The Rise of the "Nones" in American Religion
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The religiously unaffiliated are now the fastest-growing group in surveys asking Americans about their religious identity. They describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or "nothing in particular."
According to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, this group — commonly known as the " nones" — now constitutes 29% of American adults. That's up from 23% in 2016 and 19% in 2011. "If the unaffiliated were a religion, they'd be the largest religious group in the United States," said Elizabeth Drescher, a professor at Santa Clara University who wrote a book about the spiritual lives of the nones.
The religiously unaffiliated were once concentrated in urban, coastal areas, but now live across the U.S., representing a diversity of ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, Drescher said.
Even in their personal philosophies, America's nones vary widely, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press. For example, 30% say they feel some connection to God or a higher power, and 19% say religion has some importance to them even though they have no religious affiliation.
Nearly 60% of the nones say religion was at least somewhat important to their families when they were growing up, according to the poll. It also found that 30% of nones meditate and 26% pray privately at least a few times a month.
urban - in the city
somewhat - kind of
unaffiliated - not connected with
diversity - a wide range of different things/people
higher power - a power that is greater than the universe
agnostic - someone who is unsure of the presence of a god/gods