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Unfortunately when I heard this piece on The Takeaway John Hockenberry reiterated a rather plain misrepresentation of the Pew research findings in a way I've encountered repeatedly. The implication is that the group called "nones" represent atheists when it merely is a rather crude and artificial construction containing atheists, agnostics, people who have no position and even people who don't belong in any particular category of denomination but most of whom, never the less, are religious. In Pew's figures, plainly stated in both the text and in the graphs that Pew, atheists are the smallest component of "nones" at 2.4%, agonstics are 3.3% "noting in particular" entirely outstrips atheists by coming in at 13.9% of the "unaffiliated". Even looking at the percentage in growth of the overall percentage, atheists show a growth of .8%, also a smaller increase than either agnostics or "nothing in particular". That .8% is smaller than the increase in the "other faith" among the larger group which is affiliated with a religious group, which starts out much larger and shows a 2% increase in the survey. Of all of the groups which show any increase, atheists are the smallest and show the smallest percentage of increase, yet this Pew analysis is always presented as if it showed enormous increases for atheism when the survey figures, even when cited in those claims, shows anything but that.

Being someone who Pew would include in that group, being something of a freelance monotheist-universalist, I really take offense at being put in a category which I don't belong to for the benefit of an ideological position I don't agree with. It is done so often by people citing the Pew results that it is either a rather lazy repetition of a previous misrepresentation without actually reading the Pew analysis or it is intentional. Whatever it is, it is bad journalistic practice to not have actually understood what was cited.