The So-Called Nones

This week The Week had an interesting article–an introduction of the term used for the religiously unaffiliated in this country–the “Nones.”

Trinity College has come out with a study that claims that 34 million Americans (about 15% of the population) claim no religious affiliation.

“Why are their numbers rising?
For lots of different reasons. Some have apparently abandoned organized religion as a result of specific experiences. One-third of the unaffiliated have Irish ancestry, compared with only 10 percent of the general population, suggesting that disenchantment with the Catholic Church—and its sex-abuse scandals—is a contributing factor. Some nonreligious Americans may simply be retreating from an arena that has been a harsh political battleground in recent decades, with fights over abortion, gay rights, school prayer, and evolution. And some major denominations, including Episcopalians and Southern Baptists, have experienced bruising internecine fights over doctrine. There may also be a more profound cause. A recent national poll found that the proportion of Americans who believe that religion can ‘answer all or most of today’s problems’ has fallen to 48 percent—an all-time low. Many believers, says religion writer Julia Duin, ‘are perplexed and disappointed with God.’”

“So what’s at stake?
The character of the nation. With the number of religious refugees doubling in less than a generation, a continuation of that trend could markedly change the cultural and political landscape. ‘If current trends continue and cohorts of nonreligious young people replace older religious people,’ the Trinity study states, ‘the likely outcome is that in two decades, the Nones could account for around one-quarter of the American population.’ Nonreligious citizens tend to hold more liberal political and cultural views than regular churchgoers, suggesting that a continued decline in religious affiliation could be accompanied by a rise of liberalism. Secularism in the U.S., says Trinity demographer Ariela Keysar, might one day even rival the famed religious indifference of Europeans. ‘We’re not there,’ she says, ‘but we’re going in that direction.’”

The article continues by saying that not all churchless are faithless, nor have they turned their backs on God, but instead these people have started house churches or some alternative form of worship.  These people are “less interested in attending church than being the church,” says author George Barna.  [I talked about his book Pagan Christianity on August 21st here, if you’re interested.]

I just had no idea there’s an actual term for all of us.  Who knew?

[Post image: Glasgow Cathedral Church Window by Ayla87 at stock.xchng]


  1. […] one of those 25 plus million people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious.  [See my post about the “So-Called Nones” in November of last year—a conversation referring to an article in The Week that gave people like us a name.]  Ever since […]

  2. […] A few weeks ago, I posted an article from The Week, identifying the Nones, those people who are people of faith, but follow no certain denomination or church.  You can read my post here. […]

  3. […] The discomfort I feel in labeling myself when someone asks if I’m a Christian. […]

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