None of the Above: The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated

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New miniseries from Religion & Ethics Newsweekly explores views of 46 million religiously unaffiliated Americans

Watch None of the Above: The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.


Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, the national PBS television program produced by Thirteen/WNET, is launching a three-part mini-series, “None of the Above: The Rise of the Religiously Unaffiliated,” based largely on a new survey about the views of the 46 million Americans who say they are not affiliated with any particular religion. 

According to the Pew Research Center, one in five American adults — nearly 20 percent of the US population — now describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, the highest percentage ever in Pew’s polling. Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly partnered with the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life in a survey to delve more deeply into the theological, social and political views of these Americans, who are often called “the nones.”

“We’re getting a growing group, as much as one-fifth of the adult population, that do not identify with some kind of organized religion, and that has a lot of implications for religion, for politics, for society,” Prof. John Green, director of the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron, told Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. “It represents a very significant change.”

Written By: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
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10 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting video and statistics – 46 million non-religious American adults is a promising development and long may that figure continue to rise.

    However, the end of the video, where it talks about many (if not most) of these non-religious people still believing in some kind of god or spirituality, makes me realise that we still have a very long way to go as a species.

    But it’s a start, I guess – and personal woo-woo is a lot less dangerous than organised woo-woo…

  2. I don’t think it is 46 mil non-religious, just non-affiliated but still religious. You know, the sort who say—”My god wouldn’t do that… I believe in a god who loves everyone, let’s dogs into heaven and gives free back-rubs…” Or they may say—”I believe every living thing from the smallest microbe to the largest animal is its own god and in control of its own world.” These people are still fucking crazy lunatics they are just not associated with any specific group of fucking lunatics.

  3. I think you have to consider the society they come from,
    It must be a very brave and personally difficult choice to make to drift away from organized religion in the first place given the importance and influence it has in American society.

    Probably indoctrinated since birth…these bunnies are not the ‘born again’ critters that come to jeebus through drink, drugs, or a bit of bovva’ with the law, or indeed through other avenues of desperation.
    They are steeped in the trash the innate bigotry and crass hatred’s that seem part and parcel of a corrupted and ignorant ‘knowledge’ for years at a time, it takes so much to break from the herd, and probably costs many ‘friends’ and family relationships.
    To ditch a core principle at such a time of stress would be really pushing the envelope on what to expect.

    Maybe at such a time they need a ‘invisible fairy’ because that is probably all they can rely and really all they know to to get them through the antipathy they undoubtedly face, and is all they possess to mentally get through another day.

    Maybe after they have made that step and got through the initial stages of such a withdrawal from the organized religion that they might feel a little more relaxed and can ditch even that aspect of ‘belief’.
    It might even be a compromise gambit with acquaintances and those closer  …’I no longer go to church but I still believe’ ..it kind of draws the inevitable sting of apostasy in a community sense.
    But that is a guess.

    I think in time most of these folks will jettison god quietly.
    A few years down the road will be the telling poll, the principle of withdrawal has been established and other folks in similar circumstances see that and realise it is possible and a slow trickle becomes a torrent. I think this might be the beginning of that torrent.

  4. I agree – it may appear to us, impatiently looking on from the sidelines of sanity, like slow progress, but they are perhaps unwittingly sowing the seeds of revolution in the next generation.

    If the parents aren’t indoctrinating the kids into organised religious dogma (prefering to encourage them to discover their own spirituality), then the kids are much less likely to belong to a religion later in life – and the cycle will be further reinforced when they have children of their own.

    Here’s to torrents and all who sail in them…

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