While many childfree people are Christian and celebrate Christmas, the flip side deserves attention too. Plenty of people with no children by choice don’t celebrate Christmas in the traditional way –or at all. They may do some of what a lot of people do — have a tree, decorate, gather with and give gifts to family and loved ones, but plenty would say they don’t celebrate the holiday first and foremost as the birthday of Jesus. Why? Because they are atheist or agnostic. What do we know about the numbers of childfree atheists and agnostics?
There sure is a lack of hard statistics here. One of the few surveys ever formally done happened over 30 years ago. The National Alliance of Non-Parents (which turned to the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood) conducted a survey of a random sample of their members, and of the 334 who responded, the mean age was 31, and 49% reported they were either atheist or agnostic. That was a sizable percentage. But what we don’t know is if this can be reasonably extrapolated to the percentages of the childfree population as a whole at that time.
I have not found many other sound studies that with look at childfree and religious affiliation, if any. Prior to 2000 there were some trend studies that indicated the childfree “tended” to be less religious, but that does not tell us much. However, these day I do notice a growing amount of web action on childfree atheist and agnostic topics and sites.
One interesting site is “Selfish Heathens” which is designed for liberal childfree atheists and agnostics. You see more out there about atheism as a potential movement in our society. Last summer ABC did a provocative piece on whether atheism is a growing positive force in America. But are those with no children by choice more likely to be atheist or agnostic?
I can only tell you what I have seen over ten years engaging with hundreds of childfree. I have encountered more childfree that consider themselves christian, but not necessarily practicing christians. For example, they don’t necessarily go to church regularly or on Christmas, but have christian beliefs. The second most include people who subscribe to other major religions including judiasm, hinduism and buddhism.
Then I would say I encounter serious practicing christians and their opposite–people who describe themselves as nonreligious–atheist or agnostic. Just because I have not run into more atheist or agnostics does not mean they have not been there all along–maybe they are just becoming more vocal about their beliefs in this regard. Or maybe this just means I am talking to more of them these days!
In any case, they are the ones that will do Christmas as just another day they get off as part of our society’s christian-oriented calendar.
To childfree people reading this and who are willing to share, how would you describe your religion, spirituality, or the like?