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Non Believer Nation

The Rise of Secular Americans

David Niose

The Religious Right is a uniquely American phenomenon, and its rise correlates with undesirable social phenomenon which are also uniquely American, from high rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy, to low rates of scientific literacy. Defiant anti-intellectualism has become mainstream, resulting in disastrous public policy and the decay of rational discourse. When a substantial segment of the population stands opposed to science, reason and critical thinking, intelligent debate and policy making become impossible.

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'Secular' means "without religion". It does not mean "anti-religion". It means keeping religion and religious rules out of politics and law-making.

Hard to classify people - is someone who believes in an afterlife, but is otherwise not religious, or someone who calls themselves 'spiritual' but is otherwise non-rel, 'Secular'? Someone who uses birth control and doesn't think Jesus was a god, may still identify as Catholic.

Secular activism is not religion-bashing, it is defending the rights of those who choose a secular personal identity and worldview.

USA has homicide rate of 5.5 per thousand - significantly higher than all other first world countries. (Canada 1.8, France 1.4, UK 1.3, Germany 0.8) And it's the countries with the lowest levels of religiosity that have the lowest homicide rates. Higher rates of belief in, and worship of, a creator, correlate with higher rates of homicide, early and teen mortality, teen pregnancy and abortion. On every measure, it's the US which is most dysfunctional. And within the United States, it's the most religious that are the most dysfunctional.

The US is the only developed nation that retains the levels of religosity found in less developed societies. And America fails the education tests. Most developed nations are in the top bands of science and math education. America is always down the bottom. And strong religosity is linked to anti-intellectualism.

When compare values and beliefs of atheists vs religious, the former are markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less close-minded and less authoritarian. 38% secular Americans supported George Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq vs 68% of evangelical Christians.

Not trying to say religion is responsible for social ills, but it is clear that religion in America does little to prevent many of the social ills that modern civilization tries to reduce. Compared to the rest of the world, America is more violent and criminal, more ignorant and anti-intellectual, and more sexually uninformed. All this while simultaneously claiming to be pious and upright and an example to the rest of the world.

If Hindus were taking over the school boards and demanding that science lessons taught the validity of reincarnation, conservative Christians would be up in arms.

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