Are there really more Christians in jail per capita than atheists? (England, Wales)
(by Alfalfa Henry)
Some atheists love to cite how atheists make up a small and disproportionate fraction of the prisoners in U.S. prisons. However, we know that upon intake, when given a survey of their religions, there is no spot (on the survey) for an atheist or agnostic to check.
This was expressed (in the footnotes of the case) and reaffirmed by the Seventh U.S. District Court in its decision on this case: James J. Kaufman v. Jeffrey Pugh Warden.
Khorasanee (2013) stated:
The very nature of determining a prisoner’s religion depends on what box he checks when they are admitted--there is no box for atheism. Atheism is generally an "other" category and is written in. The prison characterizes all "other" choices that don't fall within one of the seven recognized umbrella groups as "No Preference." Therefore, the state cannot claim with certainty that only two people expressed an interest in atheism.
Kaufman and Warden (2013) showed that in general, atheists constitute between seven and 14% of the population. They further noted that the percentages of inmates who claimed affiliations such as "Jewish" or "pagan" were very small--much smaller than the 11% of inmates claiming no religion or preference. So clearly the court recognized that there were more atheists/agnostics in prison than the .02 percent figure that is quoted by atheists. So where can we go to get a realistic figure for the real percentage of atheists/agnostics in a prison population? A place where they actually make a prisoner state their faith or if they are atheist/irreligious.
The BRIN 2010 report of Religion in British Prisons classified and asked the faith of every inmate or lack of it. Field (2011) stated:
32% of prisoners in England and Wales on 30 June 2010 professed no religion, the identical figure to March 2000, although the prison population had increased by 30% during the course of the decade. The proportion of irreligious did not vary greatly by gender, but it did by ethnicity, ranging from 4% for Asians to 38% for whites. Age also made a difference, the number falling to 18% for prisoners aged 60 and over and peaking at 44% for the 15-17s.
The number of Britons that claimed no religion was 15.1 percent in the national survey of the general population and 32% in prison (Field, 2011). Again these people are not religious; they cannot be called theists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus or any other religious category. They are for all purposes atheists. They do not believe in the supernatural, attend church or religious ceremonies. They do not identify with any group and are self-proclaimed as irreligious. It seems that in any poll where there are numbers for the percentage of worldwide atheists, they always want to claim the seculars and irreligious to bolster their false claim that atheism is growing worldwide then they need to claim them in such statistics that show them in a negative light as well. These people are for all purpose atheists...
Field, C. (2011, July 23). Religion of Prisoners – England and Wales, 2010. Retrieved January 15,
Kaufman, J., & Warden, J. (2013). In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit.
Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-
Khorasanee, G. (2013, August 19). In Prison, Atheism Is a Religion and Gets the Same Protections.
Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://blogs.findlaw.com/seventh_circuit/2013/08/in-