Are there really more Christians in jail per capita than atheists? (USA)

(by Alfalfa Henry)

What does the available evidence really say? Some Atheists cite the 2012 Pew Forums survey of religion of prisoners. Or a piece of "evidence" that is a photocopy from a guy named RS who received this report from a person who can't even be verified as ever working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Additionally, some atheist apologists neglect to show that this Pew survey is not taken and answered by prisoners themselves, but is asked of prison chaplains. Furthermore the atheist reasoning and bias collapses more when it becomes clear that the report asks specifically, "What is the estimated percentage of RELIGIONS of the different groups whom these chaplains serve; it does not ask whom they believe to be atheist or agnostic or irreligious. Furthermore one must ask themselves, 'how many atheists are really going to see the chaplain?' Typically atheists have a fit if you state atheism is a religion or that atheists act religious. They will vehemently deny it giving you zingy one liners like ' atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color?'

The water is further muddied because you can never get a coherent definition of 'Atheist' from atheists.

There are lots of men who are recognizably atheist or agnostic, they simply don’t say it. They show up on surveys as “no religion” or "irreligious" or “secular.” They act and behave atheistic, they don’t attend church services, and they have no beliefs in the supernatural, and claim no allegiance to any denomination or religious school of thought. They merely do not call themselves atheist or agnostic. And there is another problem as found by the Seventh District court of the United States. And as stated above in the U.S. the government cannot compel you to state your religion or for this purpose your irreligion. Upon intake prisoners are asked to volunteer such information but even then these forms do not have a spot for atheists or agnostics, so how can they be properly measured.

In the case of Kaufman J vs State of Wisconsin, Khorasanee (2013) stated:

The Seventh Circuit noted that the only way to know how many prisoners is atheist is to conduct a survey, or to simply add a box for "Atheist" in the religious preference form. With more and more prisoners making claims of Atheism, it may be in the prison system's best interest to update their forms to reflect current case law. Having redundant cases litigating the same issues over and over doesn't help anyone, and is a massive waste of tax dollars.

In Prison, Atheism is a Religion

So needless to say we cannot get a real per capita percentage of atheist agnostics in U.S. federal prisons. And then consider that atheists/agnostics know that if they participate in a prison sponsored religious program they can get a shorter sentence from the parole board. Why would they want a big atheist/agnostic on their record that they know will be reviewed by the parole board? In light of this information we can safely say that there is serious doubts on the claim by atheist that only .02 percent of the federal prison population is atheist agnostic.



Khorasanne, G. (2013, August 19). In Prison, Atheism Is a Religion and Gets the Same

Protections. Retrieved January 15, 2016, from


Religion in Prisons – A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains. (2012, March 22). Retrieved

January 15, 2016, from