The religiously unaffiliated – the “nones” – have noticed their ranks are growing. And at a meeting Saturday, a group of leaders will look to turn those swelling numbers into workable political and cultural power.
It’s one of the top priorities of the eighth annual Heads Meeting, which will be held in Atlanta. Some of the nation’s most influential leaders, representing various organizations, will convene to chart a path forward and discuss the most important issues facing “nones” today.
“It is not enough that we are growing in numbers,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “We have got to find a way to bring those numbers to bear in an organized fashion so that people will take us seriously.”
A number of studies have found that religious “nones” – people who either don’t believe in God or do not affiliate with a religion – are increasing rapidly in the United States. A 2012 Pew study, for example, found this faction to be the fastest-growing “religious” group in America and determined that one in five Americans now identify with no religion.
These numbers have emboldened atheists, humanists, agnostics and other secular Americans, many of whom have long expressed a desire for more political power.
In particular, they point to the fact that they are widely underrepresented in the halls of the highest U.S. legislative body. Though 20% of the population classifies themselves as “none,” according to Pew, only one member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, identifies as such.
Speckhardt said it’ll take presenting “viewpoints in an organized way” to see change.
Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief and one of the Atlanta meeting’s hosts, said building awareness through community engagement will be a key topic of discussion.
Written By: Dan Mericacontinue to source article at religion.blogs.cnn.com