Religion Sneaks Into Your Daily Life Whether You Like it or Not

As someone who isn’t particularly religious, I find polls about the religiosity of Americans to be fascinating. Especially so because I live in the midwest, where “Do I know you from church?” is an appropriate pickup line. True story.

Gallup has recently released another of these polls, and not much has changed since last year. Almost 30 percent of respondents said that religion isn’t important to them and didn’t play a big role in their daily lives. That’s roughly what it’s been since 2008 when Gallup started keeping track. The percentage who are very and somewhat religious also didn’t change much.

The Atlantic had a write up of the poll, and the author seemed surprised that “only” a third of respondents said that religion played little or no role in their lives. I’m surprised the number was that high.

Not because I think atheists/agnostics/”nones” are waning, but because religion permeates everything.

Think about it. There was just a high-profile debate between my childhood hero Bill Nye and purveyor of malarkey Ken Ham over whether “creation science” (i.e., religious dogma pretending to be substantive science) is a viable alternate to the theory of evolution. (In case you were wondering, it really, truly isn’t.) But this isn’t isolated to entertaining intellectual discussions. It’s playing out in statehouses across the country. A one sentence bill in South Dakota would allow the teaching of creationism in public schools. Luckily, that bill was killed.

But the issue isn’t dead elsewhere. The Virginia legislature is considering a bill that would “explore controversial scientific topics,” that is, a free pass to contradict scientific facts like evolution and climate change. A similar bill was enacted in Tennessee in 2012 and in Louisiana in 2008. (The latter is in the middle of a legal battle.) And while we’re at it, let’s add Colorado to that list. And Missouri. And Oklahoma. There is nothing intellectually honest about these pieces of legislation. They are all attempts to insert a Biblical telling of the origin of life into science classrooms.

This is bad, but it’s not all. Recently a Kansas House of Representatives panel approved a bill that would allow for the discrimination against LGBT people, as long as the people doing the discriminating really believed it. Apparently, this is what passes for religious liberty.

The bill goes further than most, giving not only government employees but also private citizens the right to refuse any service to LGBT people. If this passes, government officials and private employers would not have to recognize any valid marriage, civil union, domestic partnership or other similar arrangement. Because I guess if you close your eyes tight and wish really hard, everyone will just magically become a good, hetero, Christian soldier.

And do I even need to mention the extensive attacks on reproductive rights? According to NPR, 22 states restricted abortion access in 2013. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback even went out of his way to write “JESUS + Mary“ on a page of notes about an anti-choice bill.

Do you see now what I mean when I say that religion permeates everything? It affects a gay couple’s rights to have their relationship recognized. It affects a child’s education and ability to compete on the competitive world stage. It affects a woman’s right to control her body.

I’m jealous of those atheists/agnostics/”nones” who say religion has little or no effect on their lives. Or maybe we shouldn’t be conflating a disbelief in God and not feeling religion’s influence. Regardless of beliefs, it’s clear that religion forces itself into the lives of people who would rather it stay out.

Photo Credit: Ian Sane


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Suzana Megles
Suzana Megles3 years ago

I am just responding to the title which say that religion sneaks into your life whether you like it or not. I like it! 83 years ago my Slovak parents took me to a Catholic Byzantine Church and had me baptized. I was also confirmed at the same time - that is part of the Byzantine culture. I thank them so much because my belief in a loving God has sustained me through thick and thin through all these years. I feel incredibly blessed and I'm sorry for anyone who feels that a belief in an all loving God can ever be looked upon as an intrusion. And my belief in a loving God has made me look upon His creation with love and respect - so much so that I do all I can to fight cruelty to animals. Yes, I care about cruelty to people, but thank God, none of them are raised in cages, crates, and stifling factory farms.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm4 years ago

I dodnt know if Gerald thinks he is agreeing with the article or disagreeing. He shoots off in so many directions its hard to tell what his point is.

Michael T.
Michael T4 years ago

@Gerald sputters further: Have you experienced or witnessed the bullying of MD's on family members to withhold nourishment??? There certainly should be laws...

Based on that assessment your claims of “bullying MD’s” makes everyone wonder just what kinds of studies you have personally done to determine that the number of bullying MD’s push for withholding nourishment is some astronomical number. This statement is likely due to your personal experiences with a few, or through hearsay.

Your claim lacks substance as usual.

Michael T.
Michael T4 years ago

@Gerald sputters: LOL most hospitals were built by faith groups.

Gerald, that makes no difference. Whether it should have been defined as many or whether it is most it makes no difference, religion has no place in determining treatment of its patients in cruel ways, and should be prosecuted for doing so in a democratic republic where faith has the last word over right and wrong. You laugh as you talk about how this is another example of how religion sticks its finger in where it has no right to. You are basically saying too bad, faith based organizations have the right to infringe on people’s rights. It further defends the claim of this article, and does little to defend your claim that religion/faith are good and don’t sneak into your life whether you want it or not. I still think you lack the intellectual processes necessary to understand how your responses do not defend against the articles claims.

You see your job in disagreeing is to prove that religion doesn’t interfere with everyone in ways that are wrong. Instead you end up posting comments that prove what this article is saying in the first place. That you can’t see that makes your comment redundant.

Gerald L.
Gerald L4 years ago

@ Suba G. quote: There certainly should be laws against such cruelties performed in the name of religion (which has no business in healthcare in the first place)

LOL most hospitals were built by faith groups

Godess all seeing & hearing Suba were you there? (who already requested to die.) Not clear from the story, but it sounds like the pro-life nut job just wanted to prolong the suffering against the wishes of the patient & her family, and against the better judgment of other physicians.

Have you experienced or witnessed the bullying of MD's on family members to withhold nourishment???

There certainly should be laws...

Michael T.
Michael T4 years ago

Gerald I note that you post basically useless material

that does little to defend your position.

I further note you do not reply in any way useful to the data and facts that many people have

posted here giving evidence that religion is intrusive and useless to humanity

in so many ways it is impossible to count.

Gerald L.
Gerald L4 years ago

Physician ostracized after refusing to withhold food and water from cancer patient

In 2007 while practicing on the East Coast, the physician son of a patient on my Neurologic ICU service, asked me whether I was one of those "pro-life whackos" who was prepared to affirm that food and water were mandatory in his mother. I did affirm my position, signed off of the case when the primary and her oncologist acquiesced to euthanize her, and suffered as the medical community turned to exclude me. I am grieved by this woman's demise owing to the heartless lock-step of utilitarianism. Yes, she would have died anyway, but the way she died was undignified for a hamster much less a mother, a wife, a woman. --Laura Reilly, MD

Note the comparison to a hamster, there are laws against animal cruelty and neglect. Follow the money!

Michael T.
Michael T4 years ago


A growing number of religious health professions who demand to keep their jobs without fully doing their jobs

• Religious allied health professionals second guessing doctors’ orders and patient requests

• A powerful lobby undermining anti-discrimination laws that protect queers and females

• A powerful lobby advocating exemptions to living wage laws and worker rights

• Soaring public health costs as a consequence of religious meddling in end of life and beginning of life decisions

• Suffering unto death aka “redemptive suffering” for people who would prefer to manage their own process and die with dignity

Michael T.
Michael T4 years ago

Let’s be clear why this creates an irreconcilable conflict of interest. A medical system with religious authorities and corporations at the top means the following:

• Patients kept in ignorance about the full range of medically appropriate treatments if some of these are judged to violate the theology of the provider or institution

• Providers who don’t get continuing education about medical advances that a religious hierarchy disapproves

• Pharmacies that don’t stock drugs and devices that religious owners disapprove of

• Public health dollars used to promote specific religious beliefs and the notion that “faith” is a reasonable way of determining what medical care should be provided

• A medical culture that denies the very methods of science: evidence, hypothesis testing, and accountability

• Religious institutions or individual believers given a religious veto over the deeply personal medical decisions of individual patients

• Couples denied the means to time their childbearing, which leaves more families mired in poverty

• Women denied miscarriage management or termination of pregnancy gone wrong

• Less prenatal diagnosis and a greater percent of children born with birth defects

• Families stripped of decision making power after tragic accidents because “every life is sacred”