CHARLESTON, S.C – Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.
The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.
And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.
“Is everyone in favor of sponsoring a picnic for humanists with families?” asked the board president, Jonathan Lamb, a 27-year-old meteorologist, eliciting a chorus of “ayes.”
More than ever, America’s atheists are linking up and speaking out — even here in South Carolina, home to Bob Jones University, blue laws and a legislature that last year unanimously approved a Christian license plate embossed with a cross, a stained glass window and the words “I Believe” (a move blocked by a judge and now headed for trial)…
Polls show that the ranks of atheists are growing. The American Religious Identification Survey, a major study released last month, found that those who claimed “no religion” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years.
Nationally, the “nones” in the population nearly doubled, to 15 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 1990. In South Carolina, they more than tripled, to 10 percent from 3 percent. Not all the “nones” are necessarily committed atheists or agnostics, but they make up a pool of potential supporters.
RTFA. Well done enough that I thought at first it came from the Guardian [sorry, NYT].
So – disclaimer: I was an atheist by age 13. Proper philosophical materialist by 18. Science hasn’t bumped into any information changing either of those conclusions in the ensuing years.