James Kirk Wall Presents the Religiously Unaffiliated

On May 9th I spoke at Prospect High School to discuss the non-religious perspective to teachers of Religious Studies and other academics. We had a great discussion. About 12 educational professionals attended. Below are slides from my presentation which includes statistics from three different studies.

So why include the religiously unaffiliated in a religious studies course when it’s not a religion? That was a good question brought up by one of the teachers. When I took Religious Studies in college, there wasn’t a non-religious/atheist/secular humanist part of the curriculum.

Some school districts require a non-religious portion be included while others do not.

Reasons include adding diversity to the class, acknowledging the significant portion of the non-religious in our population (especially with younger demographics) and comparing the similarities and differences of secular humanism ethics with religious moral guidance. To flip the question, why wouldn’t a segment of the course cover the unaffiliated? What would it take away?

The Presentation included the following slides:

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Slide 5 – Are the religiously unaffiliated distributed evenly across the world? No. 76% are in the Asia Pacific region according to this study.
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Slide 6 – If atheism is defined as people with a “lack of” belief in god, there are far more atheists by definition than people who actually adopt that label.
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Slide 7 – The unaffiliated are growing, especially the younger segments. The “Greatest” generation is the only demographic that reduced in % from 2007 to 2012.
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Slide 9 – In the U.S. white men have the highest percentage; however, it’s not that much more than women, Black and Hispanic. There are more of the religiously unaffiliated in the West than the South.
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Slide 10 – 90% are not looking for a religion that’s right for them.
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Slide 11 – The unaffiliated are predominantly pro-choice and pro-gay rights.
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Slide 12 – The Republicans are getting crushed in this demographic.
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Slide 13 – When it comes to criminals behind bars and criminals who should be behind bars, the religiously unaffiliated have barely any representation.
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Slide 16 – Everyone in Ireland knows if they’re religious or not. 23% of Japan doesn’t know! This may be because religion is more of a grey area in that country and/or perhaps the survey didn’t present the question clearly.
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Slide 17 – Some of these numbers are extremely high in percentage of increase.
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Slide 19 – 68% believe in heaven, but only 64% believe in survival of the soul after death. This means 4% believe in a heaven that’s really empty. 26% believe in witches. 19% are not sure if there are witches.
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Slide 20 – This is a picture of the first atheist taken about 70,000 years ago. His name was Ringo.
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References:
Americans' Belief in God, Miracles and Heaven Declines By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

WIN-Gallup International
GLOBAL INDEX OF RELIGIOSITY AND ATHEISM

Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project
The Global Religious Landscape

One of the primary reasons Republicans are getting crushed in the religiously unaffiliated vote are their constant attacks on science. Below is the latest example.
Io9 – Mark Strauss - An Anti-Evolution Bill In Ohio Almost Included A Ban On Aristotle

Special thanks to John Camardella for inviting me to speak.

An example of a World Religion course description can be found at https://prospectworldreligion.wikispaces.com/file/view/WorldReligionSyllabus_2013-2014.pdf

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