A graphic of the letter "A"

A new survey finds 49 percent of Americans would be unhappy if an member of the immediate family planned to marry an atheist. courtesy the Beacon Bolt

(RNS) Brace yourself for family backlash if you plan to marry an atheist.

A new Pew Research survey chiefly focused on political polarization also found Americans divided when someone in the family picks a nonbeliever to marry.

Atheists are the most unwanted future relative, by far. Nearly half (49 percent) of Americans say they would be unhappy if a member of their immediate family picked an unbeliever for a spouse.

Those most likely to say they’d be upset:

  • 73 percent of people who call themselves “consistently conservative.”
  • 64 percent of Protestants, including 77 percent of white non-Hispanic evangelical Protestants.
  • 59 percent among Republicans or those who leaned to the GOP, 18 points higher than unhappy Democrat or Democrat/leaning adults.
  • 55 percent of Roman Catholics

By contrast, only 9 percent overall said they would be upset by the prospect of a relative wedding a “born again” Christian.

Marriages between Democrats and Republicans were not nearly as divisive.

The number of people who would be upset if a family member married someone of another political party was less than one in 10 overall. And the percentage was similarly low for marrying someone of another race or an immigrant born and raised in another country.

Temperatures did rise a bit over gun ownership and over a lack of a college education.

Overall, only 19 percent said they would be unhappy to have a gun owner in the family. But Democrats and those who leaned blue were more likely to be unhappy (26 percent) than those who favored the GOP (9 percent).

The lack of a college degree in a potential in-law made 14 percent of respondents unhappy but there was little political or social difference among those who held that view. However, the more educated the survey respondent, the higher their disapproval of a diploma-less relative.

“Clearly, an atheist is the least likely to be welcomed into a family,” said Jocelyn Kiley, senior researcher with the Pew Center for the People & the Press. Although 20 percent of Americans said they have no religious identity, “certainly religiosity matters in the United States.”

The questions were part of a comprehensive look at polarization in U.S. society. The overall survey, conducted from January through March 2014, was of 10,013 people, but only about a third were asked the marriage questions. The margin of error for that portion of the survey is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Among the major overall findings was that Republicans and Democrats have become more ideologically rigid – and further apart — than ever before. They also hold more sharply negative views of each other than 20 years ago, said Kiley.

This is the first time Pew asked these particular marriage questions so there’s no comparison to the past.

YS/AMB END GROSSMAN

49 Comments

    • Attitude Matters

      I think most people who aren’t religious, want their children to believe in God. They don’t understand what that means, but they want their kids to have a good moral framework that believes in a god of some sort, but they want it easy, so they don’t want to figure out what they believe about God – they want a loose Judeo-Christian god so they can check the box and sleep at night. So, they tend to get a little more god-fearing when they have kids. They don’t want in-laws who sternly contradict that.

      • Wow, that is a whole lot of unfounded generalizations!

        Not religious doesn’t necessarily mean atheist. “None” is a tricky category to pigeonhole.

        You also mis-characterize people who don’t have a religious affiliation or belief as being ignorant of what that means. That is far from true. Many purposefully reject such beliefs and affiliations precisely because they know what it means. You are trying to imply your own religious belief makes you more knowledgeable. Oh the irony.

        Belief in God is not a good moral framework. Never has been. Teaching children about arbitrary and capricious outside authority is never a good thing, but vital to religious indoctrination.

        You want to characterize people without belief or without affiliation as ignorant, lazy or just immoral. You are trying to say, that without your strict, inflexible, orthodox God, they are just posing. It sounds like so much dishonesty, puffery and vanity on your part.

        • samuel Johnston

          “Belief in God is not a good moral framework. Never has been. Teaching children about arbitrary and capricious outside authority is never a good thing, but vital to religious indoctrination.”
          Wonderful formulation Larry. Morality, (personal morality, as we understand the term) was a late innovation in religion, reportedly introduced by Zarathustra in about the Sixth Century BCE. Anyone can see that it never became a very important factor in religion, compared to say fear, and the desire for special favors.

        • No, on the contrary. Most people realize that atheists are a bit – shall we say – contentious. Overly critical, perhaps even a bit unwilling to go along to get along. They have axes to grind, for the most part, and are a bit sour.
          A good example is Lawrence Kraus, the scientist. He even says many people find him obnoxious. So on the whole, while there are many good and decent atheists, many of them are also quite difficult.

          • The problem is many believers are not really willing to own up to their own obnoxious behavior. If God says so, pretty much all sorts of offense and rude behavior is considered OK. Most are pretty tone deaf to such things. Being so used to having their own way or not being called out on such things, they usually don’t notice.

          • ATHEIST + AGNOSTIC MAX

            @Bjemasdterheih,

            Contentious?
            I wonder what else I’m supposed to do?

            I’m confronted by people who claim that Jesus is perfect and they threaten me with all sorts of bad things here on earth (by Christians) or later after I’m dead (by God).

            Yet, What is so great about Jesus?
            As far as I can tell he was the FIRST CHRISTIAN SINNER.

            “Sin” is a religious term for going against God’s laws.

            Supposedly, these would be some sins
            according to the Bible:

            Hate,
            bigotry,
            Not forgiving,
            Incitement to violence,
            attacking a foe,
            weaponizing for battle,
            Not loving neighbors,
            telling lies,
            stealing,
            cursing,
            killing for vengeance,
            judging others,
            racism….etc…

            SO…

            JESUS LIED. Isn’t lying a sin?

            “‘Go to the festival yourselves.
            I AM NOT GOING to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.’ After saying this, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone to the festival, THEN HE ALSO WENT not publicly but as it were IN SECRET.” (John 7.8-10).

            JESUS COVETED HIS NEIGHBORS GOODS AND INSTRUCTED FOLLOWERS TO STEAL – Isn’t coveting and stealing a sin?
            “untie them” ..”bring them to me” (Matt. 21:2-3)

            JESUS DIDN’T FORGIVE – he sent them to Hell! (Mark 16:16)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS CURSED his enemies – “Thou Fools!”(Matt. 23:17)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS DESTROYED HIS ENEMIES WITH VENGEANCE –
            “bring to me my enemies….execute them in front of me”(Luke 19:27)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS DID NOT LOVE MOST OF HIS NEIGHBORS
            – They are ‘Dogs’!(Matthew 15:26)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS TOLD PEOPLE TO JUDGE OTHERS HARSHLY – “If you deem them unworthy…Remove your blessings of Peace”!(Matt 10:14)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS WAS BIGOTED – “They are swine” (Matthew 7:6)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS VIOLENTLY WHIPPED PEOPLE – “He made a whip of cords and attacked them” (John 2:5)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS CAME TO INCITE VIOLENCE – “I do not bring peace.”(Matt 10:34)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS PREPARED FOR WAR – “if you have money, buy a sword” (Luke 22:36-37)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS TOLD PEOPLE TO IGNORE THE LOVE OF PARENTS – “hate your mother and father…hate your very life” (Luke 14:26)
            Isn’t that a sin?

            JESUS TOLD PEOPLE TO KILL THEIR CHILDREN – doesn’t that sound like a sin?
            “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ (Matthew 15:3).

            JESUS INCITED VIOLENCE AND WAS IMPATIENT – “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!….and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on Earth? No, I tell you, but CONFLICT.” – Jesus – (Luke 12:49-51)

            Is this not the sin of pride? Isn’t patience a Virtue?
            —–

            Your Jesus sinned more than any Atheist I ever met!

            JESUS WAS A SINNER.

            DID JESUS REPENT OF HIS SINS?
            DID JESUS ASK FORGIVENESS?
            IS JESUS IN HELL?

            His contempt for the laws of Yahweh, while ENFORCING THEM (o_O) is the most two-faced, obvious garbage
            in the history of religious nonsense.
            Which is saying a lot!

      • @Attitude Matters,

        God as a free babysitter?

        GOD COMMANDS KILLING BABIES AND SWEET CHILDREN
        “Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes.” (Isaiah 13:15)

        “Jesus said…Except they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death.” (Rev:1:22)

        What lovely messages for bedtime.
        No bad dreams there.

        • You crack me up. We should start calling you “Out of context Max”

          Isaiah 13:15 is part of a vision that Isaiah saw. It is not God commanding anyone to do anything. It is something Isaiah saw in his vision. Chapter 13 starts:

          “13 A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:”

          And its Revelation 2:22, not 1:22.

          Again, this was a vision that John had of Jesus, and in this vision Jesus is said to have said certain things, But again, it is all part of a vision.

          20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”

          Now atheist Max gets out of that that Jesus “commands the killing of children”.

          Does it not bother you that you and a propagandist use the same techniques?

          • @Bfigjigm,

            The Bible is propaganda.
            Its entire purpose is to sell a disgusting, primitive Lemon.

            To call out BS is NOT propaganda.

            Is a fireman spreading propaganda when he hoses down
            a burning building?

            Honestly, you religious people
            seem to give no thought to anything.

            1. Thanks for the correction on Rev 2:22 – I could not edit the typo after it was posted. But is really is shocking that you take comfort in the fear monger Jesus and the call to obedience of the entire chapter and verse. As usual, putting the disgusting words from the Bible in context NEVER helps the Bible’s defense!

            2. I take no comfort in your explanation that the *prophecy* of God Commanding the killing of babies is somehow different from God’s Command of the killing of babies – which God does routinely in the Bible anyway. You failed Sunday School if you don’t know that all of the Bible is ‘prophecy’.

            HOW ABOUT YOU FIND THIS VERSE IN THE BIBLE?

            “I changed myself into my own son and shot him multiple times after torturing him; making sure he would bleed to death and I did this for YOUR PERSONAL BENEFIT. If you don’t believe me I PROMISE to do worse things to you for all of eternity. Be afraid! ” – YAHWEH

            And tell me all about the precious ‘context’.
            I’d love to hear it.

  1. Michael Glass

    It sounds like atheists have been effectively demonised in the United States. In Australia and other English-speaking countries there is much less fear of people who are not religious.

    • And this demonization against Atheists will continue
      because Atheists must dismantle this monster of religion
      a bit more before we can start being nicer.

      I GUESS THESE ATHEISTS WOULD NOT BE WELCOME
      AS MEMBERS OF MOST AMERICAN FAMILIES THEN

      Thomas Edison
      Helen Keller
      The Beatles
      Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts)
      Jacques Yves Cousteau
      Abraham Lincoln – “The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my religion.”
      Roger Ebert
      Einstein
      Linus Carl Pauling
      Maurice Sendak
      Warren Buffet – Billionaire philanthropist
      Jonas Salk (discoverer of the Polio vaccine)
      Andy Rooney
      David Hume
      Ray Romano
      Ted Williams
      Scott Joplin
      Marlene Deitrich
      Butterfly McQueen
      Billy Joel
      Sigmund Freud
      Bruce Lee
      Bill Nye
      Susan B. Anthony
      William Shatner
      Marlon Brando
      Noam Chomsky
      Katherine Hepburn
      Helen Mirren
      Andrew Carnegie
      Richard Branson
      Kurt Vonnegut
      Gene Wilder
      Virginia Wolf
      Charlie Chaplin
      Richard Rodgers
      Arthur Schleshinger Jr.
      Frida Kahlo
      Ernest Hemmingway
      Carl Sagan
      Oscar Wilde
      Frank Zappa
      Mark Zuckerberg
      Jamie Hyneman
      George C Scott
      Andy Rooney
      Daniel Radcliffe
      ‪Carl Sagan
      Daniel Ratcliff
      Penn and Teller
      ‪Arthur Miller
      Barry Manilow
      Kevin Bacon
      Burt Lancaster
      George Orwell
      Steve Jobs
      Mark Twain
      Voltaire
      George Carlin
      Rodney Dangerfield
      Adam Savage – Mythbusters
      George Bernard Shaw
      Simon de Beauvoir
      Isaac Asimov
      Thomas Paine
      Gene Roddenberry – creator of Star Trek
      Rod Serling – creator of The Twilight Zone
      John Stossel
      AC Grayling
      Dan Dennett
      Thomas Mann
      Noel Coward
      Jodie Foster
      Stephen Fry
      Margot Kidder
      Larry King
      Keira Knightley
      Brad Pitt
      Robyn Williams
      Stanley Kubrick
      Neil DeGrasse Tyson – Physicist
      Richard Feynman – Physicist
      Buckminster Fuller
      Gene Kelly
      Paul Robeson

      Such a bunch of sad people. NOT!

      • Why do atheists have to lie all the time? Their lists always contain people who have quite clearly said “I am not an atheist”, or have been atheist in the past, but return to the faith.

        Why are atheists unable to clearly state facts rather than bending them and making them up? I thought they were the rigorously scientific ones, not simply propagandists.

        And, you have many names on there twice, maybe three times.

        Thomas Edison ” “I do not believe in the God of the theologians; but that there is a Supreme Intelligence I do not doubt.”

        The Beatles? George Harrison was an extremely devout person, John Lennon was not very religious in the conventional sense, but he prayed “After his death in 1980, his wife, Yoko Ono said “John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him”
        “McCartney pursued a kind of secular spirituality later in life, praying for his wife Linda when she had trouble giving birth to their daughter Stella, and declaring in the 1990s “I’m not religious, but I’m very spiritual.” His 2001 song “Freedom”, written in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, spoke of freedom as “a right given by God”. (He had been waiting on board an airliner at John F. Kennedy Airport, when other airliners were being hijacked to make the attacks.)
        Speaking at the Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, in February 2010, Starr stated that he had recently returned to monotheism, saying “I stepped off the path there for many years and found my way [back] onto it, thank God.”

        Charles Schultz – although in one interview he said he did not go to church anymore and he thought maybe he was a secular humanist, his wife said “God was very important to him, but in a very deep way, in a very mysterious way.”

        Abraham Lincoln? “As a young man he was a skeptic. He frequently referenced God. He had a deep knowledge of the Bible and quoted it often….However he did believe in an all-powerful God that shaped events and, by 1865, was expressing those beliefs in major speeches”

        You get the idea. The list is bogus

        • Roger Ebert refuses to call himself an atheist.

          What you have is a lot of people who want their own designer religion, where they believe in something, but they don’t know what. But they always seem to refuse to be called atheists.

          Warren Buffett is an agnostic, not an atheist

          Andrew Carnegie:
          “Later in life, Carnegie’s firm opposition to religion softened. For many years he was a member of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, pastored from 1905 to 1926 by Social Gospel exponent Henry Sloane Coffin, while his wife and daughter belonged to the Brick Presbyterian Church.[71] He also prepared (but did not deliver) an address to St. Andrews[disambiguation needed] in which he professed a belief in “an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed”.[72]”

          Thomas Paine:

          “About his own religious beliefs, Paine wrote in The Age of Reason:
          I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
          I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
          All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.[70]”

          That’s all I have time for. But basically, your list should probably consist of only about 20% of the names you have on there.

          • Of the approximately 82 people on the list, about 50 are artists and entertainers. Artists and entertainers are known for being flighty and for having rather immoral lives, marrying several times, taking drugs, being in rehab, having to go to therapy all the time, etc.

          • Gene Kelly:
            After his departure from the Catholic Church, Kelly became an agnostic and remained so for the rest of his life

            George Orwell was another of those confusing people:

            “Orwell was a communicant member of the Church of England, he attended holy communion regularly,[139] and allusions to Anglican life are made in his book A Clergyman’s Daughter. Mulk Raj Anand has said that, at the BBC, Orwell could, and would, quote lengthy passages from the Book of Common Prayer.[140] At the same time he found the church to be a “selfish … church of the landed gentry” with its establishment “out of touch” with the majority of its communicants and altogether a pernicious influence on public life.[141] Moreover, Orwell expressed some scepticism about religion: “It seems rather mean to go to HC [Holy Communion] when one doesn’t believe, but I have passed myself off for pious & there is nothing for it but to keep up with the deception.”[142] Yet, he was married according to the rites of the Church of England in both his first marriage at the church at Wallington, and in his second marriage on his deathbed in University College Hospital, and he left instructions that he was to receive an Anglican funeral.. Stephen Ingle wrote that it was as if the writer George Orwell “vaunted” his unbelief while Eric Blair the individual retained “a deeply ingrained religiosity”.

          • The Paine quote is probably a David Bartonism (as 99% of the unattributed founder quotes talking of religion in glowing terms). The an was extremely critical of religious belief. Quote mining is a really dishonest tactic.

            So out of curiosity, where did you cut and paste from (you left footnote numbers all over your post)?

          • @bfigJigm

            Most drug addicts are religious.
            Philip S. Hoffman was Christian. It didn’t help him.

            Most immoral people in the news are religious.
            Most immoral events in history were conducted by religious people who claimed in one way or another, “God is on our side.”

            Education is what you seem to be lacking.

          • ATHEIST + AGNOSTIC MAX

            @bfigJigm,

            You are completely confused
            by the words you are throwing around.

            AGNOSTIC = I don’t know if God exists.
            ATHEIST = I do not believe a God exists.

            ATHEISM is not a claim that God is impossible.
            It is an opinion that GOD is unlikely.
            AND Every Agnostic is a non-believer by definition.

            ATHEISTS DO NOT CLAIM THAT GOD IS IMPOSSIBLE
            IS NOT A CLAIM WE MAKE.
            AGNOSTICS – LIKE ME – DO NOT MAKE CLAIMS.

            Because agnostics themselves do not realize that ATHEISM is simply non-belief they shy away from the WORD ATHEISM.
            But that does not change anything.

            AGNOSTIC = ATHEIST

            GET OVER IT!

            You do not understand the words that you are throwing around.

      • And did you notice how many of these people are artists and entertainers? Hardly the most rational bunch of people. In fact, they are known for their goofy ideas, their immoral lifestyles, etc.

        • @ bfigjigm,

          Oh, You are precious!

          You said,
          Atheists! Hardly a rational bunch- actors!…. they are known for their goofy ideas, their immoral lifestyles…”

          LIST OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLE:

          Rudolf Hess
          Adolf Eichmann
          The Koch Brothers
          Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr.
          Osama Bin Laden
          Ayman Al Zawahiri
          Joseph Mengele
          Reichsfuhrer SS Julius Shreck
          Reichsfuhrer SS Joseph Berchtold
          Max Koegl (Manager of Auchwitz)
          Reichsfuhrer SS Erhard Heiden
          Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler
          Reichsfuhrer SS Karl Hanke
          Adolf Eichmann
          Adolf Deikmann
          Fritz Hardjenstein
          Werner Braune
          Fred Phelps, Sr.
          JIm and Tammy Faye Bakker
          Matthew Hale
          Al Queda
          Jim Jones
          Saddam Hussein
          David Koresh
          Zionists
          Suicide Bombers
          Emperor Hirohito
          Pat Robertson
          Michelle Bachmann
          Sarah Palin
          Franz Stangl
          Paul Blobel
          Hermann Goering
          Josef Kramer
          Jerry Falwell
          Oskar Dirlewanger
          Jimmy Swaggart
          Creflo Dollar
          Ilse Koch
          Joseph Goebbels
          Reverend Sun Myung Moon
          Sunday Adelaja
          Pope Leo X
          Anathole Serromba
          Jean Bertand Aristide
          Mel Gibson
          Dick Cheney
          Adolph Hitler
          Kim Jong-Il
          Kaiser Wilhelm II
          Kim Il Sung
          Rush Limbaugh
          Erst Kaltenbruenner
          Michael Bray
          Paul Jennings Hill
          Father Charles Edward Coughlin
          Tomás de Torquemada
          Emperor Constantine

          If god is good – why does he have such a disgusting marketing team?

        • @bfig,

          Entertainers? Actors?

          95% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences are Atheists.
          That is about 3,000 people.
          55% of the doctors working for Doctors Without Borders are Atheists (22,000 members worldwide working for free every day)
          100% of American Association of Atheists (50,000)

          If morality comes from Jesus, God, The Bible or Allah, one would expect these people to be stealing, raping, murdering and deeply hated.
          Actually, these are the most stable, peaceful, productive, generous individuals in society.

          They are almost never arrested!
          Their numbers in prison are so small that it is statistically zero.
          Atheists almost never end up in jail.

          Atheists are not only good without god. They are statistically the best behaving, most generous members of society.

          Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand are simultaneously the most peaceful and most atheistic countries in the world.

          THE NEGATIVE LIES AND MYTHS ABOUT ATHEISTS MUST END!

          • I thought Scotland had the one of the lowest church attendance figures in Europe.

    • The Great God pan

      I don’t know about Australia, but it seems to me that there must be a sizable audience for atheist-bashing in England, as I have seen innumerable columns devoted to demonizing atheists in the Guardian’s “Comment Is Free” section. I believe that section is edited by Andrew Brown, who loathes non-believers with a white-hot fury and is evidently quite popular in the UK.

  2. Some minor corrections:

    Steve Jobs became a Buddhist (and it probably killed him)
    The only confirmed atheist of the Beatles was John Lennon
    -Ringo has always been tight lipped on the subject. Who knows with him?
    -Paul is closer to a “none” with no affiliation but not rejecting belief
    -Harrison went all Hindu-like. (whiter “My Sweet Lord”?)

    Bruce Lee is my favorite entry on that list. It makes perfect sense to those familiar with his work but just doesn’t come to mind when people think about him. .

    • @Larry,

      Thanks. I appreciate any insights, corrections or illumination on what I thought to be true (The religious won’t say that.)

      The Beatles are a funny lot because they were playful with their answers very often.

      According to some sources The Beatles were certainly not believers in Jesus or Yahweh and were likely ‘nones’ for most of their lives. the Beatles were interviewed on the BBC in the late 1960s when John Lennon was asked about his famous quip when he said the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”. The question to John was “Do the Beatles believe in God?” and John Lennon said “Nope” – The questioner turned to the other three and asked if John was speaking for everyone regarding that question and Ringo said “yup.”

      So maybe they were just being playful – but none of them have shown any belief in a god in any serious way. Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” – if one were to read into it – always sounded like a song sung by an Atheist who was quite convinced he was singing to nothing: “I really want to know you…but…it takes so long my lord.” Of course, “All things must Pass” is far more Atheistic.

      Longing for a god and addressing a god in that tone of voice is Atheism in my opinion. But if Harrison is on record (pun) saying he believed in a god I stand corrected.

      McCartney once said some disparaging things about the Beatles 60′s ‘spirituality’ phase and laughed that the whole thing was nonsense when he was interview in the 1970s. Of course, “Let it Be” mentions “mother mary” and some people think the song touches on the consolation of prayer but truly it seems to be more about the consolation of music and not any belief in Mother Mary – it is artistic achievement to be sure.

      Steve Jobs was an adherent to Buddhist philosophy according to the book about his life – but it appears he did not ascribe to the supernatural beliefs. This puts him in the Atheist camp as he expresses disdain for god beliefs. At a famous graduation speech Jobs said “even those who believe in heaven don’t want to go just yet”. He seemed to suggest he was not one who believed in heaven.

      A lack of belief in God is a fine starting point. It is the true beginning of opening oneself up to all the knowledge that is out there.

      What is stupider than an 85 year old Priest who believes exactly the same thing he believed when he was 5 years old? The world needs inquiring minds not robots.

        • You are right about Jobs. He did ascribe to woo alternative therapies (which hastened his demise) but he did not claim a religious reason for it. He was just being a curmudgeon.

          George Harrison is really the only one who made any sort of public acknowledgment of the spiritual. Google the lyrics for “Life Itself”

          “All Things Must Pass” and “My Sweet Lord” sound atheistic in light of Abrahamic faiths. A rejection of that form of looking at religion. But in light of Hindu or Buddhist faiths, there is a lot in there. Hinduism doesn’t have an afterlife, Buddhism has one but it is nigh impossible to achieve.

          I would have a lot of trouble calling someone an atheist who said”
          “All religions are branches of one big tree. It doesn’t matter what you call Him just as long as you call.”

          “None” or Universalist (in the most general sense) would be a more appropriate description.

          • Regarding “Hinduism does not have an afterlife”:

            “The Upanishads describe reincarnation (punarjanma) (see also: samsara). The Bhagavat Gita, an important Hindu script, talks extensively about the afterlife. Here, the Lord Krishna says that just as a man discards his old clothes and wears new ones; similarly the soul discards the old body and takes on a new one. In Hinduism, the belief is that the body is but a shell, the soul inside is immutable and indestructible and takes on different lives in a cycle of birth and death. The end of this cycle is called “Mukti” (Sanskrit: मुक्ति) and staying finally with supreme God forever; is “Moksha” (Sanskrit: मोक्ष) or salvation.
            The Garuda Purana deals solely with what happens to a person after death. The God of Death Yama sends his representatives to collect the soul from a person’s body whenever he is due for death and they take the soul to Yama. A record of each person’s timings & deeds performed by him is kept in a ledger by Yama’s assistant, Chitragupta.”

          • Reincarnation precludes an afterlife. Souls come back to earth rather than stay eternally in a spiritual plane of existence. You only described the process a soul is reaped, but omit the part were it is sown back to earth. You are not correcting me, just giving half the story. A half truth is all false.

            Buddhism posits an end to reincarnation to those who can become the Buddha. A nigh impossible status. End of reincarnation is a actually annihilation of the soul. Souls having an end point.

            Both of these are perfect examples that the reaction to things which fly in the face of abrahamic faiths do not equal athieism.

        • So you go print a list of supposed atheists and you really don’t know if they are atheists or not?

          George Harrison:
          “If there’s a God, I want to see Him. It’s pointless to believe in something without proof, and Krishna consciousness and meditation are methods where you can actually obtain God perception. In that way you can see, hear and play with God. Perhaps this may sound weird, but God is really there next to you.”

          • Already corrected George Harrison issue with far less smarm. The advantage of not having dogmatic belief is the ability to revise an idea based on additional evidence without being offended about being corrected.

            George Harrison was a “none” or universalist. Someone of spiritual faith but not religious affiliation. Now Ringo’s beliefs is a mystery wrapped in an enigma tied with riddle’s bow.

          • From PLAYBOY, FEBRUARY 1965:

            McCartney: “We probably seem antireligious because of the fact that none of us believes in god.”
            Lennon: “If you say you don’t believe in God, everybody assumes you’re antireligious, and you probably think that’s what we mean by that. We’re not quite sure ‘what’ we are, but I know that we’re more agnostic than atheistic.”
            Playboy: “Are you speaking for the group, or just for yourself?”
            Lennon: “For the group.”
            Harrison: “John’s our official religious spokesman.”
            McCartney: “We all feel roughly the same. We’re all agnostics.”
            Lennon: “Most people are, anyway.”

            I did not pull it out of the air.

            The point is: They understood the word Agnostics as
            “non-believers” by another name.
            Non-belief is the specific definition of Atheism.

          • Larry has corrected me on Harrison. I accept the correction.
            Apparently George drifted to spirituality – He never claimed Jesus as Lord, though.

            And I’m still trying to find out if God believed in Harrison
            cuz we have a lot of evidence that he didn’t.

        • Although you would like that to be true, it isn’t.

          Throughout the word the places with the highest education and oldest populations are the least religious. Proselytizing is most effective where literacy and life spans are at their lowest.

        • ATHEIST + AGNOSTIC MAX

          @bfigJigm,

          I’m AGNOSTIC = I DO NOT KNOW IF GOD EXISTS.
          I’m also Atheist = I DO NOT BELIEVE A GOD EXISTS.

          I AM EXACTLY LIKE ALL OTHER AGNOSTICS:

          GENE KELLEY
          ROGER EBERT
          ETC…

          WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN A GOD.

    • Ever notice you don’t see too many comedians of distinct religious faith outside of Judaism and lapsed Catholicism. I have never seen a Christian (Protestant, evangelical …) comedian. I am sure they might exist. Maybe.

  3. Jonathan J. Turner

    You really have to see the complete chart to truly realize the extent to which which atheism is held in low esteem:

    http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/section-3-political-polarization-and-personal-life/

    If you scroll halfway down the page, you will see a table titled “Marriage to an Atheist Upsetting to Most Conservatives.” The “Unhappy” percentages have been cited in the article above.

    However, what I find interesting is that the percentage of people who would be “Happy” with an atheist in-law remains consistently tiny; in other words, as “Unhappy” decreases from conservative to liberal (73%-24%), “Doesn’t Matter” increases (24%-66%), but “Happy” stays low and about the same (2%-10%).

    Thus, in addition to the plentiful but varying Unhappiness with the idea of a new atheist in the family, this survey identifies an across-the-board lack of positive enthusiasm as well.

    • The tragedy:

      Most people don’t know how incredibly good most Atheists are.
      And they don’t know that most of the people they see in church are non-believers themselves.

      1400 currently active priests are members of the clergy project.
      They are all atheists and they are secretly looking for ways to leave the clergy.

      TheClergyProject.org

        • Terry Plank,

          Okay, 600 Forum Members. Thank you for that clarification.

          How many active priests and pastors are looking for help in getting out of their ministries? Is there an idea on that number?
          Isn’t that number much larger than the number who are finally vetted?

          Understandably, these active clergy don’t want others to know
          about their lack of faith so that is part of the confusion.

        • @Terry Plank,

          By the way, thank you for all you do for these ex-clergy.

          As a former true believer (though not clergy) it is an earth shaking experience to realize that the God claims believed over a lifetime
          are not true – and for a Priest, Nun or Pastor to make that discovery after a lifetime of investment must be existentially shattering.

          Former Reverend Jerry DeWitt’s stories break my heart. I’m sure each clergy member has similar heartbreaking experiences.

          I’m a huge supporter of the clergy project and I hope you continue making huge strides in the years ahead.

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