Nones beat Protestants?
October 14, 2012
Who are the “Nones”?
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life provides this definition: “The term “nones” is often used to describe people who indicate in surveys that they have no religion or do not belong to any particular religion.”
The Nones now constitute a larger percentage of Americans than any Protestant group according to a front page story in USA Today.
3:55 PM EST October 9. 2012 – For decades, if not centuries, America’s top religious brand has been “Protestant.” No more.
In the 1960s, two in three Americans called themselves Protestant. Now the Protestant group — both evangelical and mainline — has slid below the statistical waters, down to 48%, from 53% in 2007
Where did they go? Nowhere, actually. They didn’t switch to a new religious brand, they just let go of any faith affiliation or label.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released an analytic study today titled, Nones on the Rise, now that one in five Americans (19.6%) claim no religious identity.
This group, called “Nones,” is now the nation’s second-largest category only to Catholics, and outnumbers the top Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists. The shift is a significant cultural, religious and even political change.
The USA Today article draws heavily on the data found in The PEW Forum’s study. The executive summary of that report states:
The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%) (footnotes omitted).
You can find a great deal of information concerning the study on PEW’s site if you want to drill deeper into the results.
How do you feel about this emerging trend in American life toward less religious affiliation? Is it a sign of growing moral decadence in American society? Is it a move towards more independent thinking? Is a sign of the failure of mainline Protestantism to motivate its membership?