Take the First-Ever Secular Communities Survey

The Secular Communities Survey, the largest-ever study of the community life of secular and nonreligious people in the United States, opens today, March 1st, and will remain open until April 11th. If you’re part of a secular community, it’s important that you participate. You can take the survey here.

There are about 1,400 local communities for nonbelievers in the United States, but few researchers have considered them when thinking about community life. As recent elections have shown, understanding the importance of organized secularism in politics and the power of the nonreligious vote is key to reshaping American elections. At a time when more Americans than ever identify as having no religion, it is imperative to include them in surveys interested in civic engagement, prosocial values, and politics. The Secular Communities Survey meets this need.

The Secular Communities Survey is interested in secular, atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, and nonreligious Americans. We want to understand their worldviews, their politics, the communities they form, and how they view religion. We also want to understand secular people’s values and the ways they try to live by them. Because this survey is running during a pandemic, it also asks about COVID-19’s effects on secular community life. Most importantly, the researchers hope to understand the nuanced differences among secular and nonreligious people by trying to understand them on their terms.

If you’re a member of a secular community—including any atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, or other secular groups—the researchers hope that you’ll participate in the survey and that you’ll encourage others in your community to participate, too. You could be a member of a national organization like the American Humanist Association, attend the meetings of an affiliate group, or participate in a Facebook, Meetup, or other local groups for secular people or religious humanists.

The survey should take about 15-20 minutes to complete. All survey responses are anonymous. No names or contact information will be recorded in research materials unless a respondent provides them. No survey respondent will be identified in any publications or other research material. More information can be found on the survey website’s FAQ page.

In addition to contributing to the understanding of community life in the United States, the Secular Communities Survey will help members of these communities gain a broader and deeper understanding of themselves. To accomplish this, survey creators are working with secular organizations throughout the country to distribute results back to the communities studied.

They’ll present their findings in academic forums, such as conferences and journals. Summaries will also be published in newsletters, blogs, and other publications of established secular organizations, such as AHA’s Humanist magazine.

The project is led by three researchers with extensive experience studying secular people. Joseph Blankholm, Ph.D., is a professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on atheism, secularism, and secular people. Juhem Navarro-Rivera, Ph.D., is a political scientist, writer, public speaker, and research consultant. He is the Political Research Director and Managing Partner at Socioanalitica Research, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Humanist Studies, and a board member of the American Humanist Association. Dusty Hoesly, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on minority religions and secularism in the U.S.

The researchers are grateful for your participation and your help, and are happy to answer any questions if you have them. Please contact them by emailing secular.survey@hfa.ucsb.edu.  They’re also on Twitter (@SecularSurvey) and Facebook.