Saturday, July 31, 2010

Religious trends

That was then:

The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church by Christine Wicker

"The fastest growing 'religious group' in America is non-believers."

Americans' Confidence in Religion Waning, Poll Finds

"In other major findings, the percentage of Americans who believe that religion can answer society's problems is at an all-time low, with only 53 percent saying religion "can answer all or most of today's problems."

This is now:

News Pleas

"Today I'd like to send out three quick pleas for your support of other folk trying to fight the good fight for reason and science...Help the Skeptical Inquirer: Prices of materials have gone up, funding has dropped, and subscribership is actually shrinking. SI might go under if trends don't reverse."


  1. But couldn't this just be the recession hitting atheists and theists alike?

  2. But, Victor, where's their sense of commitment and shared sacrifice?

  3. It's definitely that the recession is hitting everybody ... but it still is amusing. Fundraising for non-profits is in a majorly rough patch and while I don't want to be too detailed the last ten years of my life were in non-profit fundraising research so I've kind of been in a position to know.

  4. Another possible way to interpret the numbers is that atheists worldwide (and especially in America) are so confident that their side is winning (and that religion is in serious decline) that there's no more point in funding such groups, magazines and materials. It could be a sign of overconfidence on their part.

    Much of "modern" atheistic literature is a rehashing of (stale) Biblical and theological criticisms of the 19th century. Since those kind of (bad) arguments are enough to squelch the consciences of the vast majority of atheists, and since much of that stuff is freely available on the web, there'd be no point in supporting those organizations.

    Atheistic literature is very formulaic. After watching enough Scooby Doo episodes, you finally learn the lesson that there aren't any real supernatural entities and that there's always a naturalistic explanation. Oh, and that the bad guys (i.e. money grubbing preachers) wear masks. So there's no point in watching any more episodes (or paying for more godless material).

  5. I'm unsure that one Ath/Ag magazine hitting hard times can be extrapolated to the movement also being in hard times. Numbers of unbelievers could still be rising even when subscriptions are dropping.

  6. In short recessions charitable giving usually increases and only decreases in major recessions as money gets too tight. Thing is the money given to charitable/non-profit causes spikes in cases where the non-profit is doing something fairly tangible (i.e. helping the sick, helping the poor). It may be that groups dedicated to education whether theistic or atheistic are hit harder in terms of public giving than groups that do something more visble in the local community. Even unbelievers are willing to give to the Salvation Army or Union Gospel Mission because they support the tangible goals of preventing alcoholism or supporting domestic violence shelters. Just promoting the cause of unbelief or belief itself may not be so high a priority.

  7. The magazine industry as a whole has been in decline for a while now.