The Friendly Atheist:
Earlier this month, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Bureau of Prisons asking them about the religious makeup of prisoners. Over the weekend, to my surprise, I received a response.
Not only did they have the information, they gave me a faith-by-faith breakdown.
So… what do we learn from that information?
Of the prisoners willing to give their religious affiliations (and that’s an important caveat), atheists make up 0.07% of the prison population.
Not even the 0.2% we’ve been using for so long.
Atheists constitute an even smaller percentage of the prison population than we ever imagined. (That includes prisoners whose affiliations were unknown. If I used Golumbaski’s method, the number would be 0.09%.)
In addition to that, Protestants make up 28.7% of the prison population; Catholics, 24%; Muslims, 5.5%; American Indians, 3.1%.
Okay now of course we all know that there is such a thing as prison conversion, so some of the people identified as one religion or another may have come in unaffiliated or without muhc religious instruction to speak of.
However I will go on record as saying that I don't believe that too many of those converted started out as Atheists, for the simple fact that being an Atheist usually requires a great deal of research and self evaluation.
It is not something that a person would casually identify themselves as, esepcially in America.
So while I am not willing to say that it never happens that an Atheist is converted to religion in prison, I am fairly confident that it is not the most common of conversions to occur.
Having said that I would simply add that with the number of Atheists being so incredibly low it would seem to indicate that either there are fewer Atheists breaking the law than those who claim to be religious, regardless of which religion, or that there are just as many Atheists breaking the law, but they are too intelligent to get caught.
I tend to think that it is the first.
And remember these are people who do the right thing, NOT for fear of punishment of eternal damnation, but because doing the right thing, is the right thing to do.
Immoral minority my ass!