ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday October 9, 2012
… As Protestants decline, people with no religion, “Nones”, are rising in number. Protestants are less than half of Americans, while Nones are one in five.
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.
It’s not because they switched to a different religion; they just let go of any faith affiliation or label — and thus became what sociologists now refer to as ‘Nones.’
The figures come from Nones on the Rise, a new study released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
In its executive summary Pew says that 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%)
And yet the survey also finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way
With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
Pew also notes that
In addition to religious behavior, the way that Americans talk about their connection to religion seems to be changing. Increasingly, Americans describe their religious affiliation in terms that more closely match their level of involvement in churches and other religious organizations.
In 2007, 60% of those who said they seldom or never attend religious services nevertheless described themselves as belonging to a particular religious tradition. In 2012, just 50% of those who say they seldom or never attend religious services still retain a religious affiliation – a 10-point drop in five years.
These trends suggest that the ranks of the unaffiliated are swelling in surveys partly because Americans who rarely go to services are more willing than in the past to drop their religious attachments altogether.
Just 10% of those who describe their current religion as “nothing in particular” say they are looking for a religion that is right for them; 88% say they are not. Nevertheless, there is substantial switching from unaffiliated to affiliated. In the current survey, four-in-ten adults who say they were raised unaffiliated now identify themselves as religiously affiliated.
Download the full report
Why are fewer Americans identifying with a religion?
Just half of Britons now call themselves Christian; ‘nones’ growing
Growing numbers shed organized church for loose spiritual sensibility
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