Debate:Measuring how secular we really are

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Background[edit]

Just how secular is America? How religious are we? Simply referring to a dichotomous number-of-atheists versus number-of-theists and leaving it at that is neither reliable, or, more importantly, useful.

It is not reliable because, depending on who you ask, atheists comprise anywhere from 3% to 5% of the population. A few of the more well known atheists (can't remember who) suggest the number is greater, people are just afraid to "come out" as atheists. Bill Maher stated vaguely that "rationalists" (conveniently never supplying a definition of a rationalist) make up a whopping 20% of the population.

Conversely, even the number of Christians in America is suspect. Some sources say 80% of the United States is Christian, others report 75%. Columnist George Will stated that 55 million Americans are non-Christian—about 18.3%—which puts the number of Christians in America at 81.7%.

What is the actual number of atheists in the United States? Of non-Christians? Of Christians? And just how secular are the those Christians?

The problem with asking these questions is that (a) most rely on self-identification, which is not impartial or objective, and (b) the labels are not particularly useful.

The problem I put forward is, how can we measure a person's degree of "secular-ness" in a way that is useful, or rather, ascertains how religious people actually are (as opposed to sticking labels on people)? --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 13:34, 15 February 2008 (EST)

If we went by Andy's definition of a Christian, I am afraid the number would dwindle significantly, as all liberals or moderates are actually atheists no matter what they self-identify as. PoorEd 13:44, 15 February 2008 (EST)

Debate below here[edit]

I would suggest that the truly large and most important number concerning the religious affiliation of Americans would be of those that profess a religion (doesn't matter which) when asked, but are otherwise completely indifferent when the subject is no longer at hand. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 13:40, 15 February 2008 (EST)

Isn't that almost as fuzzy? My own thoughts are some sort of poll that asks people certain questions, worded in a way that avoids piquing their "they're asking what I self-identify as" sensors. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 13:45, 15 February 2008 (EST)

*Glances at article title* Is this discussion equating "secular" and "atheist"? As far as I know, you can profess to be religious but still be secular. For instance, I think many of the American founding fathers had some sort of religious beliefs but founded a secular state--which makes their accomplishment all the more impressive, IMO.--Bayesyikes 14:01, 15 February 2008 (EST)

No, I am not equating secular with atheist, by any means. --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 14:05, 15 February 2008 (EST)
Then the page title is quite confusing. Editor at CPBring TK back 14:08, 15 February 2008 (EST)
How? It says "secular", not atheist. If you feel it's misleading, would you suggest another title to move it to? --Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 14:10, 15 February 2008 (EST)
I got confused because the title says secular and the questions are about what percentage of Americans are atheists.--Bayesyikes 14:11, 15 February 2008 (EST)
Exactly. What is the question? Editor at CPBring TK back 14:12, 15 February 2008 (EST)
Er, yah... I didn't realize that. Suggestions to make it better?
Move to "Debate:Atheism in America" or something like that?--Bayesyikes 14:19, 15 February 2008 (EST)
How secular we are would seem to be related to how little we discuss religion at government-sponsored events. --PoorEd 14:20, 15 February 2008 (EST)

But is he a Christian?[edit]

Go and hang around a Christian bookstore. There you will find Christian cook books, Christian calenders, Christian egg timers, Christian home improvement books...THAT is what Schlafly is talking about when he equates "secular" and "atheistic".
Anything that doesn't specifically say it is Christian, is proven secular/atheist because....only secular/atheists have something to hide, namely that they ARE secular/atheist. Who else hides things like that? Well, Liberals, who are, shown by their deceit to be none other than the above mentioned secular/atheists themselves. Circular logic is a good thing because it's compact and easily trotted out to "refute" secular/atheists. CЯacke® 14:31, 15 February 2008 (EST)