What The Polls Say (Jan/Feb 1998)

Almost Half Of Russians Atheists

Forty-six percent of Russians describe themselves as nonbelievers, according to a new poll by the Russian Center for Public Opinion Research. Twenty-six percent said they have never believed in a god.
Despite aggressive evangelizing, there are more Russian atheists than Orthodox Christians, at 45%. The poll of 2,400 people had a margin of error of two percentage points.

The Chicago Tribune, in a January 7 story, quoted Jewish immigrant Rosalie Boriovskaya saying of Jewish Russians, “Most of us are atheists.”

Other Side Of Poll

A poll commissioned by the Pew Research Center made front-page headlines in December by claiming increased religiosity of Americans. Pew’s vague study said 71% of respondents say “they never doubt the existence of God,” up from the center’s 1987 figure of 60%.
However, examined from the other side, this poll shows that nearly a third of Americans have doubted the existence of God, nearly 40% do not believe miracles come from a god, and 47% do not consider prayer important to daily life.

Can’t Beat New Yorkers!

“The Narcissus Survey,” billed as a “fearless inquiry into whatever” by the New Yorker magazine (Jan. 5, 1998), reported that a random sampling of 400 of its subscribers were split 50-50 between religious and nonreligious people.
“Only” 61% of the New Yorker subscribers say they believe in God, while 21% say they don’t.

Showing how rarefied is the New Yorker’s reading audience were results from a comparison poll, also commissioned by the magazine. Polled were 600 members of the “economic elite,” defined as college graduates aged 30-60 whose personal (not family) income is more than $100,000 a year. Ninety percent of this group, dubbed “Easy Street,” indicated a belief in a god.

Ninety-two percent of an additional grouping of 400 randomly selected adult “warm bodies,” identified as “Main Street,” said they believe in God, and only 3% said they didn’t.

More than 70 percent of “Easy Street” and “Main Street” respondents answered yes to the question “Do you consider yourself a religious person?” compared to only about 50% of New Yorker subscribers.

The polls were conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland.

Ministers: Take The Hint!

The polling agency of well-known “born-again” Episcopalian George Gallup released results last December of a telephone survey of 1,212 Americans about their beliefs on death and dying.
Two-thirds indicated they would be uncomfortable if visited by a minister when they were dying, but the same number would find comfort in the presence of a caring physician. Gallup, suggesting this meant “seminaries could do a lot more” in training clergy, missed the obvious message that most Americans dislike clergy visits when they are sick, dying or hospitalized.

Vouchers Pandered To Minorities

Two national polls in 1997 show that more black Americans favor vouchers than whites. A summer Gallup poll for Phi Delta Kappa showed 72% of black respondents favored vouchers–granting public funds for private, usually religious, schools, at the expense of funding public schools. The general population was split evenly on the issue, with 48% for and 48% against vouchers.
A second survey, for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, showed 65% of Hispanic respondents, 56% of blacks and 47% of whites favored vouchers.

Christian right groups have been exploiting the interest of minorities in improving educational opportunity, painting parochial aid as the only way to aid disadvantaged children. Religious groups such as the Christian Coalition openly favor a raid on public coffers to subsidize all religious schooling.

In Denver, almost 3,500 blacks and Hispanics, largely recruited through churches, have signed onto a new class-action suit seeking to force taxpayers to finance primary and secondary school education for their children at religious schools.

However, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People strongly opposes vouchers, and is active in fighting a religious voucher program that has been enjoined in Milwaukee. Older, middle-class African Americans tend to oppose vouchers.

Freedom From Religion Foundation