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Are Atheists Healthy, Happy, Moral, etc.? | True Freethinker

I thought that it may be of interest to glean some information from various Barna Group studies with regards to the lives of atheists and their views on various issues. Following will be other interesting tidbits.
Note that the following categorizations are my own while the hyperlinks to the Barna Group updates are the titles given to the updates by the Barna Group.

I have categorized thusly:

CharityMoralitySocial / Societal / Political IssuesRelationships

Atheism as Anti-Theism

The tidbits will cover:

Religious WarsMiscSexualityIncarcerationLife ExpectancyCharity

Bright Family Values

New Study Shows Trends in Tithing and Donating – April 14, 2008

Christians tend to be the most generous group of donors. An examination of the three dominant subgroups within the Christian community showed that evangelicals, the 7% of the population who are most committed to the Christian faith, donated a mean of $4260 to all non-profit entities in 2007.Non-evangelical born again Christians, who represent another 37% of the public, donated a mean of $1581. The other 42% of the Christian population, who are aligned with a Christian church but are not born again, donated a mean of $865. Overall, the three segments of the Christian community averaged donations of $1426.The Christian giving was divided between Protestants (mean of $1705) and Catholics ($984).

In contrast, Americans associated with non-Christian faiths gave away a mean of $905 during 2007. Atheists and agnostics provided an average of $467 to all non-profit organizations.

Americans Donate Billions to Charity, But Giving to Churches Has Declined – April 25, 2005

In 2004…Barna’s national study found that the people least likely to donate any money at all were…atheists and agnostics…A quarter or more…failed to give away any money in 2004.

Americans Are Misinformed About Poverty, But Widely Involved in Helping the Poor – June 25, 2007

Atheists and agnostics emerged as the segment of people least likely to do anything in response to poverty. They were less likely to engage in eight of the nine specific responses measured, and were the faith segment least likely to participate in eight of the nine responses evaluated.

The “nine specific responses” are the following:

giving material resources (such as clothing or furniture) directly to poor people

donating money to organizations that address poverty

giving food directly to a poor person or family

spending a “significant amount of time” praying for poor people

donating time to personally serve needy people in the community

visiting institutionalized elderly or sick people who are not family members

donating money to organizations that address poverty in foreign countries

serving as a tutor or friend to an underprivileged child

helping to build or restore a house for a poor family

Young Adults and Liberals Struggle with Morality – August 25, 2008

exposure to pornography, using profanity in public, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying…among skeptics (atheists and agnostics) participation in the eight behaviors ranged from a low of 11% (retaliating) up to a high of 60% (using profanity). While evangelicals averaged 6% participation in each of the eight behaviors mentioned, skeptics averaged five times that level (29%).

Other common acts among skeptics included exposure to pornography (50%), gossip (34%) and drunkenness (33%). People associated with faiths other than Christianity were twice as likely as evangelicals to engage in the behaviors explored.

Donating, Drinking, Depression and Devotion – Barna Survey Explores Changes in People’s Holiday Behaviors – December 15, 2008

Small but significant percentages of people said they would…drink more alcoholic beverages during the holidays, led by the under-25 crowd (12%), atheists and agnostics (11%) and liberals (11%).

Faith Has a Limited Effect On Most People’s Behavior – May 24, 2004

Atheists and agnostics were the group most likely to do each of the following:

recycle used materialsvisit an adult-only websiteview pornographic mediaget legally drunk

have sexual intercourse with someone to whom they are not married

Adults without a faith preference [“i.e., atheists and agnostics”] were the segment least likely to do each of the following behaviors:

volunteer at a church or non-profit organizationstop watching a television program because of its values or viewpointsfast for religious reasons

do at least 30 minutes of physical exercise in the past week

This segment has grown more quickly than any of the other five faith segments in the U.S. during the past decade.

I am not certain how or why recycling got mixed up with porn-unless they mean recycling porn.

Social / Societal / Political Issues:
Born Again Adults Remain Firm in Opposition to Abortion and Gay Marriage – July 23, 2001

abortion should be legal in all situations…40% of atheists.abortion should either be illegal in all instances or illegal in all but a few special circumstances…30% of atheists.44% of atheists…contend that a person is born into homosexuality.

The data clearly underscore the breadth of the gap in moral views between those associated with Christian churches and those associated with non-Christian faith groups or atheism.

How “Christianized” Do Americans Want Their Country To Be? – July 26, 2004

55% of atheists and agnostics said this was a good idea to eliminate the Ten Commandments from government buildings…37% of atheists and agnostics support the call to remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from the nation’s currency…40% of atheists and agnostics side with the proposal calling for “removing the phrase ‘one nation, under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance”…

35% of atheists and agnostics “were comfortable with the [‘F-word’] word being used on broadcast channels.”

Americans Just Want a Good Night of Sleep – October 16, 2006

Atheists and agnostics…were also the least likely to look forward to spending time with friends.

Americans Identify Their Most Important Relationships – March 17, 2008

Atheists and agnostics were most likely to rate their workplace as their top network

Survey Reveals the Life Christians Desire – July 21, 2008

Atheists and agnostics…stood out as…least likely to find living near family and relatives to be highly desirable (43%, compared to 63% national average).The religious skeptics were also much less likely to be driven to have a clear sense of purpose in life (55%, compared to 77% of all adults) or to want just one marriage partner for life (58% versus an 80% U.S. average).

They were also less interested in making a difference in the world (45%, versus 56% nationally) and in having close friendships…

American Individualism Shines Through in People’s Self-Image – July 23, 2007

The gap between born again adults and people of no faith (i.e., atheists and agnostics) was equally substantial. Not surprisingly, the born again contingent was much more likely to see themselves as servants of God, deeply spiritual, supportive of traditional family values, and concerned about American morality.However, the religious segment was also distinguished by a greater likelihood of being active in their community; believing that they are making a positive difference in the world; are less likely to be turned off by politics; have greater clarity about the meaning and purpose of their life; and are much less adaptable to cultural change.

According to George Barna, “…atheists, whose fundamental dismissal of social conventions and participation in favor of more self-centered views and behaviors…”

Atheism as Anti-Theism:
Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians – June 11, 2007

A new evangelistic movement has emerged in America. Yet this effort does not spring from those loyal to a particular faith or religious view. The new evangelists are atheists. People who have determined there is no God or who doubt his existence (a group commonly known as agnostics) are adopting a more aggressive, intentional effort to discredit the notion that God exists and to critique people of faith…

most atheists and agnostics (56%) agree with the idea that radical Christianity is just as threatening in America as is radical Islam…

five million adults unequivocally use the label “atheist” and, when asked to describe the nature of God, staunchly reject the existence of such a being…

One of the most significant differences between active-faith and no-faith Americans is the cultural disengagement and sense of independence exhibited by atheists and agnostics in many areas of life. 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%)…

one of the least favorable points of comparison for atheist and agnostic adults – is the paltry amount of money they donate to charitable causes. The typical no-faith American donated just $200 in 2006, which is more than seven times less than the amount contributed by the prototypical active-faith adult ($1500).

Even when church-based giving is subtracted from the equation, active-faith adults donated twice as many dollars last year as did atheists and agnostics. In fact, while just 7% of active-faith adults failed to contribute any personal funds in 2006, that compares with 22% among the no-faith adults…

atheists and agnostics were more likely than were Christians to be focused…on acquiring wealth (10% versus 2%)…One of the largest gaps was the perception of being “at peace,” a description less frequently embraced by no-faith adults (67% versus 90%)…

David Kinnaman, the president of The Barna Group, directed the study of the lifestyles and habits of no-faith adults in America, and pointed out some of the implications of the research. “…Proponents of secularism suggest that rejecting faith is a simple and intelligent response to what we know today. Yet, most of the Americans who overtly reject faith harbor doubts about whether they are correct in doing so. Many of the most ardent critics of Christianity claim that compassion and generosity do not hinge on faith; yet those who divorce themselves from spiritual commitment are significantly less likely to help others.

‘Ironically, however, both atheists and committed Christians share one unusual area of common ground: concern about superficial, inert forms of Christianity in America…

Let us papoose some studied studies as Vox Day considers various atheist claims and provides elucidation. These are taken from Vox Day’s book “The Irrational Atheist” (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc., 2008).

Religious Wars:
It may be of interest to note that the Encyclopedia of Wars (New York: Facts on File, 2005) was compiled by nine history professors who specifically conducted research for the text for a decade in order to chronicle 1,763 wars. The survey of wars covers a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years of war 123, which is 6.98 percent, are considered to have been religious wars – [gleaned from p. 103]


“there is a plethora of evidence that a comparison of all atheists to all Christians will not favor the former, whether one looks at crime rates, divorce rates, birth rates, democratic participation, or charitable giving.” [p. 182]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
“See chapters IV and XIII for evidence in support of this statement.”


“[Sam] Harris claims that religious prudery contributes daily to the surplus of human misery while bemoaning the existence of AIDS in Africa and other sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. But this widespread disease is the direct result of the sexual promiscuity that Christians condemn as immoral and which Harris praises as the pursuit of happiness. More to the point, scientific research shows that religious individuals are both happier and more sexually satisfied than non-religious individuals.” [p. 119-120]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
“‘This kind of pattern is typical-religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness.’ Nielsen, M. E. (2006) “Religion and Happiness.” Retrieved 20 May 2007 from”
“‘Previous research has produced mixed results. Davidson et al. (1995) reported that religious commitment (as measured by frequency of church attendance) did impact on ‘physiological’ sexual satisfaction, but not ‘psychological’ satisfaction. Davidson and Moore (1996) found no relationship between sexual satisfaction and religiosity among female undergraduates. . . . The three items related to religiosity, when considered together, did account for a small, but statistically significant amount of the variation in sexual satisfaction.’ M. Young, G. Denny, T. Young, and R. Luquis. ‘Sexual Satisfaction in Married Women,’ American Journal of Health Studies, 2000.”

“Sam Harris cannot be trusted with statistics…Sometimes such deception is easy to detect. While talking about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in The End of Faith, Harris cites a study showing that abstinence-pledged virgin teens were more likely to engage in oral and anal sex in an attempt to create the impression that those teens were more likely to contract an STD. What he neglected to mention was that while the study showed that 4.6 percent of the abstinence-pledged teens contracted an STD, this was 35 percent less than the 7 percent of non-pledged teens who also acquired one.” [p. 127]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
“Martin, Samuel, ‘A Two-Letter Word for Little Miss Pure: It Begins with N.’ The Times, 26 June, 2007″


“I previously referenced the number of atheists being held by the prison system of England and Wales, where it is customary to record the religion of the prison population as part of the Inmate Information System. In the year 2000, there were 38,531 Christians of twenty-one different varieties imprisoned for their crimes, compared to only 122 atheists and sixty-two agnostics. As Europe in general and the United Kingdom in particular have become increasingly post-Christian, this would appear to be a damning piece of evidence proving the fundamentally criminal nature of theists while demonstrating that atheists are indeed more moral despite their lack of a sky god holding them to account.” [p. 19]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
“There are some silly bits of information floating around the Internet claiming to prove that Christians are fifty times more likely to go to prison than atheists. Of course, by cherry-picking this data, one could claim that English and Welsh Christians are 315 times more likely to go to prison than atheists and be superficially correct. One would have to be an intellectually dishonest ass to do so, though.”

“However, there also happened to be another 20,639 prisoners, 31.6 percent of the total prison population, who possessed ‘no religion.’ And this was not simply a case of people falling through the cracks or refusing to provide an answer; the Inmate Information System is specific enough to distinguish between Druids, Scientologists, and Zoroastrians as well as between the Celestial Church of God, the Welsh Independent church, and the Non-Conformist church. It also features separate categories for ‘other Christian religion,’ ‘other non-Christian religion,’ and ‘not known.’ At only two-tenths of a percent of the prison population, High Church atheists are, as previously suggested, extremely law-abiding. But when one compares the 31.6 percent of imprisoned no-religionists to the 15.1 percent of Britons who checked ‘none’ or wrote in Jedi Knight, agnostic, atheist, or heathen in the 2001 national survey, it becomes clear that their Low Church counterparts are nearly four times more likely to be convicted and jailed for committing a crime than a Christian.” [p. 20]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
“3.84 times more likely, to be precise. Census, April 2001, Office for National Statistics. While Christians account for 39.1 percent of the English and Welsh prison population, they make up 71.8 percent of the total population.”

Life Expectancy:

“Studies have shown that those without religion have life expectancies seven years shorter than the average churchgoer,[*] are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, and be depressed or obese,[**] and they are much less likely to marry or have children. Their criminal proclivities strongly suggest that they are less intelligent on average than theists and High Church atheists alike, and they also outnumber their High Church counterparts by a significant margin, as the following table of various polls demonstrates:” [the table to which he refers are found on p. 20]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
* “‘Religious attendance is associated with U.S. adult mortality in a graded fashion: People who never attend exhibit 1.87 times the risk of death in the follow-up period compared with people who attend more than once a week. ‘ Hummer R., Rogers R., Nam C., Ellison C. G. ‘Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality:’ Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. 1999.”
** “Although it seems that Baptist women who read Left Behind novels but don’t go to church regularly are the most at risk for excess poundage. Krista M. C. Cline and Kenneth F. Ferraro, ‘Does Religion Increase the Prevalence and Incidence of Obesity in Adulthood?’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 2 (2006): 269″


“It has been established that Christians give three times more to Charity[*] and are less criminal than the broad spectrum of atheists; experiments at the Economic Science Laboratory suggest that this might be because they believe that their actions are known to God. In variations on an envelope experiment designed to test random charity on the part of a subject who was given ten dollars as well as the opportunity to share it anonymously, the knowledge that the experimenter was watching increased the subject’s likelihood of giving by 142 percent and the amount given by 146 percent.[**]” [p. 145]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
* “‘In 2000, religious people gave about three and a half times as much as secular people-$2,210 versus $642.‘ Ben Gose, ‘Charity’s Political Divide,’ The Chronicle of Philanthropy. 23 Nov. 2006″
** “Landsburg, Steven. ‘Stuffing Envelopes’: Reason, March 2001. The dollar difference increased from $1.08 to $2.66 if the subject thought the amount of his contribution would be known to the observer.”

Bright Family Values:

“Dennett further claims that ‘brights’ have better family values than born-again Christians based on ‘the lowest divorce rate in the United States’ which depends on the flawed 1999 Barna study instead of the 2001 ARIS study he makes use of later in the book, a much larger study that reaches precisely the opposite conclusion. It is certainly a quixotic assertion, considering that these family value atheists are half as likely to get married, twice as likely to divorce, and have fewer children than any other group in the United States. [p. 188]

Vox Day’s Footnotes:
“Barna calculated divorces as a percentage of the entire group, not as a percentage of marriages within that group. Since according to ARIS 2001 more than half of all atheists and agnostics don’t get married, this is an apple-orange comparison. If one correctly excludes the never-married from the calculation, then atheists are 58.7 percent more likely to get divorced than Pentecostals and Baptists, the two born-again Christian groups with the highest rate of divorce, and more than twice as likely to get divorced than Christians in general.”