Nonreligion winning out over major religious denominations

September 22, 2009

A new study released today by Trinity College shows that the number of nonreligious, or "Nones," including avowedly atheist and agnostic people, is growing in the United States. The lead researcher, demographer Barry Kosmin, says that trends suggest that one in five Americans will be nonreligious in 20 years. (Check out my interview with Kosmin on Point of Inquiry about The Scientific Study of Secularism .)

Interestingly, the number of Nones who are avowedly atheist has remained consistent over time. Great line from Kosmin about this in today's USA Today:

"It's not as though dozens of people at the Methodist Church read (atheist Richard) Dawkins and suddenly decided God doesn't exist."

A few other interesting facts about the rising tide of nonreligious, or Nones:

  • Just because you are nonreligious or a None doesn't mean you lack belief in God. 51% still believe in a "higher power."
  • The majority of Nones are male.  
  • Most Nones come from people between churches or who are skeptical of organized religion. Fewer come from "natural growth," which is when children of Nones become Nones themselves.

The real take-home message of the report is that the unchurched or the Nones are no longer a fringe belief group in the United States. They are not just on the coasts. They are very middle-America, and there are more of us, in all our diversity, now than ever before.

Read the USA Today article from today on this topic, People with 'no religion' gain on major denominations .

Or check out the Catholic News Agency's take, New study examines 34 million American adults with no religion .


#1 Jen (Guest) on Friday September 25, 2009 at 1:07pm

Among “Anonymous,” the people working to protest Scientology, an interesting debate has broken out. After news reports of how many people self-identify as “Jedi” as their religious affiliation, some members are urging others to list “Jedi” on their census reports. Those dissenting have suggested Flying Spaghetti Monster and even - “Anonymous.”

Religion’s definition itself is on shaky ground as more and more do-it-yourself sects and belief systems form. These groups attract a more “do your own thing” attitude that has grown over the last forty years. They also appeal to those who believe in a higher power, but not a personal god.

#2 Evan (Guest) on Monday September 28, 2009 at 8:13pm

An avowed athiest myself, I think it unwise to try to predict religious trends. Although as a race we have pushed the limits of scientific iquiry further than ever before and discovered so much that would help us understand the realities of this planet and the falsehoods of the superstious mind I would like to remind every reader than the real trend is that in times of unrest, chaos, instability and percieved rising levels of immoral behaviour religion is a beacon to the weak. The Counter-Reformation and the evangelization of America in the mid 20th Century come to mind

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.