A new poll cited at the Florida Ledger finds that 82% of Americans say they believe in an afterlife.
A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that about 16 percent of American adults have no particular religious belief, including about 4 percent who identify themselves as atheists or agnostics. A 2007 Pew survey showed20 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 have no religious affiliation, almost double the percentage in 1986.
The number of 82% early in the article is not cited to a specific source. Assuming 18% of Americans do not believe in an afterlife, that flies in the face of the other statistics in the study because guess what? If you don’t believe in the afterlife, you don’t believe in religion. (The one exception here would be perhaps if you see Buddhism as a religion, in which case there is still an aspect of samsara or return to the world).
I was interesting in the number of 18%. It seems to make the non-religious community seem larger. It’s probably a more accurate number of non-religious people in this country. Whenever polled, the number of atheists will always remain low, like the 4% from the Pew Forum study because people don’t like to be labeled as atheists. They will say they’re not sure they believe in god, but if you call them agnostic, it bothers them. They may say they certainly don’t believe in god, but they won’t label themselves as an atheist because of its negative connotation. But regardless. If the 82% number is accurate, that means that almost a fifth of this nation doesn’t believe in the concepts of heaven and hell! That’s an incredible number.
It’s a lot of people. Imagine if the combined population of Iraq and Afghanistan did not believe in an afterlife. I think that would significantly change things for the better. There are possibly that many people HERE in the U.S. who don’t believe in an afterlife.
If you get some time today, or perhaps over the upcoming Independence Day, take a while to sit down and watch Zeitgeist, The Movie. I’ll paste the movie here and would be flattered if you watched it from my blog, but you can watch a larger screen version on Google Video. Also if you’re looking for something to do, check out http://michaelkentLIVE.com.
The movie has been discussed all over the net, including the JREF forums, where a generally well-educated crowd picks apart at it a bit. False claims and plagiarism seem to be the biggest accusations.
Anyway, there’s a fair amount of buzz about this internet “movie,” so you can watch and make up your own mind!
I have decided to close down the comments section of this post. Why?
WASHINGTON – Seven years after George W. Bush won the presidency in part with a direct appeal to conservative religious voters, it seems all the leading 2008 presidential candidates are discussing their religious and moral beliefs, even when they’d rather not.
Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have hired strategists to focus on reaching religious voters. Democrats in general are targeting moderate Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants and even evangelicals, hoping to put together a winning coalition.
Some top-tier Republican candidates, the natural heirs to conservative religious support, are finding the issue awkward to handle.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been questioned so much about his Mormon faith – 46 percent of those polled by Gallup in March had a negative opinion of the religion – that he has taken to emphasizing that he is running for a secular office.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic who says he gave serious consideration as a young man to becoming a priest, is fending off critics because he supports abortion rights.
In past campaigns, Republicans nearly cornered the conservative religious vote. Now, Democrats are speaking plainly about their beliefs.
“I think the majority of Americans, the people who largely decide elections, what they are looking for – particularly in these times – is a really good and decent human being to be president,” Sen. John Edwards said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a Catholic, told an April forum at Boston College that Democrats have made “a huge mistake over the years” by not talking more openly about how their personal faith informs their public-policy positions.
But Obama’s close relationship with his own pastor at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ has become a campaign issue. The cleric’s theology emphasizes “black values” and strengthening the black community.
Seven of the 18 candidates for president – four Democrats and three Republicans – are Catholic. Besides Giuliani, the four Democrats also support abortion rights.
But support for abortion rights doesn’t necessarily hurt candidates with Catholic voters, who support legalized abortion in all or most circumstances by 53 percent to 43 percent, according to 2004 exit polling. *
BEIJING (AP) – Beijing accused a U.S. advisory panel on Tuesday of taking “potshots” at China in a report that accuses the government of imprisoning and torturing people for practicing their religion.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in its findings last week that every religious community in China continues to be subject to serious restrictions, state control, and repression.”
The report shows the panel’s ignorance and prejudice regarding China. It skewed and attacked China’s policy on religion and ethnic minorities,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site.
China is officially atheist. Christians, Buddhists, Taoists and Muslims are allowed to worship, but only in churches, temples or mosques run by state-monitored groups.
Christians who attend underground churches, as most do in China, are often jailed and harassed.
Abuses against prominent religious leaders and others include imprisonment, torture and other forms of ill treatment, the report said.
Jiang accused the committee of taking “potshots at the religious situation in China and some other developing countries.”
The Chinese government targets Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, “underground” Roman Catholics, unregistered Protestants and spiritual groups such as the Falun Gong, said the panel, a 10-member commission that reports to the White House, the State Department and Congress.
“It is an obvious fact that the Chinese government protects the freedom of religious belief of its citizens and the Chinese citizens enjoy full religious freedom protected by law,” she said.
On p. 54, Hitchens writes, “Orthodox Jews conduct Congress by means of a hole in the sheet…” This is, as even most idiots know, a total fabrication. As a lie, it’s not as bad as the blood libel, but it’s not so far from the old tales of sexual perversion in Catholic monasteries and convents — it’s a lie meant to discredit a whole people by making them seem sexually bizarre and far outside decent society.
Recently, Hitchens was on Lou Dobbs and Dobbs put up a list from Hitchens which listed famous virgin births. One of the ones that struck me as odd was Buddha. In my studies of Buddhism, I don’t remember ever reading anything about a virgin birth.
He is referring to stories that later came about regarding Buddha being born through a slit in his mother’s side. This is nothing but an example of a story becoming corrupted over time with repeated re-telling. More info here.
When a child hits another and the second child cries, the first one doesn’t need to have read the Bible or gone to Sunday school to know his action was wrong. Nor does he need to fear eternal damnation to discourage him from doing it again.
I wish I had this article to show my friend during our conversation before. I may send it to him now, after the fact.
I like using the example of Buddhism to talk about morality and atheism:
According to the Buddhist philosophy, every bit of suffering that I feel can be traced back to a particular point in time or a particular feeling or action that has led to my own suffering. In other words, we cause it ourself, whether it be through a lack of compassion or something as broad as a general attachment to a desire to feel needed. This is karma. Many people use the word karma to mean something completely different, where the effect is very separate from the cause. In karma, cause and effect are related.
Buddhism points out that the human condition is all that is needed to be able to know right from wrong. Societies can base their laws off of basic human instinct. We don’t need a guidebook to teach us these lessons.