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View Diary: ARIS 2008 shows Numbers of U.S. Atheists and "No Religion"-ists Booming (91 comments)

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  •  Saying UUs are religious is a bit like (1+ / 0-)
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    saying rectangles are square. True for some, not true for others.

    Anyway, it's a bit jarring to hear that there are more atheists than mainstream non-Baptist Protestants. I always suspected that had to be the case, but it's still jarring to see the statistic.

    Oh, and bring on the Unitarian Jihadists.

    Leave it to Republicans to set the house on fire and then rant that the fire department is socialist.

    by johnsonwax on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 11:17:18 AM PDT

    •  I did not say (1+ / 0-)
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      that "UUs are religious." I said that Pete Stark does not fit into ARIS's "No Religion" category; they track UUs separately. And in light of the UUA's adamant assertion that Unitarian Universalism is a religion, that categorization is well justified.

      I was a UU atheist for several years. I assure you that there are a very large number of UUs--including the folks running the Association--who have no time for the notion that a UU can be non-religious, or that UUism is in any noteworthy sense not a religion.

      That inside baseball aside, Stark's election is simply not evidence that someone who puts "None" into the "What's your religion?" blank can get elected.

      •  I think I remember you now (0+ / 0-)

        from a recent diary of mine.  I'd rather not reopen that discussion.  But you are right that your point about Pete Stark was that he does not fall into ARIS's "No Religion" category even though he is an atheist.  You weren't making a characterization about UUism.  And yes, it is troubling that people cannot get elected without a religious affiliation (and in some places, the range of electable religious affiliations is very narrow).

        Civil marriage is a civil right.

        by UU VIEW on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 12:08:15 PM PDT

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        •  :-) (1+ / 0-)
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          UU VIEW


          I think there are real problems with the UU hierarchy's scornful attitude toward the traditional conception (claudew below calls it "the common sense definition") of "religion," but that approach does at least provide a reasonably easy answer on this ARIS taxonomy issue: UUism loudly self-defines as a religion.

          Anyway, it doesn't seem as if you're exactly itchin' for an argument. :-)

          in some places, the range of electable religious affiliations is very narrow.


      •  Ridiculous Distinction (0+ / 0-)

        I don't give a damn about ARIS's classifications, the common sense definition of someone with no religion includes all atheists, even those who may go to a church (even others beside UU) for social or other reasons.

        I am an atheist but my husband is a Christian and we have talked about attending UU services together. It hasn't happened but if it does I would still consider myself "non-religious" regardless of how the UU defines itself. I'm sure there are other atheists in mixed marriages who do that. I even attend Episcopal services and social events now with my husband, who is an organist. I am very open about my atheism but I am respectful of their beliefs (as much as possible).

        The dividing line is belief in a deity and it is far more important to me to have a Congressperson who is an atheist than one who doesn't go to church but refuses to reveal whether they believe in God or not.

        •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

          It's not a "ridiculous distinction"--it's the very same distinction that any competent demographic study makes between people who lack a religion and people who lack a belief in gods. Those sets demonstrably aren't the same; as the site linked in this comment notes, ARIS 2008 found that 21% of the "Nones" believe that "There is definitely a personal God," and an additional 28% of "Nones" believe "There is a higher power but no personal God."

          I am an atheist but my husband is a Christian and we have talked about attending UU services together. It hasn't happened but if it does I would still consider myself "non-religious" regardless of how the UU defines itself.

          As an atheist who tried exactly that for seven years, I wish you the best of luck convincing the folks who run Unitarian Universalism that you are, or indeed anyone is, "non-religious." What you consider "the common sense definition" is roundly scorned by a significant proportion of UUs. Prepare to be told that you are the captive of an ignorant notion of "religion" that only fundamentalists accept.

          Regardless, my point is that the ability of anyone who has no religion to be elected to high office is quite undemonstrated. Asked what his religion is, Pete Stark can answer, both honestly and accurately, that he's a UU. Millions of us can't honestly say that. He is an atheist, but that demonstrably does not stop plenty of people--including a huge proportion of UUs--from arguing that he's religious nonetheless.

          “I’m not religious,” people sometimes claim. “Then tell me about your experience,” I say in return. We may not be conventionally pious, but we all experience life, and there are religious dimensions to explore within that experience.

          I make the same point to those who tell me, “I don’t believe in God.” “Tell me about the God that you don’t believe in,” I often reply. “The chances are that I don’t believe in ‘Him’ either.” I believe, as Dag Hammarskjöld did, that “God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity. But we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.”

          - Rev. John A. Buehrens (Unitarian Universalist Association President, 1993-2001), in Chapter 2 of A Chosen Faith, "the classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism."

          Lovely, no?

        •  ARIS Allows people to classify themselves (0+ / 0-)

          Did you even bother to educate yourself about the ARIS study, the third in the past 20 years?

          It does not present people with a list of religious affiliations, as all other surveys do, and ask people to check one off.

          It asks an open question: what is your religion, if any - and follows that up with deeper questions such as belief in a personal god, higher power, agnostic, atheist or unsure; preference for a religious vs secular wedding and funeral; church attendance, and more.

          "I don't give a damn about ARIS' classification" is an emotional response that jumps to a conclusion before sufficient knowledge of the facts.

          One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

          by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 04:47:40 PM PDT

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