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Old 07-05-2001, 11:51 AM   #81
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Le Pede, I'm continually surprised at your defense of the treatment of religious practitioners in China. You seem like an otherwise reasonable and informed poster.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Le Pede: When Layman argues that the church is controlled by the CP, this just means that it's not the theism he wants to see. Theism, controlled by the state or not is still theism. </font>
No, it means that the forced control of religious institutions by the communist party, an officially atheistic organization, is just another form of persecution and suppression. Would you think that the United States was recognizing freedom of speech and freedom of religion if demanded that organizations such as the ACLU or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State if it allowed them to exist so long as they adopted specific pro-government viewpoints, was controlled by Christians committed to eliminating the separation of church and state, allows those Christians to appoint the leaders, pick the lawyers, and approve the budget. I doubt it. Such actions would be an outrage and recognized as a disincentive to the actions so proscribed.

But the problem goes much deeper than you are willing to recognize. You refer to an interesting article from the Presbyterian Church and provide some select quotes as if there is no persecution. But of course the article says no such thing and admits to ongoing persecution in China (Susan Boone, who teaches with her husband at Hangzhou University [says] "In America people go to church because it's expected. Not here. They risk everything. At the school where I teach, professors who are openly Christian don't get promoted."; "There are many places in China," Wickeri admits, "where it is difficult to be a Christian."). And, those admissions are coming from a group dedicated to working with the Chinese Government and eager not to rock the boat.

Of course, it is entirely possible that things have gotten better in China, but that previous decades of censorship, persecution, and indoctrinated atheism have produced bumper crops of atheists. Such decades of oppression, indoctrination, and censorship are enough to support my point that these regimes have produced the majority of atheists in this century. So let's keep our eye on the ball. My point is that these regimes have acted in oppressive ways to produce atheists. Lots of atheists. The majority of atheists in fact. In the former USSR, there is still a higher proportion of atheists than in most other countries, even though the atheists no longer persecute Christians and control the schools. Even if things were better in China--which as we will see is not necessarily true--previous decades of indoctrination and persecution have had their impact.

Remember what Adherents.com has to say:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Prior to Communist takeovers of these regions and government attempts to eradicate religion, both places had very high levels of affiliation with organized religions (especially Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism), as well as high levels of participation in and belief in traditional local traditions such as shamanism, ancestor ceremonies, spiritism, etc. Since the fall of Communism in former Soviet nations and the relaxation of anti-religious policies in China, observed religious affiliation and activity has increased dramatically, especially in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.

China probably does have the largest number of actual atheists of any country in the world and
many Russians clearly remain atheists. </font>
According to Adherents.com, the former Soviet Union and communist China made attempts to "eradicate religion." While they claim that China may have "relaxed" its anti-religious policies, it certain does not say it has eliminated them. I'll discuss China's past and ongoing persecution below, but I'm curious. Do you deny that communist China acted to persecute religious believers, suppress religious belief, and promote atheism? Or do you just claim that it is not so bad now? And if you don't think China has acted to persecute religious believers, suppress religious belief, and promote atheism, why do you think that they have the highest number of atheists in the world? Unbiased promotion of free-thinking in the Chinese schools?

But let's examine the rest of the story, rather than your whitewashed version. Beginning in 1966, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution closed all churches and religious institutions. It also seized religious literature. About 99% of the Bibles in China were seized during the Cultural Revolution. Not until 1980-1981 did some churches, tightly controlled by the state and still disfavored, were allowed to reopen. And not until 1987 did those Bible you refer to begin to be printed.

But any person seeking to practice a religion in China is required to become a member of a "registered" church controlled by the communist party. That is, they had to subject themselves to domination and administration by atheists. According to Human Rights Watch, the state (which is officially atheistic) selects the clergy, controls the finances, controls the seminaries, vetoes building programs, and "scrutinizes" religious literature. And, perhaps most important for the purposes of our discussion, the state forbids even registered believers to teach religion to their children.

All religious practitioners that do not register with the state and submit to their guidelines regarding operation and belief, are suppressed and persecuted. Why might some groups refuse to submit to registration? Many reasons, including having to comply with government requirements that they adjust their beliefs and allow the government to pick their clergy. And, perhaps most chilling, "they fear adverse consequences if they reveal, as required, the names and addresses of members and details about leadership activities, finances, and contacts in China or abroad." State Department Report, July 1997.

Would such revelation have adverse consequences? Yes. Not only would the registered church have to submit its budget, doctrine, and selection of clergy to the state, but the overt identification and registration of all of its members would expose them to other persecution. The communist party in China explicitly states that religious belief and membership in the communist party are incompatible. Membership in the communist party is required for government positions and management positions in state-run industries. Thus, because membership in a "registered" church means that your identify and religious beliefs will be known to the government, such membership all but guarantees that the government will preclude you from government office or positions in state-run industries. I have also read, and heard from members of the underground church, that such revelation is especially harmful to teachers in schools and professors in colleges. Because such learning institutions are controlled by atheists, identified Christians are likely to, and have, lose such jobs and positions. So, even those practitioners who subordinate their beliefs to the state by registering face official persecution for their theistic beliefs.

But you are correct that much stiffer persecution is faced by those who do not "register" with the state. So how does China treat those religious practitioners that do not submit to the domination of the state? Persecution of these groups have escalated, not diminished. Here is what Clinton's State Department has noted:

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Guided by a central policy directive of October 1996 that launched a national campaign to suppress unauthorized religious groups and social organizations, Chinese authorities in some areas made strong efforts to crack down on the activities of unregistered Catholic and Protestant movements in 1996-1997. They raided and closed several hundred "house church" groups, many with significant memberships, properties, and financial resources. Local authorities used threats, demolition of property, extortion of "fines," interrogation, detention, and
reform-through-education sentences in carrying out this campaign. Some leaders of such groups
were detained for lengthy investigation, and some were beaten. There were reports that
unofficial groups were particularly hard hit in Beijing and the nearby provinces of Henan (where
there are rapidly growing numbers of Protestants), and Hebei, a center of unregistered Catholics.
At present, four Catholic underground bishops are among the many Christians who remain
imprisoned or detained, or whose whereabouts are unknown. Catholic priests, Bishop Joseph
Fan Zhongliang and Rev. Zen Caijun, were subjected to searches and seizures of religious
articles and other property in 1997. </font>
Additionally, Amnesty International reports cases of Christian women hung by their thumbs form wires and beaten with heavy rods, denied food and water, and shocked with electric probes. I could fill up the posts with other specific examples of imprisonment and abuse of nonregistered religious practitioners. But I think, I hope, you get the idea.

There it is. Things do seem to have gotten better for theism in general. But only after the government closed down all churches and religious institutions, confiscated most of the Bible in the country, promoted atheism, and persecuted believers. Even with the "relaxation" but not elimination of anti-religious practices, the officially atheistic communist party requires adherence to atheism in order to gain advancement in the government or in industry. Teachers and professors face termination from their job if they are known to be Christians. And those religious adherents who do not submit to atheist control and management of their organizations are arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and killed.

And you don't think this is persecution or suppression of religious belief?

Whatever you choose to label it, I believe it is sufficient to support the following statement: Atheists in China promoted their own beliefs by indoctrination and suppression and persecution of religious belief. This resulted in China having the largest atheist population in the world.

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited July 05, 2001).]
 
Old 07-05-2001, 02:04 PM   #82
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I am willing to concede that the majority of the world's atheists exist in countries where there has been persecution of religions. But I don't think that the evidence can show that persecution itself has produced the most atheists. That is where the main point of contention is.
 
Old 07-05-2001, 02:18 PM   #83
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Le pede:
I am willing to concede that the majority of the world's atheists exist in countries where there has been persecution of religions. But I don't think that the evidence can show that persecution itself has produced the most atheists. That is where the main point of contention is. </font>
I didn't say persecution itself. I said persecuted religious belief and state coerced indoctrination into atheism.
 
Old 07-05-2001, 02:36 PM   #84
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Me: My main point is unchallenged: most atheists were produced in and by countries that actively promoted it through indoctrination and oppression of opponents.

Turton: Your main point is like saying the earth is round.

Me: Then we agree on this.
 
Old 07-05-2001, 07:15 PM   #85
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Layman:

Why are you having such a hard time accepting that the former USSR and communist China have produced the greatest number of atheists?


I suppose we must add "incapable of reading" to your list of flaws. Where have I ever denied this possibility? The problem is that with the exception of the GDR, you have no good numbers. Russia's atheists are at 27% and falling, and will no doubt slide past the Netherlands into the middle of the pack if present trends continue. No point there.

China also had millions of atheists prior to the Communist takeover -- nor am I referring to Buddhism; Confucianism is atheist. Have you any numbers vis-a-vis atheism prior to 1949 in China? Nor have you given us any numbers about the percentage of atheists in China, which I suspect is extremely low, nor have you demonstrated that their atheism was caused by indoctrination from the State.

You still have presented no convincing evidence to support your thesis. It turns out that the Russian figures are bogus, the German Protestant Churches blame themselves for the failure to pick up the numbers of Xtianity in E. Germany after Reunification, you have no numbers whatsever for China, and there are more atheists in Europe than you originally thought.

You have nothing but air, Layman. Can you get us some numbers on China?

Are you really denying this? Or are you denying that they persecuted theists and fostered state coerced indoctrination?

Hmm, must be that failure to read thing. I guess some of Nomad's problems have rubbed off on you. In my last post I not only affirmed this, I used it to point out how your religion's evil policy of missionary activity gets people harassed, tortured, and killed. There are two authoritarian institutions getting the Chinese killed, and it takes the efforts of them both to get it done. I assume that since neither side is stupid, they each feel that harassment, torture, civil rights denial and murder serve their interests.

Additionally, because missionaries know that many converts will get killed, it looks as though you people don't care how many Chinese get killed converting to your religion, or you would stop the activity.

BTW, you've left off Japan, where most people have no religion, polls usually land between one-half and 3/4 of the population in atheism, and over 80% among the young. That's about 70-100 million atheists, or by far the largest number outside of China, and the second highest percentage after the GDR.

Of course, numbers vary wildly on Japan....

This missionary site,
http://www.nafwb.org/fm/japan/
says only about 20% of the population believes in God -- the Xtian god (not clear) and also identifies the high numbers of atheists among the young.

Japan, I think, gives lie to your numbers.

Let's summarize those numbers to see just how bad they are....

From a Lutheran mission website in Russia:
http://www.lhmint.org/facts/russia/

Statistics supplied by the Directorate on Social and Religious Unions, Ministry of Justice, Russian Federation. Faiths and confessions with the greatest representation include Russian Orthodox (54 percent), Islam (19 percent), Baptists (five percent), Christians of Evangelical Faith-Pentecostals (three percent), Evangelical Christians (2.4 percent).

Note that if you do the sums, that leaves less than 17% for all other beliefs including atheism. Now, since there are about 145 million people in Russia today, that gives 24.65 million people, give or take, who are atheists by the most generous count. That would mean -- surprise! -- there are about as many atheists in the US as in Russia.

Was that &gt;poof&lt; the sound of your claim vanishing into thin air?

Russia -- 24.65 million
China -- no numbers, your claims so far are air.
GDR -- was about twenty million people, that gives about 18 million atheists.

That's, umm, about 42 million atheists in the two states. How many more can there be in the old Warsaw pact states?

According to
http://www.comptons.com/encyclopedia...0498432_A.html
Czech Rep. is 40% atheist, so that's 4 million atheists.

According to this CARE report
http://www.care.org.uk/resource/ls/ls961209.htm
Hungary is 5% atheist (at bottom), also out of 10 million people, or about .5 million.

In other words, in all of Communist-occupied Europe, there would seem to be fewer atheists than in Japan (but we need some more solid numbers for Japan).

So here it is: bring on the numbers, Layman, or retract the claim that most atheists this century have been created through brutal indoctrination programs.

BTW, I am still waiting for any evidence that "most atheists" supported these oppressive policies. I am sure I'll wait in vain for that too.

Michael

[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited July 05, 2001).]
 
Old 07-05-2001, 08:05 PM   #86
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
I suppose we must add "incapable of reading" to your list of flaws. Where have I ever denied this possibility? The problem is that with the exception of the GDR, you have no good numbers. Russia's atheists are at 27% and falling, and will no doubt slide past the Netherlands into the middle of the pack if present trends continue. No point there.</font>
Okay. Obviously I can read so I can only guess you are just being insulting. You've already agreed to my main point as I quoted in an above post. Now you seem to be "taking it back." I could insult you and say this indicates a lack of intelligence, but I don't think it really does. I think it indicates a heated argument.

But. As is obvious and as I have stated already. OF COURSE THE NUMBER OF ATHEISTS IS DROPPING IN RUSSIA BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT HAS STOPPED PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS AND COERCIVELY INDOCTRINATING THEIR POPULATIONS. Since my point is that atheism has spread largely through coercive government indoctrination and persecution, it is unsurprising that once the atheists stopped indoctrinating and persecuting, that the numbers would fall off to some extent. If anything, Russia has moved back into the sphere of influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Regardless, 27% of Russians (155 million) being atheists represents a vastly superior number of atheists (42 milion) than does a roughly equivalent % of atheists in the Netherlands (15 million population, 4 million atheists).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">China also had millions of atheists prior to the Communist takeover -- nor am I referring to Buddhism; Confucianism is atheist. Have you any numbers vis-a-vis atheism prior to 1949 in China? Nor have you given us any numbers about the percentage of atheists in China, which I suspect is extremely low, nor have you demonstrated that their atheism was caused by indoctrination from the State. </font>
Now you are playing definitional games. While confucianism might be desribed by some as atheistic, it is not considered to be "atheism" by any of the statistics we have been using. Neither the World Almanac, or any of the multiple sources relied on by Adherents.com combine them. They are distinct.

I've quoted support for fact that the coercive government indoctrination and persecution by atheists in China increased the number of atheists from your very own source: Adherents.com.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Estimates for atheism alone range from 200 to 240 million. But these come primarily from China and former Soviet Union nations (especially Russia). Prior to Communist takeovers of these regions and government attempts to eradicate religion, both places had very high levels of affiliation with organized religions (especially Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism), as well as high levels of participation in and belief in traditional local traditions such as shamanism, ancestor ceremonies, spiritism, etc. Since the fall of Communism in former Soviet nations and the relaxation of anti-religious policies in China, observed religious affiliation and activity has increased dramatically, especially in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. China probably does have the largest number of actual atheists of any country in the world and many Russians clearly remain atheists. </font>
So, atheism surged after the communist takeover because of government persecution. If you now choose to ignore your own source, fine, but at least explain why you have changed your mind as to its reliability.

And given the persecution I have described, I think it is a reasonable conclusion to link the rise of atheism in China with the coercive government practices meant to promote atheism and hinder religious belief. Of course, if you are convinced that decades of coercive atheistic indoctrination and persecution of religious adherents could not have increased the number of atheists in the former USSR and communist China, then I don't think there is much left to discuss.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You still have presented no convincing evidence to support your thesis. It turns out that the Russian figures are bogus, the German Protestant Churches blame themselves for the failure to pick up the numbers of Xtianity in E. Germany after Reunification, you have no numbers whatsever for China, and there are more atheists in Europe than you originally thought. </font>
When did you prove that the Russian numbers are bogus? Again, I used the 1994 World Almanac and YOUR very own source, Adherents.com to demonstrate the high number of atheists in the former USSR. It specifically noted that religous observanve dropped off and atheism rose during the Soviet persecution of religious belief.

Here, I'll quote the relevant portion of your source again:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Estimates for atheism alone range from 200 to 240 million. But these come primarily from China and former Soviet Union nations (especially Russia). Prior to Communist takeovers of these regions and government attempts to eradicate religion, both places had very high levels of affiliation with organized religions (especially Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism), as well as high levels of participation in and belief in traditional local traditions such as shamanism, ancestor ceremonies, spiritism, etc. Since the fall of Communism in former Soviet nations and the relaxation of anti-religious policies in China, observed religious affiliation and activity has increased dramatically, especially in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.</font>
And I'm not sure how the Protestant churches failure to win converts after reunification proves that the atheistic coercion and persecution in E.Germany was not responsible for the high number of atheists in that country to begin with.

The number of current atheists in Europe you cited includes those from Russia, a formerly communist country where the atheists coercively indoctrinated the citizenry and persecution religious belief. The numbers I gave for European atheism did not include any of the formerly Russian countries in which the atheists persecuted religious belief and coercively indoctrinated the populace.

Even so, as Adherents.com notes, the majority of atheists come from communists countries where the atheists attempted to "eradicate religion."

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You have nothing but air, Layman. Can you get us some numbers on China? </font>
I can give you information from your own source.

Here ya go:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Estimates for atheism alone range from 200 to 240 million. But these come primarily from China and former Soviet Union nations (especially Russia). Prior to Communist takeovers of these regions and government attempts to eradicate religion, both places had very high levels of affiliation with organized religions (especially Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism), as well as high levels of participation in and belief in traditional local traditions such as shamanism, ancestor ceremonies, spiritism, etc. Since the fall of Communism in former Soviet nations and the relaxation of anti-religious policies in China, observed religious affiliation and activity has increased dramatically, especially in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. China probably does have the largest number of actual atheists of any country in the world and many Russians clearly remain atheists. </font>
http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

According to the 1997 Brittanica Book of the Year, the number of Chinese atheists in 1996 was 146,000,000.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Hmm, must be that failure to read thing. I guess some of Nomad's problems have rubbed off on you. In my last post I not only affirmed this, I used it to point out how your religion's evil policy of missionary activity gets people harassed, tortured, and killed. There are two authoritarian institutions getting the Chinese killed, and it takes the efforts of them both to get it done. I assume that since neither side is stupid, they each feel that harassment, torture, civil rights denial and murder serve their interests. </font>
Great, blame the victim. Those Chinese deserve to die because of their assumed, but undemonstrated, contact with Western missionaries? And you think you have the moral highground in this debate?

I've outlined the Chinese persecution of religous belief AND their promotion of atheism. Their persecution exists against properly "registered" Christians as well as the underground church. And you ignore the decades of closed churches, confiscated religious literature, and abuse of religious believers that existed before the 1980s.

And of course this is a rhetorical sideshow for you. It does nothing to destract from my point: most atheists were produced in and by governments that coercively indoctrinated atheistic belief and persecuted religious belief.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Additionally, because missionaries know that many converts will get killed, it looks as though you people don't care how many Chinese get killed converting to your religion, or you would stop the activity. </font>
Here we go again, blaming the victim. The underground church is not the result of foreign missionaries, although some have received such assistance. The overwhelming number of conversions are Chinese to Chinese evangelism. Regardless, the Chinese who are converted, by whomever, are aware of the dangers. But they have the right to choose for themselves what they will do. No western missionary is forcing them to convert. While the atheists ARE persecuting religious adherents AND promoting atheism through coercive means.

And none of this changes the reality that it is the atheistic communist Chinese doing the murdering. And that it was atheistic communist Chinese who for decades closed all religious institutions, churches, confiscated almost all of the Bibles, beat and persecuted believers from all religions, and coercively promoted atheism.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">BTW, you've left off Japan, where most people have no religion, polls usually land between one-half and 3/4 of the population in atheism, and over 80% among the young. That's about 70-100 million atheists, or by far the largest number outside of China, and the second highest percentage after the GDR.
Of course, numbers vary wildly on Japan....</font>
According to the World Almana "a large majority" of Japanese are adherents to Buddhism, Shintoism. Even according to your source, Adherents.com, between 80%-90% of Japanese are adherents to Shintoism or Buddhism (there is a large measure of overlap), not atheism.

http://www.adherents.com/adhloc/Wh_167.html

Even if your figures were true--which you have failed to demonstrate and which has been countered by other evidnce, it doesn't change the fact of my point. Atheists produced in the former USSR and communist China far outnumber those produced-to whatever extent--in Japan.




[This message has been edited by Layman (edited July 05, 2001).]
 
Old 07-05-2001, 08:42 PM   #87
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> BTW, I am still waiting for any evidence that "most atheists" supported these oppressive policies. I am sure I'll wait in vain for that too. </font>
Did you edit your post before or after my response made it on the boards?

I corrected the statement in a previous post. You must have missed it. I agree that I have no evidence that "most atheists" supported the oppressive policies. I maintain that the majority of atheists were produced in and by countries that had such policies. The atheists themselves were victims.

And your numbers in Japan are way off. As I demonstrated in the above post.

And I'm glad to see the numbers have dropped in Hungary. According to Adherents.com, Hungary's population in 1991 was 23.3% atheist. According to your newly discovered source, it is down signficantly since the atheist regime fell from power. More good news.

And you are missing quite a few formerly communist or still communist states, like Slovenia (600,000), Slovakia (530,000), North Korea (claimed to be the "first completely atheistic nation" ever, 22 million), and Cuba (710,000).

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited July 05, 2001).]
 
Old 07-05-2001, 09:04 PM   #88
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So the argument comes down to how one defines "atheist." If we are defining "atheist" as one who does not believe in a god, then the number of atheists increases significantly--we have to incorporate Japan's numbers, as turtonm has pointed out. However, if we define atheist as having no religion at all, then the number of atheists declines. My view is if we count Confucianism as a religion (from what I understand it's more of a philosophy), we might as well count Maoism as one too. Well, I have to say that I'm tired of this semantic battle, and am moving on.
 
Old 07-05-2001, 09:50 PM   #89
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Note that if you do the sums, that leaves less than 17% for all other beliefs including atheism. Now, since there are about 145 million people in Russia today, that gives 24.65 million people, give or take, who are atheists by the most generous count. That would mean -- surprise! -- there are about as many atheists in the US as in Russia. </font>
As I pointed out above, your numbers are suspect. And suspect by the sources you were originally relying on (adherents.com), but now seem to be abandoning. I guess it got inconvenient for you.

But given that the World Almanac puts athiests in North America at less than 2 million. How does even your newly found lower number of 25 million atheists in Russia = 2 million?

 
Old 07-06-2001, 04:51 AM   #90
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
As I pointed out above, your numbers are suspect. And suspect by the sources you were originally relying on (adherents.com), but now seem to be abandoning. I guess it got inconvenient for you.

But given that the World Almanac puts athiests in North America at less than 2 million. How does even your newly found lower number of 25 million atheists in Russia = 2 million?
</font>
I'm relying on opinion polls that generally peg the number of atheists in the US at 8-10% of the population. The World Almanac figure is absurd -- that would be less than 1/2 of 1% of the population -- that number wouldn't even account for all the science PHDs who are atheists! Obviously it is a bogus figure.

I never "supported" Adherents.com, it is not my site, and I have no need to defend it. But this is just a rhetorical aside for you, Layman, because all you have is air. I'd still like to see any numbers on China, both before - and- after numbers. Which you don't have, and thus have no case.

Michael

Michael
 
 

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