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Apr. 3 2009 - 1:01 pm | 236 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Christians Who Don’t Believe in God

How people answer poll questions is often fascinating. As is how they construct ideas about their own beliefs and identities.

To wit: Say you don’t believe in God. You’re an atheist, right? Well, no…

According to a recent Pew survey, roughly 5% of Americans say they don’t believe in God. How many Americans are atheists? A little more than 1%.

You see, only 24% of the 5% nonbelievers actually identify as atheist. Understandably, 15% of that 5% call themselves agnostics. Fine. Another 35% of the 5% call themselves “nothing in particular.” Again, fine, no one need trouble him or herself about life’s deepest questions, as it’s ultimately a waste of time (I’m not being sarcastic here, if I sound it).

But 14% of the 5% nonbelievers call themselves Christians. Four percent call themselves Jewish.

I suppose I even understand the 4% Jewish nonbelievers. I once asked a rabbi if it was okay to convert if you didn’t so much believe in God or the Bible or any of that nonsense. She said sure.

But atheists might take note of just how alienating their preferred label is when three-quarters of the people who agree with them don’t particularly want to be associated with them. We tend to think in terms of groups and tribes, so even when we don’t believe in God, we might not want to leave our Christian or Jewish “group” and affiliate ourselves with… often-strident weirdos.


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  1. collapse expand

    “often-strident weirdos”? You’re and often-strident weirdo!

  2. collapse expand

    I suspect certain people like the cultural affiliation with Judaism or Catholicism even if they don’t actually believe in the tenets of the faith itself.

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    About Me

    I'm a freelance writer and blogger based in Brooklyn, NY. My background is mostly in politics. I've worked on the editorial boards of the New York Sun and New York Post. In 2006, I wrote a book, "The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party" (Wiley). I've also done my share of freelancing, for places like the Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Reason, and RealClearPolitics.

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