Irreligion may include some forms of theism, depending on the religious context it is defined against; for example, in 18th-century Europe, the epitome of irreligion was deism, while in contemporary East Asia the shared term meaning "irreligion" or "no religion" (無宗教, Chinese pron. wú zōngjiào, Japanese pron. mu shūkyō Korean pron. Mukyo), with which the majority of East Asian populations identify themselves, implies non-membership in one of the institutional religions (such as Buddhism and Christianity) and not necessarily non-belief in traditional folk religions collectively represented by Chinese Shendao and Japanese Shinto (both meaning "ways of gods").
According to the Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries and territories, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with a religion, while 84% are affiliated. By 2060, according to their projections, the number of unaffiliated will increase by over 35 million, but the percentage will decrease to 13% because the total population will grow faster.
According to cross-cultural studies, secularism is expected to decline throughout the 21st century since religion and fertility are positively related, while secularism and fertility are negatively related.
The term irreligion is a combination of the noun religion and the prefix in-, signifying "not" (similar to irrelevant). It was first attested in French as irréligion in 1527, then in English as irreligion in 1598. It was borrowed by Dutch as irreligie in the 17th century, though it's uncertain from which language.
In 1993, the UN's human rights committee declared that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights "protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief." The committee further stated that "the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views." Signatories to the convention are barred from "the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers" to recant their beliefs or convert.
A noted exception to ambiguity, explicitly allowing non-religion, is Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (as adopted in 1982), which states that "No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion." Article 46 of China's 1978 Constitution was even more explicit, stating that "Citizens enjoy freedom to believe in religion and freedom not to believe in religion and to propagate atheism."
A non-denominational person or organization is not restricted to any particular or specific religious denomination. The term has been used in the context of various faiths including Jainism, Bahá'í Faith, Zoroastrianism, Unitarian Universalism, Paganism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Wicca. It stands in contrast with a religious denomination.
Although 11 countries listed below have non-religious majorities, it does not mean that the majority of the populations of these countries don't belong to any religious group. For example, 68% of the Swedish population belongs to the Lutheran Christian Church, while 59% of Albanians declare themselves as religious. Also, though Scandinavian countries have among the highest measures of nonreligiosity and even atheism in Europe, 47% of atheists who live in those countries are still members of the national churches.
A Pew 2015 global projection study for religion and nonreligion, projects that between 2010 and 2050, there will be some initial increases of the unaffiliated followed by a decline by 2050 due to lower global fertility rates among this demographic. Sociologist Phil Zuckerman's global studies on atheism have indicated that global atheism may be in decline due to irreligious countries having the lowest birth rates in the world and religious countries having higher birth rates in general.
According to Pew Research Center's 2012 global study of 230 countries and territories, 16% of the world's population is not affiliated with a religion, while 84% are affiliated. A 2012 Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association report on a poll from 57 countries reported that 59% of the world's population identified as religious person, 23% as not religious person, 13% as "convinced atheists", and also a 9% decrease in identification as "religious" when compared to the 2005 average from 39 countries. Their follow-up report, based on a poll in 2015, found that 63% of the globe identified as religious person, 22% as not religious person, and 11% as "convinced atheists". Their 2017 report found that 62% of the globe identified as religious person, 25% as not religious person, and 9% as "convinced atheists". However, researchers have advised caution with the WIN/Gallup International figures since other surveys which use the same wording, have conducted many waves for decades, and have a bigger sample size, such as World Values Survey; have consistently reached lower figures for the number of atheists worldwide.
Being non-religious is not necessarily equivalent to being an atheist or agnostic. Pew Research Center's global study from 2012 noted that many of the nonreligious actually have some religious beliefs. For example, they observed that "belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7% of Chinese unaffiliated adults, 30% of French unaffiliated adults and 68% of unaffiliated U.S. adults." Out of the global nonreligious population, 76% reside in Asia and the Pacific, while the remainder reside in Europe (12%), North America (5%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4%), sub-Saharan Africa (2%) and the Middle East and North Africa (less than 1%).
The term nones is sometimes used in the U.S. to refer to those who are unaffiliated with any organized religion. This use derives from surveys of religious affiliation, in which "None" (or "None of the above") is typically the last choice. Since this status refers to lack of organizational affiliation rather than lack of personal belief, it is a more specific concept than irreligion. A 2015 Gallup poll concluded that in the U.S. "nones" were the only "religious" group that was growing as a percentage of the population.
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無宗教 mushūkyō, "no religion", in Japanese language and mindset identifies those people who do not belong to organised religion. To the Japanese, the term "religion" or "faith" means organised religions on the model of Christianity, that is a religion with specific doctrines and requirement for church membership. So, when asked "what is their religion", most of the Japanese answer that they "do not belong to any religion". According to NHK studies, those Japanese who identify with mushūkyō and therefore do not belong to any organised religion, actually take part in the folk ritual dimension of Shinto. Ama Toshimaru in Nihonjin wa naze mushukyo na no ka ("Why are the Japanese non-religious?") of 1996, explains that people who do not belong to organised religions but regularly pray and make offerings to ancestors and protective deities at private altars or Shinto shrines will identify themselves as mushukyo. Ama designates "natural religion" what NHK studies define as "folk religion", and other scholars have named "Nipponism" (Nipponkyō) or "common religion".
In the most general use of the term, agnosticism is the view that we do not know whether there is a God or not.(page 56 in 1967 edition)
Let Agnostic Theism stand for that kind of Agnosticism which admits a Divine existence; Agnostic Atheism for that kind of Agnosticism which thinks it does not.
Although many Iranian hardliners are Shi'a chauvinists, Khomeini's ideology saw the revolution as pan-Islamist, and therefore embracing Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, and other, more nondenominational Muslims
Antireligion is opposition to religion of any kind. The term has been used to describe opposition to organized religion, religious practices or religious institutions. This term has also been used to describe opposition to specific forms of supernatural worship or practice, whether organized or not. Opposition to religion also goes beyond the misotheistic spectrum. As such, antireligion is distinct from deity-specific positions such as atheism (the lack of belief in deities) and antitheism (an opposition to belief in deities); although "antireligionists" may also be atheists or antitheists.Irreligion in Africa
Irreligion in Africa, encompassing also atheism in Africa, as well as agnosticism, secular humanism, and general secularism, has been estimated at over tens of millions in various polls. While the predominant religions in Africa are Islam and Christianity, many groups and individuals still practice their traditional beliefs. Despite this, the irreligious population is notable, especially in South Africa where 15.1% of the population describe themselves as irreligious and in Botswana, where 20% of the population describes themselves as non-religious.Irreligion in Australia
Atheism, agnosticism, deism, scepticism, freethought, secular humanism or general secularism are increasing in Australia. Post-war Australia has become a highly secularised country. Religion does not play a major role in the lives of much of the population.When asked of their religious affiliation in the 2016 census, 29.6% of Australians (or 6,933,708 people) selected "no religion." This is more than seven percent higher (and 2,240,546 more people), than in the 2011 census. Additionally in 2016, another 0.5% instead opted to specify their form of irreligion, writing it in under "other," hence resulting in 30.1% of Australians (or just over 7,040,700 people) selecting "no religion." A further 9.6% either did not state a religion, or gave a response that was unclear, meaning that 39.7% of Australians did not expressly state a religious affiliation in the 2016 census.In the 2011 census, 22.3% of Australians (or 4,796,787 people) described themselves as having "no religion." This was more than three percent higher (and 1,090,232 people more) than in the 2006 census and was the second largest category. Another 2.014 million (9.4%) were in the "not-stated or inadequately-defined" category: so more than 31% of Australians did not state a religious affiliation in the 2011 census.In the 2006 census, 18.7% of Australians (or 3,706,555 people) had described themselves as having "no religion." This was three percent higher than in the 2001 census and was the largest growth in total number of any religious option in that census (800,557 people). A further 2.4 million (11.9%) did not state a religion (or inadequately described it). So just over 30% of Australians did not state a religious affiliation in the 2006 census.
According to a 2004 study by Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, 25% of Australians do not believe in any gods.Irreligion in China
China has the world's greatest irreligious population. The Chinese government is officially atheist. Despite limitations on certain forms of religious expression and assembly, religion is not banned, and religious freedom is nominally protected under the Chinese constitution. Among the general Chinese population, there are a wide variety of religious practices. The Chinese government's attitude to religion is one of skepticism and non-promotion. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 47% of Chinese people were convinced atheists, and a further 30% were not religious. In comparison, only 14% considered themselves to be religious. More recently, a 2015 Gallup poll found the number of convinced atheists in China to be 61%, with a further 29% saying that they are not religious compared to just 7% who are religious. Since 1978, the constitution provides for religious freedom: "No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens because they do, or do not believe in religion" (article 36). The Chinese state officially recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. In order to be a member of the Communist Party of China an individual must not have religious affiliation.Irreligion in Egypt
Irreligion in Egypt is controversial due to the largely conservative nature of the country. It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists or agnostics in Egypt, as the stigma attached to being one makes it hard for irreligious Egyptians to publicly profess their views. Furthermore, public statements that can be deemed critical of Islam or Christianity can be tried under the country's notorious blasphemy law. Outspoken atheists, like Alber Saber, have been convicted under this law. These types of crime in Egypt hold a status similar to Antragsdelikt, legal proceedings only occur if a citizen takes the step of suing the person engaging in blasphemy, and cases are not initiated by the general prosecutor.
The number of atheists is reportedly on the rise among the country's youth, many of whom organize and communicate with each other on the internet. In 2013 an Egyptian newspaper reported that 3 million out of 84 million Egyptians are atheists. While the government has acknowledged this trend, it has dealt with it as a problem that needs to be confronted, comparing it to religious extremism. In 2014 the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Awqaf announced a joint strategy to combat the spread of "harmful ideas" among the nation's youth, namely atheism and religious extremism. In December 2014 Dar al-Ifta, a government-affiliated Islamic centre of education and jurisprudence, claimed that there are 866 atheists in Egypt, a figure which amounts to 0.001% of the population and was called by The Guardian "suspiciously precise". Despite hostile sentiments towards them atheists in Egypt have become increasingly vocal on internet platforms like YouTube and Facebook since the Egyptian revolution of 2011, with some videos discussing atheist topics receiving millions of views.In a 2011 Pew Research poll of 1,798 Muslims in Egypt, 63% of those surveyed supported "the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion." However, no such punishment actually exists in the country. In January 2018 the head of the parliament's religious committee, Amr Hamroush, suggested a bill to make atheism illegal, stating that "it [atheism] must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine and try to insult the Abrahamic religions".Atheists or irreligious people cannot change their official religious status, thus statistically they are counted as followers of the religion they were born with.Irreligion in Kazakhstan
Almost 3% of Kazakhstan citizens can be identified as irreligious.Irreligion in Pakistan
Irreligion and atheism are present among a minority of mainly young people in Pakistan.In 2005, about 1% of the population was estimated to be atheist, and by 2012, the figure rose to about 2% according to Gallup.Atheists in Pakistan face discrimination, persecution and prejudice in society. Pakistan is reported by some sources to be among the seven countries where atheism can attract capital punishment, but according to the Library of Congress of the United States, "there is no specific statutory law that criminalizes apostasy in Pakistan." On the other hand, the Pakistani government can impose the death penalty for blasphemy.Internet groups have emerged, such as Atheist and Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAAP), whose website received over 17,000 hits within 48 hours of its launch. Pakistani blogger Ayaz Nizami, the Vice President of the website and founder of realisticapproach.org, an Urdu website about atheism, is currently detained under the charges of blasphemy and could face the death penalty. This happened shortly after former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif supported a crackdown on blasphemous material posted on social media and described blasphemy as an "unpardonable offence" in March 2017.Irreligion in South Africa
Irreligion, according to the South African National Census of 2001, accounts for the religious beliefs of 15.1% of people in South Africa, the majority of those being White.A 2012 poll indicated that the number of South Africans who consider themselves religious decreased from 83% of the population in 2005 to 64% of the population in 2012.Irreligion in the Maldives
Irreligion in the Maldives is a social taboo, and irreligious people are systematically socially and legally discriminated against.Irreligion in the Middle East
Though atheists in the West Asia and Egypt (Middle East) are rarely public about their lack of belief, and they are persecuted in many countries, including Saudi Arabia where they are classified as terrorists, there are some atheist organizations in the Middle East and Arab world.Irreligion in the Philippines
Irreligion in the Philippines is particularly rare among Filipinos (see Religion in the Philippines), with Christianity being the dominant faith. Less than 0.1% of Filipinos lack a religious affiliation. It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists or agnostics in the Philippines as they are not officially counted in the census of the country, although the National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2010 gathered that 73,248 Filipinos have no religious affiliation or have answered "none". However, since 2011, the non-religious increasingly organized themselves, especially among the youth in the country. There is a stigma attached to being an atheist in the Philippines, and this necessitates many Filipino atheists to communicate with each other via the Internet, for example via the Philippine Atheism, Agnosticism and Secularism, Inc. formerly known as Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society.Irreligion in the United States
Surveys show that Americans without a religious affiliation (which include 'nothing particular', agnostic, and atheist) range around 23.8%, 22.8%, 24.8%, 31%, 36% and 21% of the population, with 'nothing in particulars' making up the majority of this demographic. Since the early 1990s, independent polls have shown the rapid growth of those without a religious affiliation.
Portraits of American religion and irreligion vary and often show wide variation of results due to numerous polling factors such as the commonality of very low response rates for all polls since the 1990s generating unrepresentative sample sizes, biases in wording or topic, polls categorizing people based on limited, shallow or superficial choices to express their complex religious beliefs and practices, and interviewer/respondent fatigue. Since polls routinely fail to predict outcomes of government elections, it casts doubt on the ability of polls to capture accurate portraits of American religion, which is even more complex and personal.
Unaffiliated Americans are sometimes referred to as the "Nones" demographic, which include atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular”. According to Pew in 2017, 72% of the "Nones" believe in God, a higher power, or spiritual force. In 2012, though having no religion and not seeking religion the "Nones" have diverse views: 68% believe in God, 12% are atheists, 17% are agnostics; in terms of self-identification of religiosity 18% consider themselves religious, 37% consider themselves as spiritual but not religious, and 42% considers themselves as neither spiritual nor religious; and 21% pray every day and 20% pray once a month. According to the 2008 ARIS, the Nones have diverse beliefs: 7% were atheist, 35% were agnostics, 24% were deists, and 27% were theists.According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014, 22.8% of the American population does not identify with a religion, including atheists (3.1%) and agnostics (4%). According to the 2014 General Social Survey, 21% of the American population does not identify with a religion; furthermore, the number of atheists and agnostics in the U.S. has remained relatively flat in the past 23 years. In 1991, only 2% identified as atheist, and 4% identified as agnostic. In 2014, only 3% identified as atheists, and 5% identified as agnostics.Self-identification among the Nones is also diverse. For instance, according to Pew study in 2009, only 5% of the total US population did not have a belief in a god. Out of all those without a belief in a god, only 24% self-identified as "atheist", while 15% self-identified as "agnostic", 35% self-identified as "nothing in particular", and 24% identified with a religious tradition. The Nones tend to be more politically liberal and their growth has resulted in some increases in membership of secular organizations. However, the overwhelming majority of those without religion are not joining secular groups or even aligning with secularism.Identifying as religious and/or spiritual vary widely across surveys depending on the wording they use. Among longitudinal academic surveys such as the General Social Survey which allows for degrees of religious identification: 22.4% are not religious, 22.6% were slightly religious, 38.1% were moderately religious, and 16.4% were very religious in 2016. According to a 2017 Pew report which asked about religious and spiritual identification: 54% of Americans consider themselves religious, 75% consider themselves spiritual. In combination, 27% are spiritual but not religious and 18% are neither spiritual nor religious. Those who do not consider themselves as 'religious' may often consider themselves "affiliated" with a major religion and/or "spiritual".Various explanations have been proposed for the changing demographics such as reduction of negative stigmas on labels allowing more Americans to identify with other options than just religion, general and broader cultural changes in American life impacting all things including religious identity and behavior, political backlash against religion in politics, delays in marriage and having children among younger generations delaying participation rates in religious activities, and general increases in distrust among younger generations on all institutions including religion, marriage, politics and the media.List of countries by irreligion
Irreligion, which may include deism, agnosticism, ignosticism, anti-religion, atheism, skepticism, ietsism, spiritual but not religious, freethought, anti-theism, apatheism, non-belief, pandeism, secular humanism, non-religious theism, pantheism and panentheism, varies in the different countries around the world. According to reports from the Worldwide Independent Network/Gallup International Association's (WIN/GIA) four global polls: in 2005, 77% were a religious person and 4% were "convinced atheists" while in 2012, 23% were not a religious person and an additional 13% were "convinced atheists"; in 2015, 22% were not a religious person and an additional 11% were "convinced atheists"; and in 2017, 25% were not a religious person and an additional 9% were "convinced atheists".According to sociologist Phil Zuckerman, broad estimates of those who have an absence of belief in a God range from 500 to 750 million people worldwide. According to sociologists Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera's review of numerous global studies on atheism, there are 450 to 500 million positive atheists and agnostics worldwide (7% of the world's population), with China having the most atheists in the world (200 million convinced atheists).Religion in Asia
Asia is the largest and most populous continent and the birthplace of many religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. All major religious traditions are practiced in the region and new forms are constantly emerging. Asia is noted for its diversity of culture.Religion in Somalia
The major religion in Somalia is Islam. There is a small Christian community in Somalia mainly living amongst Somali Muslims in the Banaadir region. Additionally, some ethnic minorities in the southern part of the country practice traditional faiths.Religion in Sudan
Religion plays an important role in Sudan, with 97% of the country's population adhering to Islam. The vast majority of Muslims in Sudan are Sunni belonging to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Protestants are about 5% of the population mainly in the south. Roman Catholics are 3.2%.Religion in the Czech Republic
Religion in the Czech Republic was dominated by Christianity until at least the early 20th century, but today Czechia is characterised as being one of the least religious societies in Europe. Since the 1620 Battle of White Mountain religious sphere was accompanied by a widespread anti-Catholic sentiment even when the whole population nominally belonged to the Catholic Church. Overall, Christianity has steadily declined since the early 20th century and today remains only a minority. The Czech Republic has one of the oldest least religious populations in the world. Ever since the 1620 Battle of White Mountain, the Czech people have been historically characterised as "tolerant and even indifferent towards religion". According to Jan Spousta, among the irreligious people, who form the vast majority of modern Czechs, not all are atheists; indeed there has been an increasing distancing from both Christian dogmatism and atheism, and at the same time ideas from Far Eastern religions have become widespread.Christianisation in the 9th and 10th centuries introduced Roman Catholicism. After the Bohemian Reformation, most Czechs (about 85%) became followers of Jan Hus, Petr Chelčický and other regional Protestant Reformers. Taborites and Utraquists were major Hussite groups. During the Hussite Wars, Utraquists sided with the Catholic Church. Following the joint Utraquist—Catholic victory, Utraquism was accepted as a distinct form of Christianity to be practised in Bohemia by the Catholic Church while all remaining Hussite groups were prohibited. After the Reformation, some Bohemians went with the teachings of Martin Luther, especially Sudeten Germans. In the wake of the Reformation, Utraquist Hussites took a renewed increasingly anti-Catholic stance, while some of the defeated Hussite factions (notably Taborites) were revived. Bohemian Estates' defeat in the Battle of White Mountain brought radical religious changes and started a series of intense actions taken by the Habsburgs in order to bring the Czech population back to the Catholic Church. After the Habsburgs regained control of Bohemia, the whole population was forcibly converted to Roman Catholicism—even the Utraquist Hussites. All kinds of Protestant communities including the various branches of Hussites, Lutherans and Reformed were either expelled, killed, or converted to Roman Catholicism. Going forward, Czechs have become more wary and pessimistic of religion as such. A long history of resistance to the Catholic Church followed. It suffered a schism with the neo-Hussite Czechoslovak Hussite Church in 1920, lost the bulk of its adherents during the communist era and continues to lose in the modern, ongoing secularisation. Protestantism never recovered after the Counter-Reformation was introduced by the Austrian Habsburgs in 1620.
According to the 2011 census, 34.5% of the population stated they had no religion, 10.5% were Catholics, 1% Protestants, 0.9% members of other Christian churches, 6.8% were believers but not members of religions, while 0.7% were believers and members of other certain religions. 44.7% of the population did not answer the question about religion. From 1991 to 2001 the population's proportion of members of the Catholic Church decreased from 39.0% to 26.8%. Protestantism declined from 4% to 2%. Due to changes in the last 2011 census' categories, each category has seen a decrease: the proportion of people who have no religion declined from 59% to 34.5%, the Catholics declined from 26.8% to 10.5% and Protestants declined from 2% to 1%. People who didn't answer the optional question rose from 8.8% to 44.7%.Secularism and irreligion in Georgia (country)
Secularism and irreligion in Georgia was most popular in the 20th century when the country was part of the Soviet Union. In the 21st century, secular and non-religious currents have seen a precipitous decline due to the rising popularity of the Georgian Orthodox Church and the fact that religious faith in general “has become fashionable” in Georgian society.Theological noncognitivism
Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.