Some Atheists and Agnostics Say That They Pray

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Do atheists and agnostics pray? It seems that some of them do. Pew Research Forum has conducted a few studies over the last several years that have produced some interesting statistics.

One study says that 6% of atheists and agnostics pray daily (1), whereas another puts it at 11% of atheists and agnostics who pray weekly and monthly (2). And with only atheists themselves considered Pew found that 3% said that they pray (3). According to these studies a certain number of atheists and agnostics do engage in the religious ritual of prayer (although it is a minority). Christine Wicker of Psychology Today writes,

“Do atheists and agnostics pray? Yes, indeed. Quite a bit it turns out. Six percent of them pray every day, we’re told by the Pew Research Center. And 11 percent pray weekly or monthly” (4).

Going on this statistical information one finds that of the agnostics and atheists in America (7.1% = 22 641 899), 2 490 608 of them pray week or monthly. If 3% of atheists pray then that works out to 296 577 doing so daily. Remember that this is only the number of atheists who admit to praying, and it is entirely possible that some will not admit that they do since it is seen, by both themselves and others, as inconsistent with an atheistic view of the universe. It is not unheard of for some atheists to criticize those who pray as not really being atheists since atheists don’t believe in God. It is also possible that others desire to pray but decide not to.

There are a number of reasons why some atheists pray. Some do so out of out of desperation (5), and others because of awe and transcendence brought on by comprehending the universe (6). There are even secular chaplains popping up at some American universities (7). There is also a growth in atheist churches which seem to wish to emulate their theistic brothers and sisters (8).


1. Jeffrey, T. 2012. Pew: 6% Percent of Atheists and Agnostics Pray Every Day. Available.

2. Lugo, L., Cooperman, A., Funk, C., Smith, G., O’Connel, E. & Stencel, S. 2012. “Nones” on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation. Available.

3. Lips, M. 2016. 10 facts about atheists. Available.

4. Wicker, C. 2013. Do Atheists Pray? Available.

5. Boorstein, M. 2013. Some nonbelievers still find solace in prayer. Available.

6. Wicker, C. 2013. Ibid.

7. Boorstein, M. 2013. Ibid.

8. Wheeler, B. 2013. What happens at an atheist church? Available.




  1. I’ve been wondering for some time why and how anyone can choose not to believe in a supreme, transcendent creator and eternal continuation of life, and still have peace and joy. If it were true that there is nothing after this life, then there is no hope or joy to be had, because it’s literally all for nothing. It makes me wonder if belief in God and the afterlife are only believed by most because we depend on that emotionally. The bible teaches that the joy of the Lord is our strength but some seem to manage without it, so whats the point to Christianity then? But maybe I’m to trusting of the integrity of atheists and most or all of them actually do know there is a God butt suppress the truth as the bible also teaches and with Romans 1 20.
    It doesn’t make any sense to be annoyed by the belief in the afterlife. It is the only way there could be a hope to have. If there were no eternal continuation of life, there would be no reason for anything to exist and no reason to care about anything. But people and animals have love and care for others and what we experience in life. There would be no point for any of those feelings and the will to live to evolve and be inherited if all will eventually die and that be the end of it. There would be no advantage for anything then if it’s all literally for nothing.

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