Magi Mike's Blog

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Americans reject GOP religiosity as well as politics

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For a generation in the United States, conservative Christians politicized themselves, and so the GOP adopted their religious politics, opposing stem cell research, gay marriage and abortions, championing public money for religious schools and social program, and appointing evangelized judges. Three days after 11 September, 2001, President Bush gave a dramatic address sounding like a sermon in the National Cathedral. Supported by prominent Jewish, Moslem and Christian figures, it seemed a model of multiculturalism. Religious moderates of every hue provide cover for fundamentalists by refusing to contest the extremists’ premises. How can they? They share them.

Yet no one stood for the tens of millions of nonreligious Americans. They were ignored as if they did not exist. Everyone in America believes in God. In the face of it all, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists have been timid and voiceless, ignored and derided, but described as devils. Now atheistic books have become bestsellers. Are Americans getting fed up with Republican religiosity as well as politics?

We commonly hear that only a tiny percentage of Americans don’t believe in God and that, as a Newsweek poll recently said, 91 percent do. It is not true. According to Ronald Aronson, a teacher at Wayne State University and author of Living Without God, published by Counterpoint, writing in The Nation, the American Religious Identification Survey, which interviewed 50,000 people, found 29 million adults to be without religion—one American in seven, 14 percent.

But a Financial Times/Harris poll of Europeans and Americans that allowed respondents to declare agnosticism as well as atheism found 18 percent of 2,000 Americans chose one or the other, with 73 percent believing in God or a supreme being. The poll also allowed for people to respond “Would prefer not to say” and six percent of Americans chose this to answer the question whether they believed in God or a supreme being, because they were scared to deny God publicly for fear of their religious friends and neighbours. So, the sum of unbelievers (18 percent + 6 percent) is not far off one in four Americans!

This large segment of Americans is fed up with being marginalized and insulted. They are mainly well educated people. A Harris American poll found 31 percent with postgraduate education do not believe in God, compared with 14 percent with a high school education or less. The better the education, the higher the percentage of disbelievers, reaching 93 percent among members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Unbelievers are to be found concentrated among those whose professional lives emphasize science or rationality and who also have developed a relatively high level of confidence in their own intellectual faculties. And they are frequently teachers or opinion-makers.
Ronald Aronson,The Nation

Written by mikemagee

14 November, 2008 at 11:58 pm

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