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Where do these numbers come from?

I continually read things like 86% of American's are Christian or 75% of American's claim to be Christian or 15% of Americans claim to be Atheist or Agnostic...

However, according to Public Law 94-521, our Government is prohibited from asking for Religious Affiliation on Census (and similar) questionnaires. Because of this the numbers for religious affiliation gathered by our government are done by contacting the religious organizations themselves... Are we to simply assume that the religious organizations never inflate their numbers, or that they even know them? And smaller non-governmental or non-official polls can only reflect those being polled, not the general population...

So where do these estimations on religious affiliation come from? And why are people so quick to buy in to them knowing they aren't actually gathered by asking the population?

Answer Question
 
SabrinaMBowen

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 10:19 PM on Oct. 11, 2010 in Religious Debate

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (32)
  • I'm not really sure it matters. Think about it, what kind of Christian are you? I'm the type that believes it's ok to drink, have sex before you're married and I believe Gays should be allowed to marry. You may not think I'm a Christian, but I do. So how does that effect your poll? Of the 15% who aren't Christian most of them probably think most of us are idiots, by that rationale 85% of Americans are brainless.

    Christian is what we put on the form when we check into the hospital - maybe that's where they're getting the poll. Maybe its a Nelson rating.
    Works4Mom.com

    Answer by Works4Mom.com at 10:39 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • Well, I'm not Christian... But I find it amazing how these polls continually state Christians make up between 75% & 85% of the American Population and Athiests make up the other 15%... Yet, we clearly have a Muslim population, Jewish population, Pagan Population and so on... So where do they fall in? I find it amazingly impossible that all these groups make up less than 1% of the population when we have MILLIONS of Pagans attending Pagan Pride Day Celebrations every year, and MILLIONS more who practice Judaism and Islam, and then there are even more who fall in to categories like Buddhist, Hindu and whatever else...

    I read one estimation that placed the numbers at closer to 40% for Christians, which still gave them the polarity, but not a majority... Honestly, I see that to be more accurate, but still would like to know who gathers these numbers.
    SabrinaMBowen

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 10:55 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • I have no idea, but really 40% or 85% how does it make a difference? Most Christian I know would call me an Atheist.
    Plus, it's not like a label really dictates how people live. I didn't "wait" until marriage - does that drop me from one group and put me into another? Obviously I'm not going to vote my religion I barely qualify as my religion! Your religion is nothing more than a label you put on yourself.

    If we could all drop that "what I am" and get to a point of "let's be friends" we'd be a lot better off.
    Works4Mom.com

    Answer by Works4Mom.com at 11:06 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • sabrina, they count them to boost their numbers, then refute them as members when their unsavory behavior is pointed out.
    autodidact

    Answer by autodidact at 11:13 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • The only reason it matters is because these numbers are used to validate beliefs - like a majority rules kind of attitude. I don't doubt that I'm in the minority, but if you're (a general you, not YOU) are going to use these numbers to back up your statements or beliefs, or invalidate mine, it would be nice to know where they actually come from... And how inflated they are...
    SabrinaMBowen

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 11:15 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • Your believes can only be invalidated by you (and I don't mean the general you I mean YOU!)
    I would love to know more about this argument and go cut that Christian down to size for you.
    Christians are a sorry sort, they will spend tens of thousands of dollars to deny people rights, while allowing millions to go hungry all in the name of Christ. Obviously the word Savior means little to most of my kind.
    If a Christian uses that kind of % to validate their beliefs - then what do they really believe in? What are they really saying?
    "I'm a Christian because the majority of our population is Christian?" That's not a belief, that's high school.
    Works4Mom.com

    Answer by Works4Mom.com at 11:31 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • I've heard Christians make up about 67% of the population, and Atheist Agnostic around 4% with the rest being a mix of all others. Like you, I have seen many polls from different sources and wondered if they just gather up church bulletins and count that way? :)
    jewjewbee

    Answer by jewjewbee at 11:33 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • Your believes can only be invalidated by you...

    Not true at all! My beliefs are generally invalid to anyone who doesn't hold them. And for many, these numbers are a large portion of WHY they are considered invalid. To me, ALL beliefs are valid, even if they aren't mine... All that matters is that they are valid to the believer.

    Anyways, I was asking more or less to find out if there was a valid source to these numbers or if they were simply random guesses by those who use them or if they were being pushed by some group... The only stats I have ever found which were done by non-religious groups place the numbers at MUCH lower than the numbers I keep hearing quoted... Which is why I would love to know where people keep finding these numbers... Not so much because I want them to or not to be true, or because I would believe them one way or another... More just out of curiosity than anything...
    SabrinaMBowen

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 11:37 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • According to ABC News a few months back Atheists and Agnostics make up 15% of the population, but again, I have no idea where these numbers come from... Is it just a guess? Are they polling 100 or 100K people? Or something else?
    SabrinaMBowen

    Comment by SabrinaMBowen (original poster) at 11:41 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

  • Probably just the people in their office! lol
    Works4Mom.com

    Answer by Works4Mom.com at 11:56 PM on Oct. 11, 2010

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