Why do we continue to be such a religious nation?

Polls consistently show that 96-97% of Americans continue to profess to believe in The Man in the Sky and the attendant mythology or variations thereof. Yet, in the liberal democracies of Western Europe–the societies that most closely resemble our own–:smack: damn, I forgot Canada–it’s so easy to forget Canada–religious belief is on the wane. What’s different about us? Why do we cling to the nonsense of god-ism?

The answer is probably buried in the reasons why individuals believe in religion, i.e., fear of death, fear of the unknown, wanting at least the illusion of control, providing explanations for difficult questions, social cohesion, and of course, religion as a meme. I just can’t parse out what it is about America that makes us so much more susceptible to this disease, especially since as worshippers at the altar of freedom (supposedly), we should be hostile to religion, which is the very antithesis of freedom.

If you personally believe in The Man in the Sky or one of his many variants, your reply to this discussion probably won’t be constructive or worthwhile, as your answer would probably be along the lines of, “Because it’s all true and we Americans are smarter than everyone else.” Dubious assertions.

96-97%? Really?

I can’t find a recent poll saying “96 or 97%”, but here are a few fairly recent ones which show that 90+% of Americans believe in God:

2011 Gallup poll: 92%

2008 Pew poll: 92%
(Interestingly, this one says that 1 in 5 Americans who self-identifies as “atheist” still says that they believe in God!)

A good start to ending religious beliefs was taking the “Pledge of Allegiance” out of schools because some atheist kids didn’t want any part of God in their life. We have godless TV and even more Atheists getting politically involved pushing their agendas in Washington. There are hosts of other reasons that I am afraid to voice due to possible retaliation.


SMACK There, I just retaliated him. His fears were well-founded. :smiley:

Some advice since you’re new here: If you’re going to start a bunch of threads on this forum, at least do some research first and bring some facts to the tables. Not just numbers you make up. And if you want reasoned debate, don’t poison the well.

As for your thesis, there has been a hypothesis that the US has traditionally had a much more competitive market for religions than Europe, where many countries have established religions. The US has also been a land to which religious refugees have flocked.

European states were historically linked to the/a Church, and as the old regimes fell, the Church lost status as well. We were founded as a secular nation from the start, even if we might be surprised at how much religion was immeshed with governance in the early days of the Republic.

This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a month. The Pledge of Allegiance is no longer recited in schools due to the subversive agitations of an army of godless atheist tykes. Sort of like an anti-Children’s Crusade.

So before 1954 we were less religious than we were after?

Some advice since you’re old here: Your first paragraph contained ranting. Your two subsequent paragraphs attempted to answer my question. “LET’S SEE SOME FACTS GOLDURNIT” is almost an internet cliche. The fact that America is a more religious nation than any of the other Western secular democracies is beyond dispute, but if you don’t accept that, then there’s no point in any further discussion. Your first actual point, though, was well made, though your second point would seem to indicate that we should have evolved into a highly secular nation.

As much as my “insulting your beliefs” must have upset you, it would be best if you confined your discourse to an actual analysis of the question I asked; since you’re old here, you must know that. Though I already said that Believers probably shouldn’t even bother to respond to this thread.

Please don’t be on my side. The image of atheists is bad enough already without having the equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church weighing in.

So it’s your impression that John Mace is a religious believer?

Good luck with that.


Yes, it’s my impression, from the “LET"S US HAVE US HERE SOME FACTS” rant that preceded the more thoughtful portion of his post. As it’s only an impression, it could easily be wrong. He didn’t say one way or the other, but his emotional reactions led me to the hypothesis that he was a Believer.

Nope. Advice. Take it or leave it.

It’s SOP here. You’re not going to change that.

It’s certainly true, so there is no reason to make up “facts” in support of it. There are actual facts out there aplenty.

Not really. The Churches are seen as institutions separate and apart from the state. That is not historically the case in Europe.

I’m an atheist. I just don’t go around insulting religious people as a matter of course.

You are aware, aren’t you, that the Pledge of Allegiance was not taken out of schools, and that the ‘under God’ part, was added?

I gather that you are objecting to my tone.

I was not attempting to establish a debate about the relative merits of Belief and atheism. I was attempting to ask why Belief is so rampant in this country, especially given some of our professed social values.

I suspect that the negative image of atheists stems from their exasperation due to the great reluctance of Believers (or anyone else, for that matter) to engage in any debate about religion from a logical standpoint. Instead, we get nonsense about the Pledge of Allegiance, etc.

In any case, John Mace is the only one so far to have even attempted to answer my question—what is the causal basis for our extremely high percentage of professed Believers?

The only belief of John Mace’s that you have apparently insulted is the one that we attract posters of superior debating skills.

Your claim for religiosity, while more or less correct, was backed up by a false claim.
You then poisoned the well of this thread by indicating that you are not going to believe that anyone with any intelligence would hold a different opinion than you hold and further made a comment that was a straw man argument (since it is unlikely that anyone in this board would argue in the silly way that you pretended).

So, basically, you have posted a rant, one that belongs in The BBQ Pit, pretending that you want a discussion that you seem to not to actually want to have, since you have already insulted half the possible participants while attrributing to them something silly that they would never say.

I would suggest that you heed the advice of other posters rather than pretending that you have a clue on how to get along on this board.

Nor do I. However, I feel perfectly free to “insult” any and all absurd ideas and ideologies.

This is a distinction that many, many, many people fail to understand. In attacking a (presumably flawed) idea and/or system of thought, one is not also attacking anyone who subscribes to such an idea.

The reactions to such illusory “attacks” refer to a particular type of cognitive bias where one defends one’s own ideas not on their merits, but simply because those ideas are one’s own. This can be seen in the phrase, to “adopt” an idea; one literally nurtures and bonds with it. This is one of many reasons why religious mythology is so pervasive.

I apologize for insulting you by implying that you were a Believer.

And there is place to do that called the BBQ Pit. Knock yourself out.

Yes, yes, yes. Anything on an internet board that you don’t agree with is a “rant.” I “poisoned the well” by saying that those who “hold a different opinion than (you) hold” are excluded from the discussion. Tired, tired internet tropes, and not even remotely true, SINCE:

I never offered an opinion as to why religion is so rampant in this country. I did try to exclude Believers from the debate since, AS TURNED OUT TO BE TRUE, said debate would likely veer off into an argument about the merits of religion.

If you, rather than “ranting,” would like to attempt to actually answer my question (rather than scolding me about how I post), that would be quite welcome.