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Survey off-line as of 11:59PM 20 Jan 2013

Survey off-line as of 11:59PM 20 Jan 2013.

If there is anyone outside of the United States that would like to have the survey re-activated for research purposes please contact me.  Cross-national comparison data may be useful in some cases.

As of now we have 8,339 responses.

Beginning next week I will be posting results as will several collaborators.

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Pulling the plug

Since the survey went “live” on December 1, 2012 the response has been extraordinarily good.  To date there have been 8,207 people that responded to the survey representing over 65 nations and every state in the US.  In 2008 I worked with Brother Richard on a similar survey that was live for three months and generated almost exactly the same number of responses.

Although we have generated an enormous amount of data -thanks to everyone that participated!- I have continued to keep the survey live because there are feelers (email messages describing the survey and other back channel efforts) out to non-believer groups in India, the UK and the Middle East and elsewhere with the hope being that we might get a flurry of responses from this or that nation that, ultimately, the data from which could be of service both to the the organizers and leaders in those nations and to those who hope to bring progress to international cooperation among and between organizations.

So, here we are in mid-January with about 20-40 responses per day, and I am considering pulling the plug, i.e., deactivating the survey.  So, if you know anyone or any organizational leader/blogger, etc. that might see some utility in rallying some additional responses, especially outside of the United States, now is the time.

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A response from an atheist from an Islamic country

The comment below was made in response to my last post regarding the difficulty in reaching out to non-believers in the Middle East. I think it is easy for many of us in the United States to be ignorant of the everyday struggles faced by our counterparts around the world, especially in Islamic nations.  This person’s comment, I think, is in some senses a call to action for those of us who are fortunate to be able to freely express our views.  How can we more demonstratively act in solidarity?

I agree. I myself originated from an Islamic country (unable to disclose) and are currently in the UK seeking asylum because of my Atheism. People in Islamic countries does not have any support for them facing the daily lives and tyranny of being forced into believing something that they don’t want to believe. Majority of Muslims are in the delusional state that they are in a war between forces of ‘good and evil’ in which for them being a Muslim and Islam is a force of good.

Unfortunately, although I am from an Islamic country, it’s nowhere near the Middle East. It’s a country in which boasts itself as being ‘multicultural’ yet if you research on it, it has a lot history of breaking even the most fundamental of human rights – which explains why it is not part of the United Nation Covenant on Civil Political Right (because they believe it is an ‘evil’ western agenda to confuse the Muslim majority). And according to the country’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Human Rights DOES NOT apply to Muslims so they don’t have the right to chose their faith and apostasy is punished to either death or severe mental and physical torture at their Islamic Re-education Center until one repent and becomes a Muslim again.
Atheists like myself don’t want to run and seek asylum in another country, but with no one protecting us and the government (in which we contributed in tax payments wanted to prosecute us), what choices do we have?

Some thoughts on what these data might -or might not- mean

As of this morning there have been nearly 7500 respondents to the survey representing every state in the US and dozens of nations around the globe.  Canada, Australia and the UK are very well represented, fairly predictable since the survey is in English, but there are pockets of responses from Brazil, Germany and South Africa, among others.

But what, if anything, can be taken from these data?  Those that responded to the survey are demonstratively not a random sample of atheists world-wide, but rather very much a self-selected array of folks that most likely look somewhat different from the entire population of atheists.  But is a truly representative global sample of atheists possible?  I tend to think not, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I suspect that there are many, many atheists who are very closeted (even to themselves?) and that these individuals would never find the survey in the first place since visiting sites that might have a link to the survey (most prominently, Atheist Nexus) would be socially dangerous.  It is my position that exploratory data is better than none, though I am aware that some will disagree with this stance.

In the end, I feel that the narrative, qualitative data that is generated by the open-ended responses will be of the greatest value to those that are interested in moving forward issues of interest to atheists worldwide, especially in the United States.  The statistical, descriptive data will be interesting, to be sure, but I will be very mindful to stress that since the sample is not representative of the population of atheists any generalizations and/extrapolations must be critically examined.

As for the many “mini-polls” that accent this blog, everything above applies as well.

So, what are your thoughts?

1 Comment

Word cloud

What responses to stigmatization look like

Below is a “word cloud” of the last 25 responses to the survey question, “Please provide a recent example of a social situation where you experienced stigmatization because you are an atheist.”  So over 4000 people have done the survey and nearly 1200 responded to this open-ended question about personal stories related to stigma and atheism.




Where in the world is it most difficult to be an “out” atheist?”

What many of us knew already is finally making some news:  it is dangerous to be a non-believer in much of the world.  Below is the poll that I had on the main page for a few days; the results are interesting but not surprising.  Please add your comments about both the linked article and the poll.  How can atheist-oriented organizations help move us in a safer direction for all?


Who is responding so far? A call for international participation.

Who is responding to the survey so far?

Although about 80% of the respondents to the survey report being from the United States (top state so far: California), the remaining 20% are from 44 (and counting) different countries around the world including Malta (1), New Zealand (8), Nigeria (1), India (4), and Norway (3).  The top country thus far (excluding the US) is Canada (105).

Nations in the Middle East are totally absent to this point, and, as with many nations, the fact that the survey only exists in English remains an issue.  I am open to any suggestions as to how to reach out more effectively.

If any of the leadership of atheist organizations around the world would like access to the data specific to their nation I will be happy to accommodate, but to make the data meaningful we will need many more respondents. Blog, Tweet, Facebook, etc. the link to the survey to people in your nation and let’s work together to better understand the world of atheists.

Here is the url for the survey:



Poll concerning tax-exempt status of churches in the US


Perhaps the time has come for a call to reexamine the tax-emempt status of the church in the US.

And indeed there is legal action in this directions!


Survey made public on December 1, 2012

The survey “Better understanding the world of atheists” was made public on December 1, 2012

This survey is a collaborative effort spearheaded by Richard “Brother Richard” Haynes of Atheist Nexus International.  Summary results of this survey will be presented at a meeting of the leadership of both national and regional atheist-related organizations taking place late this coming January in Atlanta, Georgia.

This web site will be used to provide updates regarding the survey and as a space for presenting some of the results.

You are welcome to add your comments and tweets to each post.  Add comments by simply clicking on the “post a comment” link at the end of each post.  Tweet your comments by using #servingatheists.

Both your comments and tweets will be public on this web site.



Sample Page

This is an example page. It’s different from a blog post because it will stay in one place and will show up in your site navigation (in most themes). Most people start with an About page that introduces them to potential site visitors. It might say something like this:

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…or something like this:

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As a new WordPress user, you should go to your dashboard to delete this page and create new pages for your content. Have fun!

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