On Theory….Tony Style

22/07/2015

Theory is a bitch.  A little bit of theory goes a long way, as Reinhard Bendix aptly put it. I used to be more enamored with theoretical advance and synthesis than I now am. Theory, however is essential…but sometimes setting the controls for the heart of the sun only burns you out…..

As my old mentor Tony Oberschall put it in 1973(ix): “A theory in the usual sense is made up of hypotheses that can be empirically confirmed or disconfirmed, that are systematically linked in order to provide explanations for a large body of observations bearing on the same topic and that can be used to predict future events. Single hypotheses that repeatedly have been confirmed are best thought of as empirical generalizations. Conceptual schemes, typological elaborations, semantic analyses of concepts and terminological controversies cannot be empirically verified and are not theories, rather they are approaches to a topic preparatory to the formulation of a theory. Sociology has reached the stage where these preparatory activities no longer hold center stage, as they have for so long.”

I have an empirical generalization about who would like this statement and who would object, and a theory about the disciplinary implications of rejecting positive theory versus wallowing in the muck of constant recreation…..

Yes, Sara Goldrick-Rab is Irresponsible and Unprofessional–and it’s none of the UW Faculty Senate’s Business….

19/07/2015
You should have gone to Penn!

You should have gone to Penn!

In our ongoing saga of academics being called out about twats on the internets we have Sara Goldrick-Rab as the latest victim. Of course, unlike the poor person fired at LSU for doing her job using adult language, I find a few of Goldrick-Rab’s actions to be truly irresponsible and unprofessional, particularly given that she styles herself an expert on educational policy. I’ve never met her, but having perused her vita I really think she should feel exceptionally lucky to be a full professor (promoted after only 9 years with a PhD based on a handful of articles in mostly minor journals and a coauthored book–with Jerry Jacobs….who is known for being quite generous to his students) at what is still the best public university in the nation.

I don’t give a fuck about calling Scott Walker Hitler or any other pithy political statement, party on.  But I hear tell that she implored a bunch of ecstatic future Wisconsin Badgers to  go to school somewhere else. Because, of course, since now Wisconsin may actually see the kind of cuts the rest of the nation has been dealing with since 2000, 17 year olds and prospective faculty should look to go elsewhere. Jesus fuck a bunny in the ass! Do you really study educational policy?! Are you really an expert on helping the disadvantaged get degrees? Do you really think a cut in the most well-funded university system in the nation means that it is irrational for young Wisconsinites to go to Madison? Versus what? You think they can go to Penn? Northwestern? Chicago? Do you think it’s any better to take advantage of the tuition break to go to Illinois. Illinois  has a higher tuition….but gives Wisconsinites in-state tuition, but ILL is suffering the exact same cut imposed by Walker, and let’s face it, U of I sucks compared to Wisconsin.

Acting like the sky has already fallen because Wisconsin is about to get the kind of cuts most of the rest of us having been dealing with for over a decade is conduct unbecoming a serious researcher in the field of educational sociology or educational policy. For those of us struggling at truly disadvantaged universities, it’s downright insulting–particularly coming from someone who never attended a public university. I agree with Rebecca Blank (who is really nice, my spouse used to sometimes run with her at the AEA meetings). Wisconsin is still a great university and the people of Wisconsin should feel lucky to have it in their backyard. They should work to protect it, not to undermine it because of political hysteria. As for Goldrick-Rab, I’d be very surprised if “better” universities will be beating down her door to steal her away. Indeed, given the sorry state of public universities across the country, the only people poaching superstars from Wisconsin and elsewhere are going to be elite private universities, and most of the attrition has already taken place (which is why Duke is now number 1 in sociology).

Notably, it is Blank’s job to respond to shit like that in an informal way, the way she did. It is NOT the job of the muckity mucks in the Faculty Senate to act like official assholes and call her out. This isn’t about sanctions. This is about responding to a public issue. That’s the job of administrators (and gods know we have plenty of them…..), not of quasi-judicial bodies and other assorted kangaroo courts….

Unrelated events, related constituencies, and right wing mobilization: Same-Sex Marriage and the Confederate Flag

08/07/2015

320px-Confederate_LGBT_Flag.svg

Well, well, well….The evil satanic sharia court has now held through a very slim majority that every American must be gay married, and that all churches must forcibly gay marry all of their parishioners underneath an upside down cross while swearing on a Koran. Ah, the celebration from Satanists, Sodomites, and Satanist Sodomites as Barak Hussain Obama’s dream of turning us from a nation of Jesus to a nation of Satan has now come to its full fruition. Praise Allah! What with gay marriage, we are practically a part of the Islamic State!

To add insult to injury and insult, the sodomite satanist race-mixers have cancelled the Dukes of Hazzard, in an attempt to break the spiritual will of good white Christians who yearn, desperately, not to be gay married, despite the siren song sung by the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her gay backup that Kennedy guy. In an unrelated event, an avowed Christian Terrorist who was an adherent of several organized white supremacist movements murdered (or accidentally killed?) 9 African Americans in a church. The response to this has been interesting! And of course, the Confederate Christians have resumed burning African American Churches, because, duh!Given that most white people aren’t Confederate racists (just regular racists, you know….), the image of the Christian terrorist guy with Confederate Battle flags prompted elite whites to say, “Hey, Bubba, get rid of that, you’re embarrassing me!” Because, of course, if we just got rid of the bubbas with Confederate Flags, racism would be completely over.

But, Jesus Fuck, shitcanning the Dukes of Hazzard is just going too far! What are white racist rednecks going to do?! They have the whole series on VHS, fortunately. And, NASCAR thought they could ban the flag (you know, the main flag that flies over NASCAR races…and it ain’t the American flag….). And, of course, the evil Muslim usurper Obama joined in with whatever that Governor Hayley woman is (Sikh…she’s a Sikh….) to call for the removal of the flag of white Christian Southern Patriotism, and even to demand that the flag be painted over on the top of the General Lee. I like President Carter’s take on the state of the South and the Confederacy.

Gays get to marry, and white Christian patriots have to hide their flag, under penalty of being fired from their good, whites-only, government socialist jobs. Jesus must be coming soon, but in case he isn’t, the faithful have vowed to refuse to serve people who are an abomination to their gods. Why should good Christians be forced to serve homosexuals and Negroes against the dictates of their severely held beliefs? Why, it’s a violation of the First Amendment, whatever that is! Religious freedom demands that we allow people to offend and discriminate! Rebel Yell Anyone!

Lest anyone think that any of this is going away soon, let us come to the realization that white Christians in the Union are now adopting the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of their oppression, because we know that White Christians are the most oppressed group in all of America. And, this gay marriage thing makes all of the American government illegitimate, in a white Christian Patriot kind of way.

So, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, and the majority opinion of their fellow Americans, must be opposed by white Christian patriots. But, let’s not marginalize this group….because this is the large and pissed off base of a heavily armed and potentially violent movement. The Confederate angle is particularly shocking, since we have people defending a symbol embraced by a lethally successful terrorist, and let’s not forget the legions of other Christian terrorists terrorizing real America. Large pluralities of sectarian Protestants, fundamentalist Christians, and Republicans not only remain opposed to same sex marriage, but report that they are “very opposed” to what just took place.

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2014 General Social Survey

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2014 General Social Survey

The festering of religious and racist hatred should not be undersold. Most fundamentalists and sectarians are disconnected from other Americans and only associate with coreligionists, and their consolidation of social ties is made easier and more pure by geographic concentrations, both regionally and in rural, suburban, and exurban enclaves–Like Dalton Georgia, where an impromptu (and police supported) reactionary Confederate Flag parade had a little oopsie. Most people in those communities, the vast majority, are opposed to same sex marriage, and you can bet the General Lee that they don’t like black people or Messicans or Arabs or none of them other unamericans…..

Tenured LSU Professor Fired for Cursing

28/06/2015
Fired for saying fuck, and shit.

Fired for saying fuck, and shit.

I hate to be the buzzkill after all of the celebrations of marriage equality and people being able to keep their insurance, but the war on education just got hot and heavy, and the anti-intellectual corporatists are winning big. Down in Bubba Jindal’s Louisiana, a tenured associate professor who has worked at LSU for 20 years has been fired for allegedly cursing and supposedly saying something about a student’s adhd.  So far, there is minimal information about this case. Inside Higher Ed has said nothing, and only a short take at the Chronicle spells out the future for the rest of us.

Teresa Buchanan, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction was in charge of assigning legions of mostly female students to schools for student teaching. A multiple award winning professor who was recommended for promotion to Full before this “complaint”,  Dr. Buchanan is not one to mince words, indeed the Chronicle describes her as “salty” as if that is funny. They are reporting on the most devastating case since Salaita, and they’re joking about a tenured professor being fired for profanity. Buchanan admits that she was in the middle of a divorce and may have said some things about men that the young sorority girls didn’t like. And, she allegedly implored them to make sure they used condoms so they didn’t ruin their lives. Given that most of them had abstinence education in Louisiana, I’m not so sure this is out of line at all. Curriculum and Instruction is a professional program, and you’ll hurt your professional development with an unwanted pregnancy. Allegations that she had said something about a student having ADHD were found to be unsubstantiated by the faculty panel, which unanimously rejected a ruling of termination put forward by the loser ass second generation corporatist president of LSU, FuKing Alexander.

So, a tenured heterosexual female professor supposedly “sexually harassed” students by, what, saying fuck a lot? Telling them not to get pregnant once in a while? Is that harassment? Was she calling all of them every night to ask if they had condoms in their purse? NO. She said something once. And, she maybe whined about her divorce–as people often do. And for this, she was fired from a tenured job at a supposed research university.

There is a much better article in the Advocate about this. Basically, the faculty committee criticized the vague sexual harassment policy, and the chair of the LSU Faculty senate said that Buchanan’s cursing could not in any way be construed as  sexual harassment. They also pointed out that any complaint against Buchanan (no student testified….) should have simply been handled at the department chair level ‘ Hey Teresa, knock off the dick jokes, you’re scaring the children…”  That the Chronicle makes a joke of it and Inside Higher Ed didn’t even bother to cover it reflects their ownership by corporate education, who are just fine with having Human Resource Deanlets policing the faculty.

This is our future. Boards of assholes appointed by politicians flanked by corporatist administrators and legions of deanlings and deanlets will be monitoring what we say and firing us for saying fuck.  Nobody will say anything about it. The “academic press” will ignore it. Every week this will happen with greater frequency, until we all accept that we cannot usurp the authority of our corporate overlords. We’ll have speech codes, conduct codes, dress codes, and content codes for our courses—syllabi and textbooks will be provided by Pearsons and Wiley and Elsevier…….Deviation will not be tolerated, it’s in the code.

How We Lost the War on Tenure

18/06/2015
I feel the Pulse of the Populace, I can feel it!

What do you mean it’s not real? It feels real!

Obviously, I’m a bit pessimistic about the future of higher education outside of the gated communities of elite private and elite privatized/public universities. But, why can’t we win? Why do I think we’ve lost? Won’t there be a pushback? My pessimism is rooted in the complete domination of the educational field by corporatist elites, the extension of this mentality to the vast majority of political leaders in both parties, and the acceptance of the corporate narrative by the vast majority of college-educated (and virtually everyone who doesn’t have an education).

I don’t hang out with academics much. I have a few academic friends, but most of my friends are regular people—lawyers, doctors, finance people, small business owners. Most of my friends share my passion for racing and riding bikes, and I race for a large, strong, Midwestern team with lots of older racers like myself. Many of my teammates are from Wisconsin and are Scott Walker supporters—one is a major donor. I try not to let politics intrude on my cycling friendships, but I have to say I am the last liberal on my team—and politics played a role in many people leaving the team. I meet a lot of people in the community through bike racing and training, and not just racers, regular folk who are outside and visiting So Ill. In the last two years I have had at least ten people, friends, teammates, acquaintances, and strangers gently or not so gently discuss the issue of tenure with me. My teammates all know that I’m a professor, so that may be natural. Others come to know what I do, and then raise the issue. This never happened 10 years go or even 5 years ago. Most people don’t know what tenure is, but they are absolutely certain that it is bad, and that I’m a bad and lazy person for having it or wanting it.

One of my Scott Walker supporting teammates (who is an extremely nice guy and has a college degree) asked me a few months ago if I have tenure. He’s known me for 14 years, so, obviously he doesn’t know much about tenure. He wanted to know what I do, and how long I work–which he identified with how many courses do I teach, and how many hours am I in the classroom? Well, six hours a week in the hole, right? Geez, I guess my lazy tenured ass needs to be in the classroom for at least 36 hours, so I should be teaching 12 and 12 instead of 2 and 2! I briefly tried to explain that even teaching requires much more effort than the simple classroom time—course prep, grading, meeting with students, staying current on materials, dealing with administrative bullshit….And, the more sophisticated the course, the more time it takes. I don’t do multiple guess tests unless I’m teaching large section courses, which I don’t often do. And, I mentioned that the main reason why I’m employed is research, not teaching. He did seem marginally impressed that I published two books last year, but I think he wanted to know if I was going to publish another one this year. And, it is pointless to begin to describe the myriad activities that take up most of my time (reviewing 6-8 articles a month, writing letters for promotion files, letters of recommendation, data coding, analyses, writing, faculty meetings, grad student defenses….). The average person doesn’t understand any of that.

My good friend Michael Humphries (a religious studies/english professor) and I had a much more negative interaction with a group of uneducated tourists. They really didn’t think much of teachers or professors, and thought they made a shit ton of money for doing nothing and spent summers on vacation. What those damned lazy liberals need is to be fired if anyone complains about something they don’t like. We finally lost it and told them that what they were saying was offensive and wrong. Do you really think people don’t try to do a good job? Do you think we’re that unprofessional? Seriously. In my 30 years in higher education I have only seen one case where a professor needed to be removed from the classroom. I have rarely had colleagues who were “dead wood” in research after tenure, and all of the “dead wood” did yeoman’s work in teaching and administration.  Even colleagues who did not make tenure because of research deficiencies  deserved employment (and again, the bar has been raised way too high since the good old days of the 1960s and 70s when a heartbeat and a PHD got you tenure).

It isn’t just Scott Walker, and the message that Raygun birthed in the 1960s has now come to dominate public discourse. College is about teaching. teaching is about satisfying the children and making sure they get jobs. If it doesn’t lead directly to a job, then it is useless and should be done away with. The barrier to making college lead to jobs is the recalcitrance of the tenured faculty, so if we get rid of tenure, we can reinvent college as a vocational school. Research? What’s that? Why do you need to do research? Humanities faculty sit around all summer reading books? How is that helpful for getting jobs for the proletariat? You study sociology? Why do we need people doing research on that? Indeed, why should anyone have to take that shit when it won’t get them a job. I’m telling you with absolute certainty that this is the dominant opinion in the United States, even among supposedly educated liberals. We’re fucked.

The War on Tenure

14/06/2015
Once they get tenure, they do nothing....

Once they get tenure, they do nothing….

Twenty years ago I was awarded tenure at Vanderbilt University. The senior faculty put me up two years early because they didn’t want me to come up at the same time as Holly McCammon. Tenure meant nothing to me. I expected it. I deserved it. Having tenure changed nothing about my work habits, how much research I did, how I taught my courses, or treated my students.  But I don’t think about tenure the same way anymore, or, I guess I should say tenure means more to me now than it did in the rarefied air at an elite private university.

Like all bad things, the War on Tenure began with Ronny Raygun. The general war on education forever changed public universities. Cuts to direct funding, student aid, the development of a “student loan” racket, and the decline of publicly funded research squeezed the entire sector. Competition for scarce jobs led to a dramatic escalation of requirements for tenure—I know several people who were actually hired in as tenured professors straight out of grad school. One publication would suffice for tenure at any low-tier research university such as my current humble institution, and there was no research expectation at colleges requiring 3 or 4 course teaching loads. Now,  I’ve lost a lot of sleep worrying about junior colleagues coming up with six or eight publications—and even non-research institutions are now expecting to see publications and regular conference presentations (even though less and less money is available for conference travel).

The growth of obnoxious administration led to an increasingly intrusive culture of “accountability” whereby it is assumed that professors in general, and especially tenured professors, must not be doing their jobs. Student evaluations became increasingly important, even though real research shows that they are bogus. Professors were not only supposed to do more research, but also to be more available to students as advisors and to increasingly prioritize teaching and pleasing the children . Now we have assessment administrators asking us to prove that our students learned anything, as if our grades are meaningless.

Tenure became more directly relevant to me when my spouse did not make tenure at Vanderbilt. We spent a year on the job market searching for places that would hire us both. But, the new trend in administration was to make it nearly impossible to hire someone with tenure. I mean, what if you wind up being a psychopath, or if your research record doesn’t mesh with your classroom teaching? SIU didn’t want to hire me with tenure even though I’d had tenure at Vanderbilt for 6 years. In the end, after Herculean effort from my eventual chair Rob Benford the Dean and Provost relented and we moved to SIU.

But, now, we have a new war on tenure and the professors are losing. Post-tenure review has become commonplace at many institutions, even though most are “toothless” policies. Now, ALEC inspired laws are flooding state legislatures going for the jugular—ending tenure entirely. Giving administrators and boards the power to fire tenured professors at their whimsy. As the Salaita case showed very clearly, wealthy donors and political interest groups can now influence who is hired and who is fired—to the extent that you don’t even know if you have a valid contract. Our speech utterances are being monitored and punished for infractions of civility or content. Administrators are sitting in on our classes and judging what they think to be controversial materials to be a fire-able offense. Soon, we will see conduct codes that will further enable administrators and boards to fire us at will.

I’m 49 years old, and I expect that by the time I am 60 I will no longer have tenure. I may not even have a job. I’ll be forced into early retirement. I’m lucky. If I was 29, I’d be fucked. The AAUP just slammed the University of Illinois over their abridgement of academic freedom, tenure norms, due process, shared governance, and failure to rectify their wrong in the Salaita case. I just joined.

On Church and Sect in the 21st Century

03/06/2015

sectmaintrend

Sectarian religious groups claim to have exclusive access to supernatural rewards and compensators, while more “churchlike” groups are more universalistic in their approach to divine rewards and generally abhor the notion of punishments coming from their gods. It has long been fashionable to assume that religious exclusivism was a plus for religious groups, and it was wrongly associated with shifting religious allegiances favoring sectarian groups. In reality, what little growth sectarian groups saw in the late 20th century was a function of high birth rates. The more universalistic mainline Protestant churches “lost” because they had fewer kids after the immediate post-war baby boom.

The notion of mainline Protestant collapse has become so entrenched that even liberal protestant clergy miss the demographic point, and seem not to understand how to respond to their fundamentalist brethren touting the superiority of exclusivism as a solution to empty pews. The fact is, white mainline protestants command almost exactly the same share of the religious market as white sectarian Protestants. You wanna talk market share? Look at that! Mainliners need to suck it up and stop acting like they’re whupped by these mouthbreathing morons.

Notably, not only does Pewk mislead the public about mainline “collapse” and sectarian growth, they also claim that Catholicism is on the wane, which it is not. Further, the growth of the “nones” isn’t just a white thing, it’s spurred even more by increasing Latino defection, and also higher proportions of Asians, who are disproportionately irreligious, as I show in Changing Faith.

Are Latinos Abandoning Catholicism, or is that Pewk?

28/05/2015
2006-2014 GSS

2006-2014 GSS

A recent article in Salon reported some startling/unbelievable estimates from the latest Pewk study, first a claim that Catholicism appears to be in decline, and second linking this to a supposedly sharp decline in Latino Catholicism–along with the claim that more Latinos are joining sectarian Protestant denominations. Most alarming was the claims that the Pewk Study finds fewer than half of Latinos identify as Catholic. The author writes “The Pew survey found the percentage of Hispanics calling themselves Catholic dropped below 50 percent for the first time, from 58 percent in 2007 to 48 percent today. And while nearly 20 percent of Hispanics now identify as Evangelicals, that’s only up three points since 2007.” Wow. Really? That’s not what I found in Changing Faith, and so I updated our best estimates to the 2014 GSS to see how it compares to the Pewk study.

Interestingly, the Pewk data dramatically underestimate the proportion of Latinos who are Catholic in both time points. the GSS finds nearly 70% of Latinos were Catholic in 2006, and while this has decreased to about 56% in 2014, that’s an eight point gap to Pewk. And, where may these Latino Catholics be going? Are they joining fundy protestant groups like Pewk claims? No, they’re not. The proportion of Latinos who identify with sectarian protestant groups has fluctuated trendlessly, really, though you could say it is DOWN if anything. And, nowhere near 20% of Latinos are sectarian Protestants! Less than half that, at 9.5%. No, like other Catholics who leave the faith, most become Nones, and the GSS shows that by 2014 non-identification among Latin Americans almost doubled from 2006 totals–up to nearly 20%. So, about one if five US Latinos are Nones (just slightly less than the rest of the US population), while about one in ten are fundy protestants.

2006-2014 GSS

2006-2014 GSS

The claim that Catholicism is in a demographic collapse also does not fit with the reality presented by the best estimates we have available. And, I’d hardly call the Pewk estimate of a decline from 24% to 21% a demographic collapse. Indeed, the GSS finds relatively trendless fluctuation in Catholic identification—as it has for decades. They may be down slightly, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it—and I half expect a “New Pope” bounce upward once the 2016 data are gathered. Nones have certainly increased from about 17% to about 21%—and sectarian Protestant identifications are in decline, from about 25% of identifiers to under 20% of adherents. The misreporting of religious demography makes me Pewk.

Atheists, Nones, and the Obama Vote

24/05/2015
Obama Vote by Religion--2010-2014 GSS

Obama Vote by Religion–2010-2014 GSS

The growth of secularism in the US is already having a profound impact on politics. While pundits have largely viewed the religious right as the only viable mobilizing force, the non-religious have quietly become the most important minority group in American politics. To give you some idea, above I plot the Obama vote in ’08 or ’12 from the GSS for Atheists and Agnostics versus others, “non-Theists” who are either atheist, agnostic, or “believe in a higher power but not a god”and respondents who don’t identify with a religion (“nones”). Across all three measures about 74% of the secular respondents chose Obama in the last election, while only about 54% of their alters reported voting for Obama.

obamanone2

To get a sense of what that means I chart out the percentage of Obama voters from this group, and compare it to two other influential minorities–African Americans and White sectarians voting for NObama. Atheists and agnostics make up 9.1% of the sample and a bit less of voters (9%), but they accounted for 12% of Obama’s votes, add in the other nontheists, and it is 26% of Obama’s take. None’s account for 23% of Obama voters—though they are only 18% of voters. African Americans make up about 15% of the GSS sample (16% of voters), and account for 27% of Obama’s vote. About 74% of white Sectarian Protestants voted for the NObama, and while they are about 13% of the sample, they were 23% of NObama voters—about the same importance for the Republicans as Nones are for Obama. But, since there are far more “nones” and non-theists than white sectarian Protestants, Obama wins! ha, ha, ha…..

So, to sum up, secular Americans are as important to the Democrats as African Americans, and they are not overlapping constituencies.  And, secular Americans are at least as important for the Democratic vote as are white sectarian Christians for the Republican vote. The “religious factor” in American politics has changed. It is now a battle between secular rationalists and white fundamentalist Christians, and the rationalist can team up with the non-white religious folk! Why? Even though most African Americans and Latinos have relatively conservative religious commitments (Asians are almost uniformly secular, as I show in Changing Faith), they know that white Republican Christians are a bunch of racists. So, we see the new coalition….secular Americans and ethnics against Christian fundamentalists and plutocrats. I’m liking the numbers…..

Nones, Atheists, and Sectarian Protestants—Winners and Losers in the 21st Century

18/05/2015
2006-2014 General Social Survey

2006-2014 General Social Survey

The punditocracy is all a flutter about the latest non-scientific poll by Pew which found many things based on the 10% of targeted respondents (liberally defined) who bothered to respond. It’s sickening that Pew gets all the press when Mike Hout and Tom Smith at NORC did a very nice summary of GSS religion findings from an actual scientific poll.

One thing that people have been pondering, because they failed to read my book, Changing Faith , is how the rejection of religious identification matters for the religious character of the nation. Particularly, does this mean that America is becoming more secular? The OTHER problem with Pew is that at critical junctures they conflate identification with religious organizations with religious beliefs. That is a huge shortcoming for anyone trying to make sense of believing and belonging, because many people who do not believe, nonetheless belong. And, many people who do believe, do not belong. I address this at length in Changing Faith and am updating those findings to the 2014 data.

Still, above you can see REAL estimates (0r the best we have) from 2014 on the proportion of Americans who reject religious identification, and how that has increased over time (from 16% in 2006 to 21% in 2014). A similar trend is found for rejecting belief in a god (combining atheists, agnostic, and people who “believe in a higher power but not a god”)–with more than one in five Americans rejecting belief in a god. A more strict definition limited to atheism and agnosticism shows an increase from about 7% to 9% between 2006 and 2014—and about 7% of 2014 GSS respondents are atheists or agnostics who also reject religious identification (“nones”).  If we broaden that to non-theists, nearly 13% of Americans are nones who don’t believe in a god.

The growth of nones and atheists and atheists nones is mirrored by a decline in sectarian protestant identification—which decreases from nearly 25% in 2006 to under 20% in 2014. If we take out the non-whites, because they are not real Americans, the proportion of Americans who are white sectarian protestants falls from about 16% to about 13%—so non-theist “nones” are as prevalent as white sectarian protestants. Just for shits and giggles, I note that mainline Protestants are not in the freefall claimed by Pew and others—their proportions decreased from about 19% to just under 17%—and Catholic proportions fluctuate randomly around 23%. White sectarian Protestants are a minority of American Christians, and they are in decline.

 


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