Global Index of Religion and Atheism

Some interesting insights.

i.e A 19% drop in religiosity in SA since 2005 from 83% to 64% and a 3% increase of the population identifying themselves as atheist up from 1% to 4%.

Was the question asked in exactly the same words? If not, maybe that’s why the answer is different. This seems to be a big change in a short time.

Generally, this is good news. I notice that in SA only 200 people were interviewed, compared to other countries where the sample sizes ranged between 500 and 2000. For a diverse population this may be inadequate.

I’m really not link-baiting, but I wrote a column on this too. It’s a crap study. The question is bad, the n was 200 (as pointed out above), and there’s no reason to believe the results are comparable to previous studies. More worryingly, there’s little reason to believe that the South African survey was ever completed.

Isn’t this available as part of our latest Census data?

If I recall correctly, the latest SA census did not contain any questions on religion.

Yes, it didn’t. I remember being disappointed.

I remember not being counted.

So you are saying the opportunity to fill in yoist under Other would not have presented itself anyway? Somewhat surprised at that. Surely a country’s religious demographics should be important to geographers and undertakers.


One would think so, but there’s no fathoming the fathomless idiocy of our bureaucracy. I would include it on the grounds that a country’s religiosity is almost always inversely related to its economic performance and directly proportional to the number of people it executes.

That yoism thing looks like a load of crap. If it’s open source, does that mean anyone can be the deity?

S’pose so … but they’ll want to see your superpowers first! :wink:


Just reading the actual FA, and it is interesting to note that three percent of people who have no religion describe themselves as religious persons. Perhaps they didn’t understand the questions, or perhaps they are those creepy people you come across on the internet who claim they are “spiritual but not religious.” Bah!

just been looking at Statsa: religious stats seem somewhat suspicious:

some highlights:
1.6m Anglican;
3m NGKerk;
1 million Lutheran;
2.9m Methodist;
6.7m NONE! ;D;
5.2 m Apostolic;
6.7m Zionist;
3.1m Catholic
75000 Jewish; ???
654 000 Muslim

That probably doesn’t mean what it appears to indicate. Assorted traditional and pagan beliefs are often classified as “none” because (1) they aren’t part of any one specific recognised religious group, and (2) they often do not have any fixed beliefs in respect of deities and rather involve different superstitions and mystical ideas such as ancestor worship. Thus, there is a noteworthy distinction between “no religious beliefs” on the one hand, and “atheist/rationalist/sceptic” on the other. With this in mind, one would be hard-pressed to justify how a significant fraction of people reporting “None” is actually encouraging, especially in the South African context where even most of the government intelligentsia clearly does not understand something as simple and self-evident as liberal democratic principles…


What I don’t understand is why they don’t just go ahead and put atheist/agnostic/skeptic/rationalist explicitly on the polling forms. Are they trying to make us go away by ignoring us or lumping us with Wiccans?

Either it hasn’t occurred to the researchers, or they don’t think it’s a worthwhile demographic distinction. The alternative, namely that they don’t want to offend the religious by officially recognising non-believers as a valid social group, is even scarier to contemplate.


Agree that ‘No-religion’ is none-indicative of atheism/skepticism etc; to be fully representative the census should also have included belief systems that are anti-religion; wiccan, satanism etc. But as you say it’s probably easier to sweep these ‘nasties’ under the proverbial carpet and play they don’t exist. I cannot believe the low figures for Jews and Muslim however. It is also quite revealing that the African population make up 92.5% of the total No-religion category. In my experience this is not an indication of a critical consciousness among Blacks but rather apathy or even rejection of organised religions/churches. They would also make a target group for missionaries and evangelicals to ‘convert’.

Considering how closely secularism/atheism/rationalism correlates, all over the planet, with low crime rates and high standards of living, I would think that it is a pretty fundamental distinction. :slight_smile:

And yes, I think the relationship is at least partially a causal one.

Yes, but by all indications, you have to be one to recognise it. And being one, you will no doubt have been at the receiving end of the tyranny the many are sometimes capable of exacting over the few who choose not to toe the line. Remember also that StatsSA is beholden to the whims of the government.

Me too.


Me too.

I think there is also a reverse causality: in developed nations, people live better and get a better education, and at least fundie religion usually cannot survive an education.