Causes of Religious Non-Affiliation

downey_allenAllen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, recently published a paper suggesting that the rapid rise in those who label their religious preference as “none” (no religious affiliation) is likely caused by

  • generational replacement – 50%,
  • religious upbringing – 25%,
  • internet use – 20%, and
  • college education – 5%.

So What?

As one who studies changes in American religious affiliation, I am fascinated to find a computer scientist suggesting a list of the leading causes in the rise of nones.  His leading cause, generational replacement, simply means that people born later are less likely to be affiliated (something about which he offers no speculation).  While I think a critique of Downey’s work is a worthwhile venture, I believe a more fruitful path for most is to allow it to motivate you to think about what it is you believe may be contributing to the decline in religious affiliation.  What factors make your list?


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