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Subject: Demographics of Atheism In article <1991Jun25.192911.12814@beach.csulb.edu> sichermn@beach.csulb.edu (Jeff Sicherman) asks: > Are there any reliable figures on the demographics of atheism ? >That is, percentages of population that classify themselves as atheist >or the related philosophies (no arguments please) such as agnostic. >Particularly curious as to gender, race, and familiar religious history. Religious preference was once a question on the census, but that was challenged and removed, as many people felt that the government had no right to make a person state their religious preferences. I tend to agree with that, however that has meant that there hasn't been any reliable numbers for quite a while (over 50 years, I think). I don't have the sources in front of me, but I think the percentages reported for atheists were between 6 and 7 percent. There have been other surveys, notably by Gallup, which tend to couch the questions in such a way that a militant atheist could be counsidered pious. However, recently the ICR Survey Research Group of Media, PA was commissioned by the Graduate School and University Center of CUNY to do a massive survey on religious belief. From April 1989 to April 1990, 113,000 people in 48 states were asked the question "What is your religion?". 7.7% answered "none" or "no religion". Another 2.2% refused to answer, which likely included at least a few atheists who were afraid to admit it, among the religious people who don't talk about their beliefs. Those who answered "agnostic", "Unitarian", or "humanist" were counted separately. I don't have the exact percentage breakdown for them, but they are less than the "none" category. So, at least 7.7% to possibly 10% of the population is atheist. Of the "no religion" answers, 51.5% are married, 23.6% are college graduates, 57.9% have graduated high school and have some college, and 18.5% have not graduated high school. Some interesting breakdowns by state for %atheist are: Arizona 12.2% Nevada 13.2% California 13.0% New Mexico 10.0% Colorado 11.4% Oregon 17.2% Idaho 11.9% Vermont 11.4% Maine 10.0% Washington 14.0% Montana 10.2% Wyoming 13.5% And, not surprisingly, Alabama 3.9% North Dakota 1.6% Louisiana 2.9% South Carolina 3.2% Mississippi 2.8% South Dakota 2.5%

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