© Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

Q: Where is the story of disbelief most interesting?

In the middle of Chapter 14 now and having a ball. It’s a kind of snapshot chapter — lots of stats and facts about religious disbelief today, including the way it presents differently around the world. Like:

China and India, where the environment for atheism has been relatively relaxed for thousands of years
Norway (et al.), where most people are non-believing Lutherans and the state church just (mostly) disestablished itself voluntarily
Québec, which in 40 years went from the most religious province in Canada (and 83 percent Catholic) to the least religious province in Canada…and still 83 percent Catholic
California, which in 30 years went from part of the “Unchurched Belt” to the middle of the pack in religious identity, largely because of the influx of Catholic Hispanics
The UK, of course, which underwent such a rapid secularization after WWII that they had to create a National Health Service to deal with all the whiplash
• The fact that urban-rural is overtaking all other variables in the secular-religious split

You get the picture. I’m trying to draw out these interesting narratives in short spurts. So

Q: Do you know of any interesting stories of the rise, fall, or other change in nonreligious identity at the national or local level, anywhere in the world?

Vermont, you went from 13% nonreligious to 34% in 20 years. Got to be a story there. Also wondering about Uganda for a half dozen reasons. I’m especially interested in the global South, but anything interesting will do. Just a few sentences and a link if appropriate. Thanks!



This was written on Friday, 07. September 2012 at 15:26 and was filed under Uncategorized. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Stories showing a direct relationship between individual events and circumstances and increased non-belief might be hard to come by, no? It’s such a many-faceted and drawn-out process…

    There are, of course, some explicit stories about U.S. residents dropping their deity beliefs post-9/11. I remember these from documentaries, but surely some are published.

    Also, the combination of the rise of outspoken atheism here in the U.S. and UK and the rise of social networking has surely made it easier for people who have long been unbelievers to just simply say so and to gather and enjoy “fellowship” The growth in atheist “meetup” groups, for example, might be easily quantified.

    Too, there is the new post-pastor support group founded by Dan Barker and others, as described via the tale of Jerry DeWitt:
    I want to shake Mr. DeWitt’s hand. I’ll bet you do, too.

    Similarly, there is the new “Recovering from Religion” group started by Darrel Ray. That’s a new variation under the sun…

    Also, you might get some material from ex mormon groups, which seem to be growing and are easily found with a google.

    Last, FWIW, here’s an interesting article about Catholics leaving, or at least not attending, church.
    Among the noted problems was a lack of new priests and irritation among parishioners with hard-to-understand accents of imported priests. Unsurprisingly from a Catholic publication, parishioner departures due to disgust with pedophile priests and their enabling “superiors” received little notice. Though quite indirect and circumstantial, any or all of those circumstances might help illustrate why unbelief would rise in “the Catholic quarter.”

    Best from your textually verbose admirer,

    Comment: Brad – 09. September 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  2. (partly referencing Hannah Sommerville’s facebook comment)
    I live in Adelaide (South Australia) – when you look at city slogans / what the area is known for, Adelaide is the ‘City of Churches’. Ironically, we have 28% population being non-religious.
    The 25% nation-wide statistic may be much lower than the real figure, as the actual census question lists the regular religions, then has an other box, and then after that has ‘no religion’. There has been a suggestion that it should be changed to ask if you are religious (yes / no), if no go to next question, if yes, please pick your “flavour” (you can tell I won’t be writing the actual question).

    The good thing here is that the Girl Guides of Australia no longer reference any gods in their promise / laws. The bad news for me (as the mother of (nearly) 3 sons) is that Scouts Australia will not remove the mention of god from its promise. They changed it when I was a teenager (25 years ago) to say “my god” instead of just god, but my 5 year old had already been exposed to myths from all kinds of cultures with the christian ones thrown in, and thinks they are all silly. I can’t in good faith allow him to join the scouts and say the promise to ‘do my duty to my god’.

    Comment: ceryle – 10. September 2012 @ 8:44 am

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