2020 membership survey results: Who are FFRF members?

Based on FFRF’s survey, it seems most FFRF members are as excited to be members as Don Ardell was at the 2017 national convention in Madison, Wis. FFRF has a 98 percent satisfaction rate among it members! (Photo by Ingrid Laas)

We asked you, our 32,000 current members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, more about you, and you answered — more than 12,000 of you, which is an amazing response. (A standard response rate is 10-15 percent.)

Want to know more about yourselves? Here’s the scoop: The typical FFRF member is a retired, married man and self-described atheist, with a four-year college degree who left Protestantism because “religion doesn’t make sense,” and is a first-generation freethinker. The typical member has spoken out about state/church entanglements and speaks out freely about his lack of religion.

The typical FFRF’er is most likely 50 or up, with an average age of 64.7. In fact, 83 percent of FFRF members are 60 or older, with those in the 70-79 age range the most popular age bracket at 28.36 percent (compared to 28.29 percent who are 60-69). In tandem with these age brackets, 61 percent are retired or semi-retired.

Seventy percent of you are male, 29 percent female and the rest non-binary or preferred not to say. Ninety-five percent of respondents identify as white, a reason why FFRF’s board has embarked on a concerted diversity/inclusion plan. Only 10 percent have a child or children under the age of 18 in their household.

FFRF’ers are an educated bunch, with 80 percent having at least one four-year degree (compared to 34 percent of the general population), 25 percent a Master’s degree or multiple Master’s degrees (compared to 13 percent of the U.S. population), and 17 percent with a J.D., Ph.D., or M.D./VET/DDS-DMD.

Twenty-one percent are retired U.S. military, compared to 8 percent of the general population. Eighteen percent are in the teaching profession or retired from it, compared to 2 percent of the general population currently teaching.

FFRF members, when asked “Which single term best describes your nonreligious views,” chose “atheist,” with 70 percent so identifying, followed by humanist at 9 percent, freethinker at 8.9 percent and agnostic at 7 percent (with a smattering of “other”).

Three-quarters identify as a first-generation freethinker, 19 percent as second generation, and only 4 percent third-generation.

Almost 12 percent consider yourselves to be part of the LGBTQ community, compared to 4.5 percent in the general population.

Slightly more than half indicate “My spouse/companion is also a nonbeliever,” 24 percent agreed “Most of my immediate family members are also nonreligious,” and 42 percent with “Most of my child(ren) are nonbelievers.”

But your responses also told a story of the continuing lack of acceptance for nonbelievers in the United States, with more than a quarter “wary of letting others know I reject religion,” 21 percent who “feel like the only ‘infidel’ in my area,” and 22 percent experiencing social stigma or other reprisal as a nonbeliever.

The upset question was: “Do you live with a cat or dog?” Those with dogs (35.6 percent) slightly outnumbered those with cats (32 percent) but the “no pet” category won overall (39 percent). (Forty-four percent of Americans in general have a dog and 29 percent have a cat.)

The number of vegetarians or vegans continues to climb in FFRF, to almost 13 percent compared to about 4 percent of the general population. More than 33 percent of you engage in regular volunteer work, higher than the average 25 percent generally.

We found that 43 percent of you have been members for at least 2-5 years; in fact, 75 percent have been members at least that long including 20 percent for 6-10 years.

And we were very pleased that 60 percent of you rate your overall satisfaction with FFRF as “very satisfied” and 38 percent as “satisfied” (that’s a 98 percent satisfaction rate!).

We’re still going through the optional comments left by more than 4,000 of you with great interest and analyzing your responses over in-house items.

“And something that makes FFRF very proud is that 98 percent of our members are registered voters, thus confirming our slogan: We’re secular and we vote!” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president and co-founder.

Thank you, dear members, for telling us more about yourself and for completing the section on your views on the other timely matters of our day. (See story this page on secular voters.)