Is OnlySky an Example of Systemic Racism?

Over at the new atheist website, OnlySky, we find a list of 15 different authors who will be posting there.  Knowing how several of them are woke and concerned about systemic racism, I used google to determine (the best I could) the ethnic identities and sex of the authors to estimate levels of inclusion.  Here are the results:

Jonathan Burrello  – white man

Captain Cassidy – white woman

Neil Carter – white man

ML Clark- white woman

Barry Duke – white man

Andrew Hall – white man

Jeana Jorgensen – white woman

Adam Lee – white man

Jack Matirko – white man

J.H. McKenna – white man

Hemant Mehta – non-white man

Jonathan Pearce – white man

Bob Seidensticker – white man

Rick Snedeker – white man

Andrew Spitznas – white man

Wow.  15 authors and 14/15 (93.34 %) are white.  Isn’t this the classic pattern of evidence used to establish the existence of systemic racism?  Also, only 3/15 (20%) are female.  Would that be systemic sexism in action?

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28 Responses to Is OnlySky an Example of Systemic Racism?

  1. apollyon911 says:

    Ah, but they are woke Whi)te liberals, so it’s ok. (but it’s not ‘ok to be White’

  2. ROFL. Oh my, the pure desperation of a Christian is wonderful to behold. The Christian’s deliberate choosing to bear false witness is such lovely evidence how useless Christianity isf and how much Christians don’t care about their god when they want to do something.

    Of course, our Christian will insist that he was “just” posing a question.

  3. Kevin says:

    Club hasn’t considered the possibility that maybe what is being mocked is the idea that simply because a group is mostly white men that it must therefore be inherently racist and sexist.

    Of course, she can only shriek about how bad Christians are. If anything, this is further evidence that atheism and rational thinking have no causal relationship.

  4. bluecat57 says:

    Hemant Mehta is American so by definition is racist.

  5. It’s only racism/sexism if the other side does it. It’s a power game in which the ends justify any and all means.

  6. TFBW says:

    The Christian’s deliberate choosing to bear false witness …

    Unless you can name the lie, this is a false accusation, and you are more or less accusing others of that which you are yourself guilty. So name the lie. Quote it, you pathological liar.

  7. Kevin says:

    Lying isn’t the only pathological behavior she exhibits. Anti-Christian bigotry, stalker behavior, horrendous hypocrisy, most likely a left-wing nutjob…this does not seem like a stable individual.

  8. Michael says:

    Club hasn’t considered the possibility that maybe what is being mocked is the idea that simply because a group is mostly white men that it must therefore be inherently racist and sexist.

    Indeed. As usual, Club lashes out furiously as a smokescreen for her inability to answer my two questions.

  9. Dhay says:

    Kevin > Club hasn’t considered the possibility that maybe what is being mocked is the idea that simply because a group is mostly white men that it must therefore be inherently racist and sexist.

    Let’s compare the fifteen self-identified atheist bloggers with Pew’s ‘The Religious Typology’ statistics for the ‘Solidly Seculars’ type:

    Demographically, Solidly Seculars stand out from every other typology group in several ways. They are … the only group in which a clear majority is male (65%). Non-Hispanic whites dominate: Nearly eight-in-ten Solidly Seculars are white, the largest proportion of any group, while only 2% are black, the smallest share of the groups.

    Self-identified atheists are overwhelmingly Solidly Seculars (86%)…

    https://www.pewforum.org/2018/08/29/the-religious-typology/

    I’d say a major reason why the fifteen self-identified atheist bloggers are unrepresentative of the US population is that 86% of self-identified atheists are unrepresentative of the US population.

    And at 4%, self-identified atheists are a tiny minority in the US population; one hardly expects such a tiny minority to be representative of the whole US population in its composition.

  10. Dhay says:

    > Wow. 15 authors and 14/15 (93.34 %) are white.

    And that one exception, Hemant Mehta, is a former Jain, so almost certainly of an Asian ethnicity.

    Last I knew, Asians were reckoned separately from Blacks.

    Wow. 15 authors and not a single Black author.

  11. SavedByGrace says:

    Also, they’re still riding the fumes of that turgid hippie anthem.

  12. TFBW says:

    It’s the world’s most popular secular hymn.

  13. TFBW says:

    Lest anyone think I’m being excessively rhetorical with the term “secular hymn”, Mehta himself acknowledges the existence of such things, and includes “Imagine” in the examples.

  14. Dhay says:

    OnlySky banner: “Our launch is scheduled for early January, 2022.”

    It’s now the 19th, which isn’t early January. The days pass and the dream fades.

  15. Michael says:

    The dream is alive. It’s alive:
    https://onlysky.media/

  16. Dhay says:

    Michael > The dream is alive. It’s alive:

    This morning I took a look at Hemant Mehta’s presence there, to see what brand new content he might have prepared ready for the launch. Although I spotted at least one new post, the bulk were identifiably old posts re-posted.

    The dream is alive, but evidently the days passed and the old dream got re-hashed.

    *

    It’s early days, we will have a better perspective later.

  17. pennywit says:

    I know you post this in mockery … but it does seem rather unfortunate that OpenSky doesn’t seem to include representatives from the developing world among its writing roster. Atheists do face more persecution from an openly religious regime than in the West, after all.

  18. TFBW says:

    Atheists do face more persecution from an openly religious regime than in the West, after all.

    If a supposedly pro-atheism organisation has more criticism for Christianity than Islam, then it’s not really pro-atheism; it’s just anti-Christian and too dishonest to be candid about it.

  19. Dhay says:

    I see that one of Hemant Mehta’s opening posts on his OnlySky site is his former Patheos site’s 14 December 2022, “Survey Says: A Record Number of Americans Have No Religious Affiliation”, repeated. Here’s a sample quote from it:

    In fact, Pew says, while it’s tough to measure if religion is an important part of people’s lives, their surveys show that only 41% of Americans feel that way today, compared to 56% back in 2007. (Those are not apples to apples comparisons, though, because they come from different types of surveys).

    https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/record-29-percent-americans-have-no-religious-affiliation/

    I also see there a post by Rick Snedeker, entitled “The darkly accurate prophecy of Carl Sagan”, which quotes Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World, now over a quarter of a century old:

    I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness …

    The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.

    https://onlysky.media/rsnedeker/carl-sagan-prophetic-u-s-science-religion-christianity-atheism-reason/

    To read and understand the Bible is a serious intellectual exercise. I find myself unsurprised that “the dumbing down of America” has been accompanied by a rise in the ‘Nones’.

  20. pennywit says:

    If a supposedly pro-atheism organisation has more criticism for Christianity than Islam, then it’s not really pro-atheism; it’s just anti-Christian and too dishonest to be candid about it.

    I quibble a little bit on the details of this. If an atheist lives in a majority-Christian nation and has experienced prejudice based on his atheism, then statistically his experience is most likely to be Christians. Which is precisely why a non-Western contributor would be valuable, or even essential, on a blog about atheism.

  21. TFBW says:

    Your “statistics” assume that prejudicial acts are evenly distributed. By the same logic, you would expect most acts of religiously-motivated terrorism in the US to be performed by Christians. Whatever: you don’t strike me as being particularly concerned about the honesty issue.

  22. Dhay says:

    My attention was drawn to another OnlySky article, namely Adam Lee’s September 2021 “The decline of religion: the bad news”. And drawn to the detached box quoting text – “In America…” – that the author evidently thinks is particularly important – it’s the only such box – and worthy of highlighting as the eye-catching the key message of the article’s key Section; thence to that Section:

    Evangelicals versus everybody

    In America, the political divide can best be summarized as white evangelical Protestants versus everybody else. …
    [Gets expanded on in the rest of the Section.]

    https://onlysky.media/daylightatheism/the-decline-of-religion-the-bad-news/

    I don’t know whether Lee thinks of himself as an exemplar of ‘Evidence and Reason’, but exemplar he certainly isn’t. Let’s see what Pew Research said in November 2021:

    Partisan polarization remains the dominant, seemingly unalterable condition of American politics. Republicans and Democrats agree on very little – and when they do, it often is in the shared belief that they have little in common.

    Yet the gulf that separates Republicans and Democrats sometimes obscures the divisions and diversity of views that exist within both partisan coalitions – and the fact that many Americans do not fit easily into either one.
    [Chart showing the 2021 political typology, nine Types are identified.]

    https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2021/11/09/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology-2/

    That’s the first page of that loooong multi-page Report. The Report’s Page “13. How the political typology groups view major issues” shows a series of typically wedge-shaped bar charts, thirty five of them, showing what percentage of each of the nine Types supports particular issues. What we see is that the ‘Faith and Flag Conservatives’ – typically White Evangelical – are sometimes at the high point of the wedge’s slope and the ‘Progressive Left’ – typically atheist or ‘None’ – at the low point of the wedge’s slope; and sometimes their relative positions are reversed.

    And in between the high and low points the wedges of percentage values of the mid-Types, the spectra of opinion and politics, generally vary fairly smoothly from the one extreme to the other. [**]

    https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2021/11/09/how-the-political-typology-groups-view-major-issues/

    That is, Lee’s confident assertion that “In America, the political divide can best be summarized as white evangelical Protestants versus everybody else” is definitely false.

    ( ** Where they look like they don’t, that’s generally an atefact of Pew choosing to present the bars for the Types in chart key order (ie the order in which the Types were first introduced) instead of ordering by value; since the presentation order is arbitrary, you can feel free to swap any anomalous peaks and valleys around to demonstrate to yourself that there still is a wedge-spectrum-continuum.)

    *

    Look again at those thirty five wedge-shaped bar charts. The ‘Faith and Flag Conservatives’ and ‘Progressive Left’ Types are each of them nearly invariably at the extremities.

    Any inference from ‘Faith and Flag Conservatives’ regularly being at one extreme to Lee’s overconfident “In America, the political divide can best be summarized as white evangelical Protestants versus everybody else”, should equally – and as validly (or invalidly!) – infer from the ‘Progressive Left’ being equally regularly at the other extreme that “In America, the political divide can best be summarized as the Progressive Left versus everybody else”.

    But what’s ‘Evidence and Reason’ when it would lead Lee (and others on the Progressive Left who are haters of White Evangelicals for their politics) to doubt his certainties?

  23. Dhay says:

    ^ While Lee is bashing White Evangelicals via the unsupported assertion of his subjective opinion – unsupportable assertion and opinion, on Pew’s evidence – Jerry Coyne’s 23 January 2022 “To the Democrats: How not to lose” treats the ‘Progressive Left’ as the problem, as do his two favoured pundits:

    The title above doesn’t refer to my advice, because I’m not a political pundit. Rather, it refers to the two articles below that I read in succession, finding their messages nearly identical. One is from a liberal and the other from a right-centrist, but they’re both concerned with an issue that we often discuss here: political division that hurts the Dems. …

    Teixeira makes five points about what we Democrats should be doing. In fact, all of his points, as well as Sullivan’s, boil down to this advice: stop catering to the extreme Left and start dealing with issues that really matter to the “average” American. That has also been the message of James Carville, though nobody seems to be listening. You can’t have your “Progressivism” and your electoral victories, too.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2022/01/23/to-the-democrats-how-not-to-lose/

    Which rather sounds like it boils down to a complaint that “In America, the political divide can best be summarized as the Progressive Left versus everybody else”.

  24. Dhay says:

    Sorry, please (mentally or otherwise) convert the second and third paragraphs, plus the link, into Quote format.

    I muzt consintate

  25. Dhay says:

    Hemant Mehta’s “Survey says: A record number of Americans have no religious affiliation” delights in the marked increase in the number of ‘Nones’, but evidently laments that there’s no discernible corresponding increase in ‘Atheists’ (or even in ‘Agnostics’):

    In case you’re wondering if these numbers mean there’s a rise in atheism, sorry to burst your bubble. Atheists are still about 4% of the population, as we have been for several years. Agnostics have been around 5% for a while now too. The rise in Secular Americans comes entirely from the “Nones” camp, which has jumped from 12% in 2007 to 20% today. [Table of Years vs %s] I’ll take it. It could be so much worse.
    [My emboldening — Dhay]

    https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/record-29-percent-americans-have-no-religious-affiliation/

    Why is Mehta saddened (“I’ll take it. It could be so much worse”) by the non-growth of atheism? It’s because he wants a larger atheist — read ‘Progressive Left’ — voting block to influence the Democrats to pursue Progressive Left policies:

    The next step, however, is converting those numbers into political power.

    Mehta’s hope for political power is vacuous; I’ll quote his next words to explain why that is:

    I mentioned earlier that the “Christian” catch-all term didn’t mean all that much, and I could say the same here. People with “no religion” are not monolithic in their views, at least compared to atheists, who are overwhelmingly aligned on the side of progressive politics.

    Not only are ‘Nones’ all over the political spectrum (and certainly not ‘Progressive Left’ in any numbers), they are far less politically committed, less politically active than White Evangelicals or the Progressive Left are. Converting the rise of the politically relatively indifferent Nones into Progressive Left political power is unlikely because it’s implausible:

    It doesn’t matter how large our numbers grow if we vote below our weight compared to conservative Christians.

    But Mehta fantasises on:

    It also means if Democrats want to court a reliable voting bloc, they need to play up their support for church/state separation, science education, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice, racial justice, comprehensive sex ed, reason-based legislation, etc. All those things Republicans and their Jesus-loving voters actively oppose.

    Funny, my last substantive post above quotes Jerry Coyne’s opinion that Democrats playing up their support for [the Progressive Left’s political agenda] would be — and already is — disastrous for their chances of gaining more power, or even for their chances of keeping what slim margin of power they currently have. To paraphrase Mehta: All those [the Progressive Left’s political agenda] are things that Mid-Political-Spectrum-Type voters actively oppose.

  26. Dhay says:

    Hemant Mehta delighted that “Survey says: A record number of Americans have no religious affiliation”, ie that the number of (affiliated) Christians has declined. Randomly browsing the Patheos site, I find that it’s not just US Christianity that’s in decline, I stumbled upon a blog post lamenting the (near-)extinction of Zen Buddhism:

    [Brief mention of ecology and extinctions.] There is another extinction taking place… It is the dying out of the Zen tradition in Japan, which has been happening for some time already, but has accelerated very much in recent years, and has now become an undeniable reality during the pandemic. Right now in the entire Soto School there are only 4 monasteries with more than 10 monks. If you don’t know much about Zen in Japan, I can assure you that it is a shocking number.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen/2021/11/the-end-of-zen-in-japan.html

    How about Rinzai Zen? No better, apparently:

    (4) As each of the sects of the Rinzai School is governed separately, it is more difficult to get information without calling each of the over 40 senmon sodos. The numbers in them tend to be more evenly spread, as temples belonging to each sect are sending their monks for training to the sodo of their sect, unlike in the Soto School, where over 50% are gathered in Eihei-ji. But to briefly illustrate, Myoshin-ji presently has 12 monks, Ryutaku-ji has 5 monks, and Shogen-ji has 9.

    Is Zen – Soto Zen, at any rate, though from the above we can assume Rinzai Zen will be very similar – is Zen thriving in the West? (And can it be re-imported back into Japan from the West?) Apparently not:

    Some people seem to think that the sapling of this old dying tree was already transplanted to new soil and is growing strong. But is it? Most of the older Zen centers in the West have fewer students than at the time of their founding teacher. Many western Zen students are baby boomers, and there are not as many young people who choose to practice Zen. Some teachers are concerned that in Western lineages Dharma transmission has lost its meaning, that becoming a Zen teacher is just a career path in some cases, and that students don’t sit zazen and sesshin as much as they did back in the early days. This sounds eerily similar to the observations made about the state of Zen in Japan, as if in the West we have repeated the cycle that happened in Japan over 800 years in less than 80.

    I rather think that we can assume that in the West, Tibetan Buddhism (and Buddhism in general, excepting perhaps the Buddhism of immigrants) suffers from the same problem of baby-boomers dying or losing interest faster than youngsters become interested.

    I’m sure that Bodhisattva Sam Harris is struggling mightily to encourage his podcast clients to take up Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen practice, or the watered down, anaemic, Westernised, de-Tibetanised version he seems to be pushing. But I rather think he is wasting his time.

    *

    Funny how Mehta delights in the decline in the number of active Christians, yet has not a word about the (near-)extinction of Zen Buddhism. I hypothesise that’s because US Zen Buddhists are a) few and, from what I’ve read elsewhere, b) probably mostly politically Liberal Left types.

  27. Dhay says:

    > Is OnlySky an Example of Systemic Racism Indifference to OnlySky’s Podcasters?

    There’s an interesting sidebar to ML Clark’s 18 February 2022 post entitled and subtitled, “Are you listening? What we talk about when we talk about podcasts: Human Story, Global Humanist Shoptalk, and why this kind of conversation matters”

    Follow Topics:
    Captain Cassidy

    0 Followers
    Dale McGowan
    0 Followers
    deconversion
    2 Followers
    George Hrab
    0 Followers
    global humanist shoptalk
    0 Followers
    Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist)
    0 Followers
    Human Story
    0 Followers
    Leighann Lord
    0 Followers
    Podcast
    0 Followers
    Secular Community
    0 Followers
    the discourse
    0 Followers

    Alongside each name is a “+ Follow” button, so it looks like this is a convenient place (additional to the podcasters’ own podcasts) to click, click, click to to follow a favoured podcaster; or several; or all of them.

    https://onlysky.media/mclark/are-you-listening-what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-podcasts/

    Hmmm, eleven podcaster names or handles, but only two followers between the lot; ten have zero followers.

    Is OnlySky an example of systemic indifference to OnlySky’s podcasters?

  28. Dhay says:

    In his 28 February 2022 OnlySky post entitled and subtitled, “In 2021, atheists made up only 0.1% of the federal prison population: Atheists and Humanists are all-but-absent in federal prison, according to new data obtained exclusively by OnlySky”, Hemant Mehta updates and reprises the claims he made in his 16 July 2013 “What Percentage of Prisoners are Atheists? It’s a Lot Smaller Than We Ever Imagined.” So I will update and reprise my critique – originally in two responses to Jim- in December 2019 – of Mehta’s claims.

    Those responses, which flesh out what I’ll add below, were:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/atheism-and-antinatalism/#comment-34302
    and
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/atheism-and-antinatalism/#comment-34309

    Once again, I can praise Mehta’s making his data, calculation results and reasoning fully available to his readers, also his assessing how reliable the figures might or might not be and his caution about the limitations of his conclusions.

    https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/in-2021-atheists-made-up-only-0-1-of-the-federal-prison-population/

    As before, I’ll provide Mehta’s data table in a more easily understood layout, adding in the percentage of the federal prison – note that the figures don’t include state prisons – population:

    Religion………….No.………….% of Total….% Change in % of Total

    Atheist and Probably Atheist
    Atheist……………143……………….0.103%…………….+ 39%
    Humanist…..…….63……………….0.045%….n/a (new category since 2015, replaces “Science”)
    …………….………..206……………….0.148%……………+ 82%

    Not Known
    No Prefer………..37,447……….….26.9%……………. + 58%
    Unknown………….4,242…………..3.05%……………. – 11%
    .………………………41,689………….30.0%…………….. + 47%

    Christian
    Adventist………….275…………..….0.20%……………. – 39%
    Catholic……….22,991…………….16.54%……………. – 31%
    Ch Christ………..1,743………………1.25%……………. – 18%
    Jehovah…….………763………………0.55%……………. – 21%
    Mormon….………..455………………0.33%……………. + 14%
    Non-Trin…….……..316………………0.23%……………. + 34%
    Orthodox…………..352………………0.25%……………. + 13%
    Pentecost………..….18………………0.01%……………. – 81%
    Protestant…….31,894…………….22.94%……………. – 20%
    ……….…………….58,807……………..42.3%……………. – 25%

    Other Religions
    Amer Ind….….4,506…………………3.24%…………… + 3%
    Buddhist….…..1,295…………………0.93%……………. – 7%
    Hindu…… ……….248…………………0.18%…………… + 23%
    Jewish……. …..3,185…………………2.29%…………… + 32%
    Messianic…….2,426…………………1.75%…………… +123%
    Moorish…… …1,630…………………1.17%…………… + 4%
    Muslim………11,316…………………8.14%…………… + 47%
    Nation…………1,815…………………1.31%……………. – 26%
    Other…………..2,512…………………1.81%……………. – 40%
    Pagan………….3,668……….…………2.64%…………… + 32%
    Rasta…………..2,801………….………2.02%…………… + 5%
    Santeria……..2,858……………….…2.06%……………. + 71%
    Sikh………… ………40………………….0.03%……………. – 15%
    …………..……..38,300………..……….27.6%…………… + 18%

    ………….…….139,002………………….100%……………. – 36%

    The federal prison population has decreased markedly (down 36%) since 2013. You would expect all religious groups (and atheists) to have likewise decreased 36% and to still be at or near their 2013 proportions in 2021; but, interestingly, they are not. Mehta helpfully provides a link to Pew Research’s 2021 figures for the proportions of different religious groups in the US population.

    I note that at 42.3% of prisoners in 2021, compared with the 63% in the US adult population, there’s only two-thirds (67%) the number of Christians in the US federal prison population that you’d expect proportionally. That is, Christians are very under-represented in the federal prison population.

    Because Black Americans are both more likely to be Christian and more likely to end up in prison, you would expect Christians to be, as a conseqence, over-represented; which makes the strong under-representation actually found all the more remarkable.

    And Christians are increasingly under-represented in federal prisons: in 2013 the proportion of Christians in federal prisons was then four-fifths (79% – see first link) of the proportion of Christians in all US Adults, but it’s only two-thirds (67%) now. That 79% to 67% is a nearly 25% drop.

    How about atheists? Their absolute numbers declined, but far less than the prison population did, so their proportion rose from 0.074% to 0.103% – that’s a 39% rise. Adding in the Humanists (formerly I added in ‘Science’), the absolute numbers have gone up from 178 to 206, that’s an 82% rise in those who are ‘Atheist and Probably Atheist’.

    Mehta kept very quiet about what I have revealed in my last three paragraphs, namely Christians markedly decreasing as a proportion of prisoners, Atheists and Probably Atheists markedly increasing. If Mehta could possibly crow about Christians being over-represented in the ranks of criminals, that would be too wonderful a propaganda coup to not look for, or to overlook; so I’m sure he’s looked and that he knows the unwelcome truth.

    *

    The elephant in the room is whether that tiny figure (absolute and as a proportion) for the number of atheists in the prison population is correct. There’s 206 prisoners openly atheist or Humanist, a tiny 0.148%, but there’s another (27%) who are ‘No Prefer[ence]’ (37,447) and 4,242 (3%) who are ‘Unknown’ (refused to disclose?), who together add up to a massive 30% of the prisoners.

    The other prisoners – some of them violent – and the prison guards, also the parole board on whose approval, crucially, a prisoner’s earliest release depends, these will all be majority religious. Atheists are famously more likely than religious people to be considered immoral, likely to commit crimes (and presumably more likely to re-offend!) – atheists themselves think this of atheists (see Phil Zuckerman’s Salon article.) Religious people get opportunities to gather for worship in their groups (and hence to both get out of their cells and to socialise), an opportunity denied to atheists – Humanists do have that opportunity, but with just 63 of them spread, usually in ones and twos between 128 prisons (if I have counted correctly) gathering with other Humanists is hardly an attractive social option except at the one prison where there’s 13 of them (possibly, it’s a blurred pdf.) Finally, Mehta indirectly describes those who are openly atheists as standing out like a sore thumb in prison:

    And when finding an openly nonreligious inmate in prison becomes as tough as finding a needle in a haystack, it’s much harder for Christian apologists and pastors to argue that faith is necessary to keep people on a righteous path.

    (Actually, the figures Mehta provides show that the proportion of Christians in prisons is just two-thirds of their proportion in the US population. On Mehta’s evidence, for many Christians their Christian faith does “keep people on a righteous path.”)

    There’s a great big 30% of the prison population that we know nothing about – we can’t assume these people are atheists or Christian or anything else. It needs only a relatively small portion of that 30% to be heads-down atheists for atheists to be not under-represented in the US Federal Prison population, not 1:1 equally represented in the prison population, but over-represented – or perhaps even highly over-represented. Unlike religious people, there are good reasons why atheists would want to be inconspicuous in prisons and hence would want not to self-identify publicly as “Atheist”.

    Given those disadvantages in prison of being openly an atheist or similar, it’s almost a wonder that any prisoners have declared themslves to be such, it’s far, far easier to fit if you give a fudge answer such as ‘No Preference’ or leave it blank; and be a covert atheist.

    I’ll finish as I finished first time round: it’s not that I think I have proved that the proportion of atheists in prisons is much higher than Mehta calculates and that atheists are over-represented. Nor do I think that Mehta has proved the proportion is his headline 0.1% and that atheists are very much under-represented in prison (143, or 206 if Humanists are added in) is just the number who self-identified publicly as “Atheist”.) Based on Mehta’s data I have no way of reaching a reliable figure for the proportion of actual atheists in the prison population.

    And nor has Mehta, despite his confident claim it’s 0.1% (0.15% adding Humanists.) The implausibility of Mehta’s headline 0.1% figure is my main point.

    My secondary point is that Christians are very, very under-represented in the prison population.

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