Guest post: Is the Pope a Catholic?

December 27, 2012 • 4:44 am

The redoubtable commenter (and occasional guest poster) Sigmund has returned after a long hiatus. I’m glad he’s returned to grace us with his wry commentary. This week he’s found some LOLz in the Vatican.


Is the Pope a Catholic?

by Sigmund

The website, run by Atheist Alliance International, is currently collecting demographic data about atheists from around the world (religious background, educational levels, age, gender, etc.). It is all self-reported, so you need to take that into account when judging the results, but the survey does, at least, try to verify the data via validation of your email address.

The website, usefully, has a search feature that allows one to see the report for any country you choose.

A few common features are seen among atheists in almost every country. These include a high level of education, with generally over 50% of atheist respondents being university educated (e.g., USA, 59.7%; Australia, 50.5%). Curiously, there also seems to be a strong gender bias: most of the countries I’ve checked show over 65% of respondents being male (e.g., USA, 67.2%; UK, 79.7%; Sweden, 85.6%).

The number of respondents, naturally, varies between countries. Some nations, particularly those in the developing world, have no atheist respondents at all, while others, mainly English-speaking Western nations, show the greatest participation.

But you’ll find one amusing result when you generate the report for Vatican City.

Apparently there’s a single atheist there!


He’s male, university educated, and over 65 years of age. And he had a Catholic background!

It couldn’t be. . . could it? Is the Pope really a Catholic?

What are the chances that this is Benedict? According to Wikipedia, in July this year the Vatican City had a population of 836—so the chances of it being the Pope are 1/836.

Also, the Pope has started tweeting, a known gateway drug to the online atheist community. If he’s changed his mind about this whole religion thing, it should be no surprise that he’s moved onto the next stage: filling in online surveys about atheists. Let’s just hope he never finds out about the atheist messageboard scene—can you imagine the carnage if he turned up and Godwinned a thread?

27 thoughts on “Guest post: Is the Pope a Catholic?

  1. Hahaha, interesting. I thought all residents of Vatican city were catholic. Maybe they are closet atheists and the pope is the one brave enough to say so.

      1. Luckily for the pope, we have become better and we know there the gods don’t care whether we believe or not and we have no time to kill except if you live in Pakistan then you may be killed for saying Allah does not exist and Mohammed is not his prophet

    1. LOL Gird your loins Ant & do a bit of “privilege Checking” before it’s too late

      I’m sure “they” are hunting for Yorkshiremen to to add to the ever-lengthening white, cisgender, straight, middle-aged, graduate shit list 🙂

  2. in July this year the Vatican City had a population of 836—so the chances of it being the Pope are 1/836

    Much better than that, surely? How many males aged 65+ are there in Vatican City?

      1. How come it’s called the College of Cardinals when they haven’t learned anything in a thousand years?

        Either they’re there on athletic scholarship or it’s some kind of fraternity.

    1. Oops, no, it’s there — but under Holy See rather than Vatican City.

      One puzzle: Why is Catholicism indicated by the brick-red colour here but by a blue on the other pages?

      1. It’s always been under ‘Holy See (Vatican City State)’, which is what is shown in the graphic accompanying this post.

        The software always assigns that colour to the largest subcategory and places it on the pie starting at 12 o’clock. Non-Catholic Christians beat out the Catholics for top Religious Background reported overall. Check out Brazil as a case where they didn’t.

  3. “Some nations, particularly those in the developing world, have no atheist respondents at all.”
    Lack of internet connections obviously have a lot to do with it. Suriname has only about 8000 with its population of half a million. Neighbouring country Guyana does better though, both absolutely and relatively.

  4. If the pope were an atheist he wouldn’t be saying the dumbass stuff we’ve heard coming out of the Vatican in the past week.

  5. “can you imagine the carnage if he turned up and Godwinned a thread?”

    Does Godwin’s Law apply when the commenter was a Hitler Youth?

    (which I assume was the unstated premise of your closing snark–brilliant)

  6. Analysis neglects the Baeysian prior of the entry having incorrect information, either due to a data entry error or willful practical joker. More subjectively, I’d also suspect the head of the Jesuits would make a more plausible candidate.

    But still, an amusing notion.

  7. “Is the Pope a Catholic.”

    I would have thought a more appropriate question for WEIT would involve bears in woods.

    Sorry to be obvios.

Leave a Reply