Survey reveals only .02% of prisoners identify as atheists

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons released an April 2013 survey of 218,167 prisoners that reports .02% of prisoners are atheists.

You read that right. Not 2%, or even .2 percent, but .02% of American prisoners are atheists.

Hemant Mehta first reported the statistic on his popular blog, The Friendly Atheist. Check out his blog post on the new statistic here. Mehta wanted to corroborate the often quoted, but now dated, statistic that .7% of prisoners are atheists.

His open records request to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons proves that an even smaller percentage of American prisoners, .02%, identify as atheists. Because 2.4% of the general population of Americans are “atheists,” according to a 2012 Pew study, atheists make up a disproportionately small percentage of prisoners. The Pew study, however, found that one in five adults identifies as “nonreligious.”

This goes a long way to debunk the myth that a person can’t be good without a god.

“Atheists have their own moral compass that doesn’t involve a holy book,” Mehta wrote.

Another reason for the low representation of atheists in prison is that atheists tend to be well educated and have higher than average socio-economic status. Prisoners tend to be less educated and poorer than the average American. This points out a flaw in American society, not in atheists’ morality.

Holy books condemn and vilify atheists as terrible people, but 99.98% of U.S. federal prisoners committing crimes and going to prison are not atheists.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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