Religion

You Either Got Faith or You Got Unbelief and There Ain't No Neutral Ground

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jesus

USA Today describes the results of the latest American Religious Identification Survey:

The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers—or falling off the faith map completely….

[D]espite growth and immigration that has added nearly 50 million adults to the U.S. population, almost all religious denominations have lost ground since the first ARIS survey in 1990.

"More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, 'I'm everything. I'm nothing. I believe in myself,'" says Barry Kosmin, survey co-author.

While the number of Christians and Jews is down, the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion now stands at 15 percent, up from 8 percent in 1990. Also rising: the number of Wiccans and the number of Muslims. No word of the number of Jedi.

Elsewhere in Reason: My dispatch from the spiritual jacuzzi.

Elsewhere not in Reason: Post title explained here.

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  1. Nice use of a graphic from “The Family.” If someone’s sitting on the fence about religion, that group will push them one way or the other. If they’re into wife swapping and group sex, it’s for them. Otherwise the Family will convince them that religion is absolutely nutso…

  2. Maybe now we can finally save the planet with all of those religionists out of the way.

    End Climate Change Now!

  3. Untermensch,

    Are you saying that is a typo in dialog bubble the picture?

  4. For the Family, probably. They were the ones who made “Flirty Fishing” popular and encouraged their members to have sex with anyone they wanted but to imagine it was sex with Jesus (including men, who were supposed to imagine they were women, although the mechanics seem to get a little vague there since homosexuality is supposed to be bad for men). They also conceived of revelation as being drops of Jesus’ semen that implanted themselves in the mind. All their pictures of the rapture show naked people thinly disguised in robes going up to heaven. This is one of the tamer ones since there aren’t hearts and UFOs in the as well.

  5. Tofu with another good one!

  6. People shouldn’t play ring-toss with Kenny Rogers’s head like that. Especially not when he’s being so hospitable to all those half-naked people trying to get to the candy corn via a Slip-n-Slide.

  7. Hooray for the New Enlightenment!
    But how many Americans still believe in Limbaugh? Maddow? Olbermann?

  8. But how many Americans still believe in Limbaugh? Maddow? Olbermann?

    Hot threesome or Hottest threesome?

  9. “If they’re into wife swapping and group sex, it’s for them.”

    I’ve been an atheist for years, but when you put it that way…

  10. WHO IS THAT TOPLESS REDHEAD WITH THE FINE ASS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PICTURE? PERHAPS THERE IS MORE TO THIS RELIGION THAN THE URKOBOLD HAS PREVIOUSLY REALIZED.

  11. I am an anti-scientologist, follower and heir of Lord Xenu.

  12. Did they poll for believers in FSM this year?

  13. I don’t believe in magic
    I don’t believe in I-ching
    I don’t believe in Bible
    I don’t believe in Tarot
    I don’t believe in Hitler
    I don’t believe in Jesus
    I don’t believe in Kennedy
    I don’t believe in Buddha
    I don’t believe in Mantra
    I don’t believe in Gita
    I don’t believe in Yoga
    I don’t believe in Kings
    I don’t believe in Elvis
    I don’t believe in Zimmerman
    I don’t believe in Beatles
    I just believe in me…

  14. Even though I am a non believer and even though Dylan has done much better work, obviously, I love the Blood on the Tracks album and I really like “Precious Angel” even though lyrically it doesnt do much for me.

  15. SugarFree | March 10, 2009, 4:12pm | #

    “But how many Americans still believe in Limbaugh? Maddow? Olbermann?”

    Hot threesome or Hottest threesome?

    Only the triple-headed dildo knows.

  16. Epi, I’m sorry, but for some reason I read your post to the tune (style?) of a song on the Run Lola Run soundtrack.

  17. YOU dont believe in none of those things but “O believe in you” another great Dylan song off of that album…

  18. Moose, which one?

  19. That redhead is fucking hot…COME indeed…

  20. The number of true-believer libertarians is holding steady at statitstically insignificant.

    Hail Market,
    Full of grace,
    Prosperity is with thee.
    Blessed art thou among systems,
    and blessed is the fruit
    of thy womb, Capital.
    Holy Market,
    Mother of Goods,
    pray for us consumers now,
    and at the hour of our bankruptcy.
    Amen.

  21. UPON FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THIS WOMAN, THE URKOBOLD NOTES THAT THE LINES OF HER FINE, WOMANLY POSTERIOR ARE DRAWN IN. IS THIS A RELIGIOUS THING?

    WHEN THAT BITCH BENDS OVER, THE URKOBOLD FORGETS HIS NAME. AND GOES TO HIS BUNK.

  22. this one

    I haven’t even seen the movie in like.. 8 years.

  23. I haven’t even seen the movie in like.. 8 years.

    I just rewatched it a year ago. DIE TASCHE!

  24. That was the first “hail market” routine from Lefiti in a long, long time.

  25. Interesting, but I’ve been reading quite a bit about the sociology of religion lately, and what’s really happening is that most people are not discarding religious belief — rather, more people are breaking away from affiliation with specific religious beliefs, mostly the big mainline religions. And in many cases the reason is that these religions have become more liberal, more lax, less in tension with the secular society around them. They seem less “special” and have less to offer.

    In other words, the “demand” for religion hasn’t slackened so much, but many of the major “providers” have become less competent at providing satisfying brands of religion.

    Even in “secular” Europe, the overwhelming majority of the population professes a belief in God and general agreement with basic Christian teachings, but church attendance is generally miserable. Many European countries have a legacy of established churches, and favorable treatment of certain faiths (subsidies, suppression of “cultish” competitors, free air-time on state TV, etc.) continues to this day. The protected monopolies have become flabby, and a minister who receives a gov’t stipend whether his church is full or almost empty has less incentive to draw visitors.

    Whereas in America, religious pluralism has stimulated religious competition, churches are more vigorous, and people tend to be more religiously active, as measured by such things as actual church attendance. The overall trend is that Americans have become more religiously active since independence.

    In 1776, about 17% of Americans were members of a specific church congregation — about the same as Great Britain at that time. In 1850, that percentage had doubled to 34% in the USA, while church membership in Great Britain was still about half that. In 1850, about half of Americans were members of a specific church, and in 2000 that figure had risen to about 2/3rds.

    What we’re seeing is the continuation of a kind of religions “churn” that has been going on in America for a couple of centuries. People draft away from major mainline churches as those churches become increasing lax and low-tension, and many of them re-affiliate with more demanding faiths that ask more but also seem to promise more.

    I would expect that over their lifetimes, many of the people in the poll who aren’t currently members of a specific church, or their children, will join groups like the Mormons or maybe the fundies, or some other sect that has yet to emerge.

  26. STEVO DARKLY, YOU’VE CHANGED, MAN. THE STEVO DARKLY THE URKOBOLD KNEW WOULD NEVER THREADJACK A HOT RED-HEADED ASS THREAD TO TALK ABOUT RELIGION.

  27. A HOT RED-HEADED ASS THREAD

    Note the Run Lola Run/Franke Potente connection.

  28. Anyone else discomfited that every new religion has UFOs and aliens in the picture somewhere.

    Our next god will have bug eyes, a flying saucer, and an anal probe.

    Me no like.

  29. My apologies, Mighty Urkobold(TM)– I succumbed to the “Hey, what you think you know is actually wrong — let me explain” impulse. I lost focus on what truly matters here.

    I do loves me some hot-assed redheads.

  30. AH, EPISIARCH. HE ONCE AGAIN RENEWS THE URKOBOLD’S FAITH IN LECHERY. THE URKOBOLD IS CONFIDENT THAT EPISIARCH IS SNORTING A DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE OFF OF A RED-HEADED PROSTITUTE’S ASS AS HE TYPES THOSE WORDS.

  31. Speaking of devotion to more conservative religions, I would like to point out that if the people in the above illustration were Catholic instead Jolly Giant Golden Pyramid Cultists, that hot redhead would be wearing a short plaid skirt instead of a baggy sheet on her ass.

    (Roll d20 +16 pre-emptive warding against cheap altarboy jokes.)

  32. YOU WANT THIS RED-HEADED ASS, DON’T YOU, STEVO? THE LUST IS SWELLING IN YOU NOW. TAKE YOUR WEAPON. USE IT. SHE IS UNDRESSED. STRIKE HER DOWN WITH IT. GIVE IN TO YOUR LUST. WITH EACH PASSING MOMENT, YOU MAKE YOURSELF MORE THE URKOBOLD’S SERVANT.

  33. Hail redheaded ass, full of ass…

  34. Although, if I interpret that blue circle correctly, the Golden Pyramid does

  35. SNORTING A DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE OFF OF A RED-HEADED PROSTITUTE’S ASS

    That’s later.

  36. Ah, bikkja! HTML fail.

    Although, if I interpret that blue circle correctly, the Golden Pyramid does contain a drop of Retsin(TM), which keeps your breath fresh for hours, and hot redheads dig that.

  37. I am ready to whip out my purple lightsaber, O Urkobold!

  38. Um, with all due respect to the red-headed thread, I think Stevo’s serious point above is a good one. The strength of our religious beliefs tend to ebb and flow in this country. We bounce from church to church a bit, but we also swing from more religious to less religious and back. I seem to recall hearing that the all-time highest church attendance (or claims about such attendance, anyway) occurred during the 20th century, which is counter to the vision of our forefathers eating manna in the desert.

    Okay, sorry, back to the central theme of the thread. I suppose a hot redhead is consistent with the vision of a well-tanned, surfer Jesus.

  39. I don’t believe in magic
    I don’t believe in I-ching
    I don’t believe in Bible
    I don’t believe in Tarot
    I don’t believe in Hitler
    I don’t believe in Jesus
    I don’t believe in Kennedy
    I don’t believe in Buddha
    I don’t believe in Mantra
    I don’t believe in Gita
    I don’t believe in Yoga
    I don’t believe in Kings
    I don’t believe in Elvis
    I don’t believe in Zimmerman
    I don’t believe in Beatles
    I just believe in

    The church of Sub-Genius

    Slack baby yeah

  40. MaterialMonkee: You tell it, Yeti!

    I love the quote at the end of the piece: “Christianity is moving totally under the radar.” As if it hasn’t, y’know, lorded over Western society for centuries.

  41. The problem with religion is the acceptance of the sacrifice of what we know for the hope of what we don’t know. I’m too much of an egoist to engage in practical application of faith.

  42. Even though I am a non believer and even though Dylan has done much better work, obviously, I love the Blood on the Tracks album and I really like “Precious Angel” even though lyrically it doesnt do much for me.

    ‘Blood’ is a secular album where Dylan was consumed with his breakup with Sara.

    ‘Precious Angel’ is on ‘Saved’ and is Dylan’s return to religiosity. And you’re right, its a beautiful song whatever the lyrics.

    “you were drawing water for you husband,
    suffering under the law”

    Dylan at his weirdest for sure – but musically intact.

  43. SNORTING A DANGEROUS SUBSTANCE OFF OF A RED-HEADED PROSTITUTE’S ASS?

    Depleted Uranium?

    Most off the shit I snort isn’t dangerous

    except one time I was at an illegal rave in an abandoned warehouse in Manchetser

    Crushed up some ketamine onto a table

    snorted it

    realized the table was covered in a half inch thick layer of dust (whatever shit builds up in abandoned warehouses, asbestos etc!)

    man that hurt

    needless to say I was absolutely fucked up with crazy Sinusitis for about a month

  44. “WHO IS THAT TOPLESS REDHEAD WITH THE FINE ASS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PICTURE?”

    I think it’s Mell Gibson from Braveheart.

    Brrrfffttttt. Aahhhhhhh.

  45. “Even though I am a non believer and even though Dylan has done much better work, obviously, I love the Blood on the Tracks album and I really like “Precious Angel” even though lyrically it doesnt do much for me”

    That Sufjan Stevens rocks for a bible basher

    Seriously this is the best track I’ve heard in like 5 years

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVZcAzXWciQ

    Sufjan Stevens – For the widows in paradise

    Absolutely great stuff

  46. No surprise. In the past people were willing to admit to being casually religious by default. Now that religion is being more and more associated with fringe wackos, more and more people are bailing on the idea altogether.

  47. Our President
    Who art in White House
    Hallowed be thy name

    Thy Dictatorship come
    Thy Executive Order Will be done

    In every State
    By mandate from Washington

    Give us this day
    Our daily handout
    And forgive us our mortgages
    As we forget that you are running up one bad-ass mother-fucking debt

    And forbid us from tobacco-smoking, trans-fat consuming, bong-hitting, non-seat-belt wearing, temptation
    But deliver us from Evil Market Economies

    For thine is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
    For Ever
    & Ever

    AMEN

  48. I kind of partial to the flat chested blonde. But yeah, the redhead has a nice ass. I think my lightsaber just switched to turbo.

  49. TONY, YOU FOOL! YOU HAVE EYES, BUT YOU DO NOT SEE. AMERICANS WILL FOLLOW THE HOT, RED-HEADED WOMAN’S ASS ANYWHERE. THOSE FEW HETEROSEXUAL WOMEN THAT REMAIN IN THE U.S. WHO REFUSE TO JOIN THE CHURCH OF THE RED-HEADED WOMAN’S ASS WILL GO FOR PRO MINIONTATE’S APPROPRIATELY NAMED “SURFER JESUS.” THIS CHURCH CANNOT FAIL.

    GOOD, TROY, GOOD. SET SABERS TO THRUST!

  50. How many people listed “Obama” as their religion?

  51. How many people listed “Obama” as their religion?

    Far fewer by miles than the brain-dead fundies who fawned over the Bush pig.

  52. In other words, the “demand” for religion hasn’t slackened so much, but many of the major “providers” have become less competent at providing satisfying brands of religion.

    The none category is now at 15% compared to 8% in 1990. These are not people who have migrated to smaller denominations or personal interpretations of theism, these are people for whom religion has no place in their lives. Many of them, myself included, find that quite satisfying.

  53. ‘Precious Angel’ is on ‘Saved’ and is Dylan’s return to religiosity. And you’re right, its a beautiful song whatever the lyrics.

    Actually, it’s on Slow Train Coming

  54. Shit, I don’t even believe in free will anymore

  55. You are free to not believe.

  56. That picture just screams “heaven is where all the hot, half-naked hippie chicks go.”

  57. Feh on the redhead. You can see neither tits nor face. How can you believe in and serve that which you cannot see?

  58. The post left out this quote from the article:

    ‘While [Catholic] bishops from the Midwest to Massachusetts close down or consolidate historic parishes, those in the South are scrambling to serve increasing numbers of worshipers.’

    Benedicite, y’all!

  59. “How many people listed “Obama” as their religion?

    Far fewer by miles than the brain-dead fundies who fawned over the Bush pig.”

    Of course not. You can’t expect Obama to build up a personality cult like that in just a year. It will take 2 or 3 years, at least.

  60. The problem with studies like this is that when pressed for an answer people invariably say “I’m a Christian”. They may not have been to church in thirty years but hey, we do presents on Christmas.

    The term ‘Christian’ is defined so overly broad as to be entirely meaningless. It counts fundies who claim you WILL roast in hell for going to see a Disney movie, the Watchtower crowd, and the aforementioned people who think lying in bed on Sunday morning screaming OH GOD fulfills their spiritual quota for the week (and it likely does).

  61. You are free to not believe.

    But are you free to split infinitives?

  62. Soy libre de crenoer.

    I can even do it in Spanish.

    Besides, I’m not turning this in for credit. Are you turning your work in, Tony? Lemme guess, Univ. of Phoenix?

  63. the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion now stands at 15 percent, up from 8 percent in 1990

    It’s probably higher than that. Similar to the Bradley Effect in politics, when it comes to religion, self-identifying as an atheist is still stigmatic for many people.

  64. self-identifying as an atheist is still stigmatic for many people

    The number who explicitly identify as atheists is actually much lower than 15 percent.

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