Religiously Unaffiliated: 25 Years of Growth

From 1971 to 1991, the religiously unaffiliated ranged between 5% and 8% of the adult population in America.  While data from the General Social Survey shows that the percentage was higher in some years than others, it featured growth and decline in irregular and unpredictable ways within that narrow range. Twenty-five years ago (1991) I had no idea what it meant to be religiously unaffiliated.  Terms like "nones" or "religiously unaffiliated" were not in my vocabulary.  While my young age at Read More …

Millions More Leaving Organized Religion

The rise of the nones (those people claiming no religious affiliation) has been a popular topic of conversation since well before I started this blog in 2009.  As one who has long been involved in leadership positions within so-called organized religion, I find this ongoing shift has significant implications for Christian communities of faith. Earlier this month the Public Religion Research Institute shared the latest statistic: 22% of American adults are now nones.  There are, however, many Read More …

Latinos Leaving Catholicism

The longstanding cultural expectation that Latinos are overwhelmingly Catholic is shifting.  New data from Pew Research finds that "a majority (55%) of the nation’s estimated 35.4 million Latino adults – or about 19.6 million Latinos – identify as Catholic today."  To put this in perspective, one must understand that the percentage of Latinos self-identifying as Catholic has been declining for two decades, and the rate of decline is accelerating.  Over the last four years alone, the number has Read More …

Causes of Religious Non-Affiliation

Allen 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 Read More …

Reality Check: Religious Non-Affiliation

In recent months I have had more conversations than ever before about the continued rise of the nones (the increase in the percentage of American adults without formal religious affiliation).  While there is plenty of data out there showing that the percentage of nones is increasing (for example:"America the Religiously Diverse" and "Rise of the Nones") it doesn't answer the number one assumption I hear: as people age they become more religious.  This assumption sounds logical and contains and Read More …

US Jews = Less Religious

A recently published Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project survey shows that American Jews are becoming less religious.  Currently, just over one-in-five Jews (22%) self-identify as having no religion.  While the rise in the percentage of Jews who label themselves as not being religious is noteworthy, the generational divide is of even greater significance.  The percent of Jews who have no religion increases from the oldest living generation to the youngest with no Read More …

Rise of the Nones

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology at UC Berkeley, recently wrote a blog post that provides a solid overview of the growth of "nones" (those who self-identify as religiously non-affiliated) over the last 30 years.  The three most significant polls (GSS, Gallup, and Pew) all illustrate the rise of the "nones" from just 7% of the adult population in the United States in the 1980s to 18-20% by 2012.   Fischer remarks, "By all these methods, the rise in 'nones' is a major American social Read More …

Canadian Nones

While I have written extensively about the rise of the religiously non-affiliated (also known as "nones") in the United States, I have given far less attention to how this trend is impacting our neighbor to the North.  Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show even as Christianity remains the dominant religion in Canada, the nones are growing quickly.  More specifically, as a percentage of the population by year "nones" accounted for 2011: 23.9% 2001: 16.5%, and 1991: Read More …

Top 10 Religious Stories of 2012

According to members of the Religion Newswriters Association (he world’s oldest and largest professional association for journalists who write about religion), the top 10 religious news stories of 2012 are U.S. Catholic bishops lead opposition to Obamacare requirement that insurance coverage for contraception be provided for employees. The government backs down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the opposition. A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey shows that “nones” is the Read More …

Learning from the Unaffiliated

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly recently featured Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity After Religion (my review), about the religious implications of the rise of the religiously unaffiliated.  While there is diversity within the growing group of religiously unaffiliated, Butler Bass claims, " . . . an awful lot of people who are in the unaffiliated categories - people who are spiritual but not religious or people who consider themselves to maybe to be spiritual and religious are engaging Read More …