kottke.org posts about Ryan Burge

America Is Quickly Becoming More Nonreligious

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research recently conducted a poll asking Americans about their religious beliefs and found that about 30% of American adults are non-religious (which they refer to as “the nones”, presumably after the book by Ryan Burge).

The decades-long rise of the nones — a diverse, hard-to-summarize group — is one of the most talked about phenomena in U.S. religion. They are reshaping America’s religious landscape as we know it.

In U.S. religion today, “the most important story without a shadow of a doubt is the unbelievable rise in the share of Americans who are nonreligious,” said Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University and author of “The Nones,” a book on the phenomenon.

The nones account for a large portion of Americans, as shown by the 30% of U.S. adults who claim no religious affiliation in a survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Other major surveys say the nones have been steadily increasing for as long as three decades.

So who are they?

They’re the atheists, the agnostics, the “nothing in particular.” They’re the “spiritual but not religious,” and those who are neither or both. They span class, gender, age, race and ethnicity.

While the nones’ vast diversity splinters them into myriad subgroups, most of them have this in common:

They. Really. Don’t. Like. Organized. Religion.

But a dislike of organized religion among the nonreligious doesn’t necessarily translate into atheism or agnosticism: 43% of “the nones” say they believe in God.


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