriously flawed.

    You talk about not granting your atheist friends the authority to define morality. That's fine, but, on the flip side, I also do not recognize your authority, or any religion's, to define morality either.

    You seem to argue for religious moral authority thus: What is moral to one is not moral to another, and they often disagree on what constitutes morality. The lack of a focused, organized religion means--in a secular sense--the lack of a focused, organized definition of morality.

    Perhaps. But, again, on the flip side, I see no focused organized religious definition of morality. Religions differ drastically on what they define as moral. For instance some religions see it as okay to stone people, the bible itself calls for this, others see that as immoral. Some see drinking as immoral, others do not. Some religious

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    July 7, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    @ Wastintime:

    I can see that I need to make a clarification.

    The discussion in these threads is not whether or not a particular belief system has moral authority, but whether or not it is good for America that people are abandoning religion in general. I make it no secret that I believe in Mormonism, but I would use that as only an example of how someone may determine pretty accurately where I stand on whether or not something is a moral issue.

    By "non-believing friends," I did not mean non-Mormons, but atheists and agnostics who claim that they can be moral without religion. I do not dispute that.

    My statement about their lack of authority to define morality is meant to emphasize the extreme individualism of my non-believing friends. Each personally claims morality, but each defines it differently from the others. By contrast, most practicing Mormons define morality in a similar way; and, indeed, most practicing members of any religion (or organized philosophical belief) do the same.

    Individual non-believers (non-adherents to an organized belief system) lack authority to define morality precisely because they insist on absolute individualism.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    July 7, 2013 5:37 p.m.

    @ Tyler D: Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius were believers. Note, that I didn't say what specific thing a believer believes in, but they had formal, fixed systems of belief that they followed. Spinoza was Jewish--a believer. I'm not a fan of Hume or Harris.

    Let's grant that "the well being of conscious creatures" is a moral standard. Now, define "well being." What standard do you use for "well being."

    Even in this context, define "conscious." Do you mean plants? Do you accept that inanimate objects have a consciousness or a spirit? If so, what do you do when their well being conficts with someone else's?

    As you see, your attempt at defining morality is inadequate without an anchoring belief system. Even in the case of Hume (and probably Harris, though I suspect he won't admit to it) there is a foundation of Christianity against which they push, giving them an organized center to rail against (if railing is what Hume really did).

    No, I stand by what I previously said: non-believers' morality is suspect because they formulate it themselves (with their own private definitions).

  • Wallypacker Orem, UT
    July 7, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    Organized religion has such a bad track record. "Flat Earth" has happened too many times. Not to mention the inquisition, etc. The Mormons say that Indians are lost Jews. DNA says some anthing else and very convincingly. Religion is just an excuse to control people.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    July 6, 2013 5:06 p.m.

    @Jeff

    " What I don't grant to my non-believing friends is any authority to define morality."

    Really Jeff, which nonbelieving friends of yours have asked for the authority to define morality? And since you're not granting them any authority, then certainly you do not expect to be granted any authority yourself (or through your church) to define morality either I hope.

    Many nonreligious groups organize to achieve good social purposes every day, arguably more effectively than religions. What religion has cured a disease? Further, it is much easier to discern what a utilitarian, for example, believes than say a Mormon since utilitarianism does not change but Mormonism can change on a dime depending on the latest prophetic pronouncement.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 6, 2013 5:06 p.m.

    @Jeff – “What I don't grant to my non-believing friends is any authority to define morality.”

    This sure does leave out a whole host of folks who have had a lot to say about ethics… folks like Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Spinoza, Hume, not to mention current writers like Sam Harris – The Moral Landscape is one of the most coherent books on morality I’ve read and yet it is entirely free of superstition or tablets chiseled from on high.

    @Jeff – “If you are a professed non-believer, I have no idea what you consider to be right or wrong except that you disavow belief.”

    How about simply the well-being of conscious creatures… see, it’s not so hard.

    And to turn the tables a bit, I hardly think “because God commands it” stacks up as even moral given some of the awful things “God” has commanded throughout the centuries (see Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy for examples galore).

    @ Twin Lights

    Great quote!

    We should have a long discussion sometime…

  • sjc layton, UT
    July 6, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    "God" forbid people would begin to use their own minds instead of believing in some silly books designed to control and dominate those viewed as inferior by the ruling class.

    Religion poisons everything.

  • Rustymommy Clovis, NM
    July 6, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    Of course it is bad for society that the number of religious people is declining. However, no matter what people said in this survey, I think the majority of them voted with their mouth and not with their behavior. Every crime committed breaks a religious law of some kind. Every affair breaks the commandment not to commit adultery. Every person who eats out or shops on Sunday forces some employee to not keep the Sabbath Day holy. Every person who provides incorrect information on their tax return is both lying and cheating. If you frequently start a sentence with the words "I hate", then you may be forgetting to love your neighbor. The list could go on almost forever.

    I'm not perfect. Nobody is. But when we say that lack of religion is bad for society, we need to remember that not everybody who ignores religion is an atheist or agnostic. Most people who are not living what they believe to be right still consider themselves to be religious.

    A better question my have been, "Is rationalizing your behavior bad for society?"

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    July 6, 2013 2:59 p.m.

    The great secular benefit of organized religion is its ability to focus people's behaviors (usually good behaviors) around a central social core.

    The great secular difficulty of irreligion or non-belief is its failure to do exactly that.

    I grant to my non-believing friends that believers have no corner on morality--even morality as defined by my religious beliefs. What I don't grant to my non-believing friends is any authority to define morality. What is moral to one is not moral to another, and they often disagree on what constitutes morality.

    The lack of a focused, organized religion means--in a secular sense--the lack of a focused, organized definition of morality.

    If you want to know what I believe to be right and wrong, all you need to do is understand my religion and measure it against my personal belief in it. If you are a professed non-believer, I have no idea what you consider to be right or wrong except that you disavow belief.

  • moniker lewinsky Taylorsville, UT
    July 6, 2013 2:55 p.m.

    Once again the Deseret News shows its bias. Including one comment from an atheist that is disparaging toward atheists? Nice touch.
    My atheism has nothing to do with being snarky or judgmental toward believers I don't live my life as if there is a deity because I see no evidence of one. I don't pray because I don't want "god" to waste his energy helping me while children across the globe are starving to death.
    I'm sorry if this offends some people, but I am not responsible for the ills of society.

    I suppose that believers give more if you consider contributions to churches as "charitable giving". I don't necessarily think that all contributions to churches fall within the range of charity.

    I don't know why so many people think that bigotry toward atheists is more socially acceptable than bigotry toward any one particular religion. Maybe some day this will change and then atheists will feel less defensive and will "get over themselves".

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 6, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    I understand. I think that God is in both the gaps and the well understood. Science is simply how He works. From Brother Brigham:

    "I am not astonished that infidelity prevails to a great extent among the inhabitants of the earth, for the religious teachers of the people advance many ideas and notions for truth which are in opposition to and contradict facts demonstrated by science, and which are generally understood. You take, for instance, our geologists . . . say, 'If the Lord, as religionists declare, made the earth out of nothing in six days, six thousand years ago, our studies are all in vain; but by what we can learn from nature and the immutable laws of the Creator as revealed therein, we know that your theories are incorrect and consequently we must reject your religions as false and vain; we must be what you call infidels, with the demonstrated truths of science in our possession; or, rejecting those truths, become enthusiasts in, what you call, Christianity.' In these respects we differ from the Christian world, for our religion will not clash with or contradict the facts of science in any particular."

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 2:04 p.m.

    "Perhaps the lesson to be learned from studying The Book of Mormon would be the pride cycle and what happened when the people or great majority of those individuals turned a way from God."

    Quite the contrary - I was born and bred in the church and it was a careful, focused, prayerful and earnest study of both the Bible and the BoM that convinced me that all religions are simply human creations designed to help us cope with our fear of mortality. It was an amazing awakening.

    Others have said it but it bears repeating - the best way to become an atheist is to carefully read the Bible. When you realize that the Bible cannot possibly be divine in its origins then you realize that neither could the Book of Mormon.

    That 80% of the American public are religious is not a surprise - we've got centuries of social inertia to deal with. It's that only half of the public sees the decline in religiosity to be a bad thing that strikes me as interesting.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 6, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    @eastcoastcoug

    You have chosen a convenient period of time (the 20th century) to make your silly straw man argument that religious people are not responsible for all crime, war and hate. Who made that they are?

    If we take into account all of human history (including the Crusades, Middle-East violence, American history, etc), it is clear that religious people are no better in any way than non-religious people and vice versa.

  • postaledith Freeland, WA
    July 6, 2013 1:29 p.m.

    The increase of non-religious people does not surprise me in the least. There are too many people out there that run around with blinders on in the name of their religion and they turn their backs on people who don't fit their mold. I don't consider myself a religious person, yet I believe I'm a good person. I respect my family's beliefs, but I don't practice them. Because of that, there are some in my family that will have nothing to do with me and have cut me off completely, including my own daughter. Am I bitter? You betcha.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    July 6, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    If you took away all Religion from the world, you would still have crime, war and hate. Look at the biggest wars in history (e.g. the 20th century) who were led by people of no religion at all. Don't blame Jesus just because people sometimes don't know how to implement what He taught. It's real hard to forgive and love unconditionally, but it is the only way to heal and unwind hate. We've tried revenge. It never works.

    Atheist led USSR and Nazi Germany, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, etc. all have shown that the experiment of removing God didn't remove our natural desire to conquer, kill and control.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    July 6, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    I don't have a problem with people believing or not believing, it is the anger and stereotypes some have on both fringes that disturbs me. Some religious people act like anyone who doesn't believe like they do are going to end up in hell and some atheists act like anyone who believes lacks a brain and can't possibly believe in Science.

    So for me, it comes down to how we treat one another and acting with respect. I believe Atheists can still be caring, good people, and feel that Believers can use their faith to help others. I believe one day we will know for sure whether there is a God and an afterlife. I've had experiences in my life, living and traveling abroad that suggest to me there is a Supreme Being. I also am an avid student of Science, History and Human Behavior. I love my family and friends who don't believe and hope we can have a respectful, intelligent dialog.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 6, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    The (Baylor) sociologists’ study, published in the journal Criminology, also showed young adults in a fourth category—who say they are neither spiritual nor religious—are less likely to commit property crimes than the “spiritual but not religious” individuals. But no difference was found between the two groups when it came to violent crimes."

    So should the takeaway be that it is worse to be spiritual but not religious than to be neither spiritual nor religious?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 6, 2013 11:58 a.m.

    A March 2009 academic article by Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College, is entitled "Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions" cites detailed studies of the areas in question.
    Zuckerman analyzed a wide array of data comparing religious nations to less religious nations and also, interestingly, religious states within the United States (i.e. "Bible-belt" states) to less religious states.

    Citing four different studies, Zuckerman states: "Murder rates are actually lower in more secular nations and higher in more religious nations where belief in God is widespread." He also states: "Of the top 50 safest cities in the world, nearly all are in relatively non-religious countries."

    Zuckerman writes: "And within America, the states with the highest murder rates tend to be the highly religious, eg. Louisiana and Alabama, but the states with the lowest murder rates tend to be the among the least religious in the country, eg. Vermont and Oregon."

    A 1999 Barna study found that atheists and agnostics actually have lower divorce rates than religious Americans.

    He also cites another study, in Canada, that found conservative Christian women experienced higher rates of domestic violence than non-affiliated women.

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 11:48 a.m.

    Modern organized religions walk, talk and quack more like big businesses devoted to market share, long term growth and the income statement bottom line than to actual worship. They have accounting, HR and marketing departments just like any other large business.

    For many, I think they are deciding to retain their beliefs and faith but do so away from the modern church meetinghouses. People realize they can be a good, moral person without some spiritual leader showing the way.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 6, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    When organized religion stops secretly buying up the best farmland in America I'll feel better. I think all religions (and all charities for that matter) should disclose their financial affairs so we can see what is really important to their leaders.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    July 6, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    @Twin Lights – “The concept that science and logic somehow "belong" to the non-religious is simply irrational.”

    I think what frustrates many non-believers is the propensity of believers to insert God into the gaps (of what science has not yet figured out). And this has been going on since recorded history and the success rate for religion is not good, while for science it is stellar.

    At some point I think it quite rational for people to question the entire religious enterprise based on this historical competition between two ways of knowing.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 6, 2013 10:28 a.m.

    George of the jungle, it's pretty simple. I experience evidence of gravity.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    July 6, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    So, not believing in something that nobody can prove with empirical evidence is a bad thing? Really? You have got to be kidding me. To me, worrying about the beliefs of others rather than keeping it a personal matter is "bad." When it comes to religion, it is an exercise in group participation and validation because it is hard to truly believe in the unseeable on your own, but somehow, if you can get someone else to believe in the same things, it gives it the illusion of reality.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 6, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    10CC,

    Science has less been at odds with religion than it has with religious institutions (not to pick on them, but often it was the catholic church simply by virtue of history). But there have been many very religious scientists. Newton is my favorite. I don’t give much credence to speculation about the time of the second coming and right now I just don’t have a lot of time. But someday I will read his examination of the topic with great interest.

    Reference the church and homosexuality, I think there are certain clear limits. There was an understanding that the priesthood would be extended (the timeframe was unknown). Gender roles have been clearly mapped out via the Proclamation and other statements.

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    Another way to write "Almost half of all Americans say recent growth in the number of non-religious people is a bad thing for society" is

    More than half of all Americans say recent growth in the number of non-religious people is NOT a bad thing for society.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    re: ChuckGG

    "This is a far cry from my parents' day where Sunday church was the one time to get away from the farm, meet, socialize, and get the news. Today's youth have the same need but it is met elsewhere. Also, the whole "hocus pocus" of religion is far less believable by educated and aware young people"

    Spot on.

    What the Title and survey means to me is there are people who don't trust Organized Religion.

    I know since abandoning O R and going w/ a chimera or Deism, Gnosticism, & Taoism that I have a better attitude about myself and the world.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    Twin Lights:

    I agree with your basic view that religion and science are not mutually exclusive, but certainly throughout history science has been at odds with religion, and scientific insights have absolutely resulted in evolution of theology.

    We're seeing this before our eyes, right now. The LDS church's view on homosexuality has come a loooong way, and now LDS are comparatively "progressive" on the topic, at least compared to the Southern Baptists, on the issue of the Boy Scouts.

    This is a good thing, but there is a limit to how quickly religions can adjust their ideology.

    The Civil War helped American Christianity pivot on the issue of whether slavery is sanctioned by the Bible or not. How quickly might the LDS church further evolve on the issue of homosexuality?

    I don't know, but changing fundamental understandings of how gender relates to the theological message is a more thorny issue than just making the priesthood available to all worthy males. My hunch is there would need to be a revelation on giving females the priesthood before homosexuality can be fully accepted.

    But, we move forward. And that's good.

  • Mr.Glass Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    The rise in the number of non-religious people is a good thing. Those who believe otherwise have been indoctrinated by religion. Indeed, children are indoctrinated to believe that people are incapable of living moral lives without believing in a supernatural being and creator of the universe. Monotheists are taught to believe that the Bible is the supreme book to consult for moral living, despite the abundant evidence from the Bible showing that God as the main character tells his people to commit genocide, kill others for disobeying the sabbath and for believing in different Gods, and kill disobedient sons. Thankfully, most Christians and Jews ignore those parts or absurdly explain them away.

    I think non-believers who meet like the religious is a great idea. What people truly need and benefit from is meeting together as a community and discuss moral excellence. Moral philosophy grounded in reason and common sense makes more sense than religious dogma grounded in unquestioning obedience.

    Don't believe what the religious say about the non-religious. You don't need to believe in a supernatural being or miracles to live a good, nor do you need superstition.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    Of course most of America thinks the rise in the number of non-religious is a bad thing. When I was religious I thought the same thing.

    My assumption was that unless you believed in heaven and "heck", there was no reason to have morals or treat others nicely. Do whatever you want, because it doesn't matter. The more pleasure you can get, good for you. Others? That's their problem.

    So, it was a surprise to meet actual atheists, and to find out they're caring, quite moral, and are often generous with helping others. My religious bias was wrong.

    I'm not an atheist, but I'm not religious. My charitable donations go to charities, not churches. Is this the reason I'm feared? I'd like to think not, but I don't know.

    I know in the case of my former religion, there's a sense that if it's not growing, at a substantial pace, then things are wrong, or maybe an unstated fear that the message we were taught isn't true.

  • ParkCityAggie Park City, Ut
    July 6, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    The numbers are not surprising and probably mostly reflect those the in the somewhat religious to very religious category. Its been my experience that those who consider themselves somewhat or very religious tend to believe that those who are not religious are either ignorant, arrogant, uncouth, or all three. Yet Atheists would likely point out some fairly recent studies that show they are more likely to have read and understand the Bible more so than your average person. They would also point out that although Atheists and non-believers make up nearly 18% of the US population, that they only represent about 1% of those incarcerated in prison. I think that 39% is mostly made up of people who are religious in name only, likely identifying themselves a s Christian even though they probably never attend a church service. Thus they don't get worked up about there being a rise of those who consider themselves less religious or non-religious. Or perhaps they are just not dogmatic about their Christianity or religious faith? It would be interesting in to delve into a bit more.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    July 6, 2013 9:04 a.m.

    If you believe in gravity the holds us to the ground. How can you not believe that God holds us together.

  • ThornBirds St.George, Utah
    July 6, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    Following this past week's Deseret News article detailing the LDS Church's pew/bench fiasco, which garnered over 130 powerful and emotional comments........
    Those who do not embrace organized religion, again, breathed a sigh of relief.

  • Charles.Reese FULTON, MO
    July 6, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    If nearly 50 percent believe that non-religion is bad then perhaps they should read The Book of Mormon. I love that book and know it to be true. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from studying The Book of Mormon would be the pride cycle and what happened when the people or great majority of those individuals turned a way from God.

    What happened? They suffered for it greatly. And this is a sign/prelude of things to come or going on at this very moment. We don't have laws against individuals that don't want to believe in God for they are free to choose for themselves. Sound familiar?

    But because those individuals feel the way they do, it should put more pressure on people who do believe in God to set an example and do their best as they know what is right.

    All will be well when the time is right for the return of our Lord and Master. The time is not yet, but soon it will be. Hang in there in the fight for what is right and just.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    July 6, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    Can you imagine how fast this would be considered evidence of bigotry if non-religious were replaced in the title with any religion?

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    July 6, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    Religion is fading in public influence because it has evolved into giant nonprofit international corporation churches that are more about politics, commerce and personal gain than they are to altruistic religious principals. Organized religion has become a toxin to public health.

  • BCA Murrieta, CA
    July 6, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    In my 60 years, I have sat in enough Sunday School classes where Christians jeer not only at those with no religion but those of other religions. In fact, Dr Gee just lost a job at Ohio State doing that exact thing. The only difference is that when atheists do in, they don't add,"But I really love them.", which is supposed to somehow make it okay.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 6, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    Maybe they see the increase in the amount of non religious as 'bad' because it causes them to re evaluate whether their own claims to some sort of supernatural knowledge have any validity, or they're just claiming it does. An increase in the non religious continues to prove that people have an innate sense of morality which does not require a code imposed by a religion and I suppose the religious could see that as 'bad' because it exposes the weakness and fabrication of those who claim to have some sort of divine insight.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 6, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    One point I find odd in the rise of atheism is the belief expressed by some that the religious do not believe in logic or science.

    From the article: "The secular can learn that just because we value critical thinking and the scientific method, that doesn't mean we suddenly become disembodied and we can no longer benefit from our emotional lives."

    I know many I consider to be quite religious who engage in critical thinking and both understand and apply the scientific method with regularity.

    Science and logic are not just the province of atheists. Men and women of many religious backgrounds are part of the scientific community and have always been.

    The concept that science and logic somehow "belong" to the non-religious is simply irrational.

  • Edd_Doerr Silver Spring, MD
    July 6, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    It seems not to have occurred to many people that the excesses of fundamentalist political activists, clerical child abusers, churchy opponents of women's rights, and those who are working to divert public funds to church-run private schools lead many to shun religion in general. -- Edd Doerr (arlinc.org)

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    July 6, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    Of course most of America thinks the rise in the number of non-religious is a bad thing. When I was religious I thought the same thing.

    My assumption was that unless you believed in heaven and "heck", there was no reason to have morals or treat others nicely. Do whatever you want, because it doesn't matter. The more pleasure you can get, good for you. Others? That's their problem.

    So, it was a surprise to meet actual atheists, and to find out they're caring, quite moral, and are often generous with helping others. My religious bias was wrong.

    I'm not an atheist, but I'm not religious. My charitable donations go to charities, not churches. Is this the reason I'm feared? I'd like to think not, but I don't know.

    I know in the case of my former religion, there's a sense that if it's not growing, at a substantial pace, then things are wrong, or maybe an unstated fear that the message we were taught isn't true. I was told Jesus would return, certainly by the year 2000.

    I'm sure Jesus' return date is not predicted, anymore.

  • ChuckGG Gaithersburg, MD
    July 6, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    Not at all surprising findings. Churches filled a social function now replaced with any number of other social vehicles. This is a far cry from my parents' day where Sunday church was the one time to get away from the farm, meet, socialize, and get the news. Today's youth have the same need but it is met elsewhere. Also, the whole "hocus pocus" of religion is far less believable by educated and aware young people. It is not surprising the atheist groups have the social aspects of church without the traditional trappings of church which seem dated. The old technique of churches keeping people in fear of others, uneducated, unworldly, and cloistered no longer works. How do you keep an Amish kid on the farm after he's seen the world on the internet? I doubt you do. Churches need to become relevant today or they will become relics of the past.

  • windsor City, Ut
    July 6, 2013 6:34 a.m.

    Loved the part about atheists "getting over themselves"and getting over "jeering at religion".

    Can tell you when the atheist in my life decided to do those two things, it made all the difference.

  • George Derringer Marblehead, MA
    July 6, 2013 5:47 a.m.

    It looks like the colors for "bad thing" and "doesn't matter" aere reversed in the color bar chart labeled "Religious Tradition." The blue section should be ?bad thing" and the green section should represent those who answered "doesn't matter."

  • snowyphile Jemez Springs, NM
    July 6, 2013 5:16 a.m.

    A non-scientific survey suggests that going to church does not improve behavior.

  • Epinephrine Grand Forks, ND
    July 6, 2013 4:53 a.m.

    I have never met a non-religious person who has stated that a rise in their numbers is a bad thing. Very surprising. Just look at this website and the Trib's comment boards to see what the non-religious think of religion in general.