Praying Atheists – Washington Post
By Michelle Boorstein — 24 June 2013
New research on atheists by the Pew Research Center shows a range of beliefs. Eighteen percent of atheists say religion has some importance in their life, 26 percent say they are spiritual or religious and 14 percent believe in “God or a universal spirit.” Of all Americans who say they don’t believe in God — not all call themselves “atheists” — 12 percent say they pray.
Atheists deny religion’s claim of a supernatural god but are starting to look more closely at the “very real effect” that practices such as going to church, prayer and observance of a Sabbath have on the lives of the religious, said Paul Fidalgo, a spokesman for the secular advocacy group the Center for Inquiry. “That’s a big hole in atheist life,” he said. “Some atheists are saying, ‘Let’s fill it.’ Others are saying, ‘Let’s not.’ ”
Gordon Melton, a historian of new American religions, said that it’s only been in the past decade that atheists have become organized and the range of their views has therefore become more known. Sociologists have also just begun asking more complex questions about faith to a wider range of respondents.