Protecting the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church
Freethought Radio

Freethought Today

Vol. 20 No. 1 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
January/February 2003

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Infidel Info

"We're No. 1--in La Crosse." The Freedom From Religion Foundation's continuing lawsuit over a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in La Crosse, Wis., was rated the top local story of the year by the La Crosse Tribune (Dec. 29, 2002)

"Jewish atheists" abound. About 20% of American Jews, or 1.1 million out of 5.5 million, say they have no religion. Jews make up about 2% of the U.S. population. Source: Twin Cities Jewish Life Nov. 2002 (American Jewish Yearbook 1998)

Least church-friendly states. A Roman Catholic survey shows that Oregon (with 31.3% claimed churchgoers), Washington (33%), Nevada (34.3%) and Alaska (34.3%) were the least "church friendly states" in the nation. Utah ranked highest at 74.7%. Nevada ranked last in ratio of churches to population (5 per 10,000 people). Source: AP, Sept. 19, 21, 2002 ("Religious Congregations & Membership: 2000; Glenmary Research Center)

Bedside bible brush-off. Bibles placed in hotel rooms by the Gideons topped the list of least useful items found in hotel rooms, in a survey of British businesspersons by Expedia, a website travel company. Source: Ananova.com, Nov. 8, 2002

Teen heathens. A survey of 542 13-year-old schoolchildren in Exeter, U.K., found that 21% had no religion, and 1 in 12 thought Jesus was a fictional character. Source: National Secular Society, January 2003

You go, Marin County! Only 35% of Marin County, Calif., residents, lower than the national figure of 60%, report going to church at least once a month. Study authors warned that people tend to overreport church attendance. Lack of interest, dislike of organized religion and no time were cited; 15% boasted no religious preference. Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 2, 2002; AP, Nov. 4 ("Religious & Spiritual Change in America: the Experience of Marin County" by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research)

Canada's "Extraordinary Shift." The number of people claiming no religion more than doubled in 13 years to 27% in 2000, "an extraordinary shift," according to social scientist Paul Reed, with Statistics Canada. British Columbia led the country with 55% of residents claiming to be nonbelievers. Source: Canadian Press, Oct. 9, 2002

Danes disdain dogma. In a survey of 32 countries' attitude toward religion, Denmark rated religion most negatively. "Danes have a deep-rooted animosity towards religions that take themselves too seriously, especially Islam. . . we don't want religion becoming a matter of public debate," said author of the report, Prof. Jorgen Goul Andersen, of Aalborg University. Source: Berlingske Tidende, Oct. 2002

O (Secular) Canada. Canadian secularism is credited in part for Canada's record low birth rate (1.49 compared to the U.S. rate of 2.1). Religiosity is tied to higher birth rates, and 18% of Canadian women "practice their religion on a weekly basis" compared to a claimed 34% rate for American women of child-bearing age. Source: [Toronto] Globe & Mail, Sept. 30, 2002 (Study by Alain Belanger & Genevieve Ouellet of Statistics Canada)

Segregated Salt Lake. Salt Lake City ranks 98th in most-segregated among the largest 100 metro areas. Utah's U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett consistently score an "F" on NAACP civil rights ratings. Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2002 (Study, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Evangelicals low on totem pole. An approval-rating poll of nonChristians about various professions placed evangelicals in tenth place, beating out only prostitutes. Less than half had a favorable opinion of ministers. Source: Barna Research Online, Dec. 3, 2002

Big-spending bishops. Long Island bishop William Murphy spent about $1 million turning a former convent into a new home; disgraced former Archbishop Rembert Weakland spent nearly $4.5 million remodeling a cathedral last year over lay protest; Bishop Matthew Clark plans a $4 million remodeling of Rochester's cathedral; Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles spent $200 million on the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels; Bishop John Cummins of Oakland is building a multi-million dollar cathedral, and similar cathedral projects were initiated in recent years in Covington, Ky., San Antonio, Texas, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Seattle. Source: Michael S. Rose, Newsday, Jan. 12, 2003

Hispanic infidels increase. The percentage of U.S. Hispanics calling themselves Catholics dropped from 66% in 1990 to 57% in 2001, while the percentage citing no religion more than doubled from 6% to 13% during the same time. Source: USA Today, Dec. 12, 2002 (American Religious Identification Survey 2001, Graduate Center for the CUNY)


January/February 2003 Excerpts