"A new study by The Barna Group examines the numbers, lifestyles and self-perceptions of America’s atheists and agnostics, contrasting the no-faith audience with those who actively participate in the Christian faith.More numbers in the article.
In the study, the no-faith segment was defined as anyone who openly identified themselves as an atheist, an agnostic, or who specifically said they have "no faith." In total, this group represents a surprisingly small slice of the adult population, about one out of every 11 Americans (9%). However, in a nation of more than 220 million adults, that comprises roughly 20 million people.
Atheists and agnostics are distinct demographically from the active-faith segment. The no-faith audience is younger, and more likely to be male and unmarried. They also earn more and are more likely to be college graduates.
Atheists and agnostics are also significantly less likely to say they are convinced they are right about things in life (38% versus 55%).
A Secular, Faith-Resistant Mindset
is More Common among Young Adults
generation current _____ages __ 1992 __ 2007
adult Mosaics ________ 18-22 __ -- _____ 19%
Busters _____________ 23-41 __ 16% ___ 14%
Boomers ____________ 42-60 __ 8% ____ 9%
Elders ______________61+ ____ 4% ____ 6%
They are less likely than active-faith Americans to be registered to vote (78% versus 89%), to volunteer to help a non-church-related non-profit (20% versus 30%), to describe themselves as "active in the community" (41% versus 68%), and to personally help or serve a homeless or poor person (41% versus 61%). They are also more likely to be registered to vote as an independent or with a non-mainstream political party."
Barna.org June 11, 2007
A lot of the numbers are as expected, but I was surprised about the voting difference. It can mean a disillusion with American politics, which is no surprise, considering the role that religion plays. This also corresponds with the fact that those who do vote are often voting for independents.
But remember: no vote, no change!
A thing that will no doubt look bad for the average American is that the non-faith group is less likely to spend money on charity while at the same time earn more. (Wonder how the stats would have looked if they accidentally phoned Bill Gates!) Considering the younger age, I think this may be an age/family thing. Even if charities for religious purposes are not counted (which dramatically decreased the gap), I think there's a fair chance that churches do collect money also for non-religious purposes, and that non-church goers therefore are not asked as much. Anyway, I don't live there, so I'll let others do the talking.
But just to have said it: in terms of foreign aid, European secular countries do a lot better than the US, so I don't accept the notion that without religion, no-one will care about other people. I've met too many non-believing bleeding heart liberals in my life to think otherwise. It's just that it's organized differently.