Much Ado About “Nones”

Today the Pew Forum released results from their latest survey of the American religious landscape. After almost ten years of making asides about the growth of this demographic in their annual reports, the Pew Forum announced: “Nones” on the Rise.”

Based on phone interviews conducted in June and July of this year, the Pew Forum finds that 1 in 5 adult Americans identify as having no religious affiliation [and, thus, the term “none”], a 5-percent increase in the past five years. A closer look at this demographic reveals that while 1 in 5 may identify as religiously “unaffiliated,” many hold what might be called “religious” beliefs, like believing in God (68%), or participating in “religious” activities, like praying everyday (21%). Interesting still, these “religious” characteristics do not lead “nones” to seek an affiliation. When asked, “Are you looking for a religion that would be right for you,” 88% answered “not looking.” Those in my Religion in U.S. History courses, who have tracked the Pew Forum before, may not be surprised to read that this demographic is noticeably larger when broken down by generation: 1 in 3 adults under thirty identified as having no religious affiliation. The changing religious landscape in America only provides further evidence that religion scholars need to stay on their toes and continue to re-consider the way in which they think about and research “religion.”

The full report can be found here and the US Religious Landscape Survey can be found here.

Press on the report can be found at NPR, PBS, USA Today, Huffington Post, and the Washington Post, to name a few. More to come.

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