Nontheism increasing in U.S. and worldwide

Sep 19, 2012

For 19 years, Dan Barker preached from a Christian pulpit. Now, he’s co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and is an atheist activist. He said he outgrew his religious beliefs. These days, that’s not unusual.

“Agree with it or not, atheism is really growing," he said. "Millions and millions of good Americans don’t believe in a God.”

Barker’s remarks were part of his presentation at a two-day symposium about religion held at Westminster College in Fulton earlier this week. He highlighted statistics and thoughts behind the decreasing number of people who believe in a god or call themselves religious.

“Fifty-nine percent call themselves religious,” he said. That’s according to a worldwide WIN-Gallup Poll. “Forty-one percent of our planet does not consider itself to be religious.”

According to the American Religious Identification Survey – so, we’re talking just the United States now – more than a million people said they were either atheist or agnostic back in 1990. Now, that number is more than 3 and a half million. 

Adults younger than 30 are particularly not religious – according to a Pew Forum survey, one in four say they are either atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular.

“Someday we’ll be looking back and you’ll be able to say you were part of that generation that was turning the corner, taking us out of delusional thinking,” he said.

This story was produced in partnership with ColumbiaFAVS.com.