NEED-BASED OUTREACH & Researcher says … “The better questions we should ask instead of how to get the nones back is, where do we meet them and what do they need?”

by Jamie Manson, NCR Online, 10/19/19.

.., Kaya Oakes, the Oct. 15 event’s opening panelist and author of the 2015 book The Nones Are Alright: A New Generation of Seekers, Believers, and Those In Between. 

“The better questions we should ask instead of how to get the nones back is, where do we meet them and what do they need?” said Oakes.

…Oakes has been intentional about not using the term “nones,” preferring instead to call them the “religiously unaffiliated.”

“It’s a negation,” said Oakes, that is not reflective of their spiritual longings.

A second panelist, Tara Isabella Burton, also questioned whether the term “nones” should be used at all.

The author of the forthcoming book, Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, Burton says that the nones nomenclature is “profoundly incorrect.”

According to her research, “About 72% of the self-identified religiously unaffiliated say they believe in a higher power of some sort and about 20% say they believe in the Judeo-Christian God.”

“There is an enormous number of people,” Burton said, “who see themselves as spiritual persons, who have a spiritual hunger.”

Read more at … https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/grace-margins/us-nones-increase-we-must-start-asking-different-questions

TRENDS & Share of Americans With No Religious Affiliation Is Rising Significantly, New Data Shows

by David Crary, Time Magazine, 10/17/19.

The portion of Americans with no religious affiliation is rising significantly, in tandem with a sharp drop in the percentage that identifies as Christians, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

Based on telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, Pew said Thursday that 65% of American adults now describe themselves as Christian, down from 77% in 2009. Meanwhile, the portion that describes their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

Both Protestant and Roman Catholic ranks are losing population share, according to Pew. It said 43% of U.S. adults identify as Protestants, down from 51% in 2009, while 20% are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.

Pew says all categories of the religiously unaffiliated population – often referred to as the “nones” grew in magnitude. Self-described atheists now account for 4% of U.S. adults, up from 2% in 2009; agnostics account for 5%, up from 3% a decade ago; and 17% of Americans now describe their religion as “nothing in particular,” up from 12% in 2009.

Read more at … https://time.com/5704040/american-religious-affiliations-decreasing/

CHURCH HISTORY & Christian Smith explains what happened in the 1990s that led to a surge in the “nones” – the religiously unaffiliated.

by

In the early 1990s, the historical tether between American identity and faith snapped. Religious non-affiliation in the U.S. started to rise—and rise, and rise. By the early 2000s, the share of Americans who said they didn’t associate with any established religion (also known as “nones”) had doubled. By the 2010s, this grab bag of atheists, agnostics, and spiritual dabblers had tripled in size.

Christian Smith, a sociology and religion professor at the University of Notre Dame, America’s nonreligious lurch has mostly been the result of three historical events: the association of the Republican Party with the Christian right, the end of the Cold War, and 9/11.

This story begins with the rise of the religious right in the 1970s. Alarmed by the spread of secular culture—including but not limited to the sexual revolution, the Roe v. Wade decision, the nationalization of no-fault divorce laws, and Bob Jones University losing its tax-exempt status over its ban on interracial dating—Christians became more politically active. The GOP welcomed them with open arms…

The marriage between the religious and political right delivered Reagan, Bush, and countless state and local victories. But it disgusted liberal Democrats, especially those with weak connections to the Church. It also shocked the conscience of moderates, who preferred a wide berth between their faith and their politics. Smith said it’s possible that young liberals and loosely affiliated Christians first registered their aversion to the Christian right in the early 1990s, after a decade of observing its powerful role in conservative politics.

Second, it may have felt unpatriotic to confess one’s ambivalence toward God while the U.S. was locked in a geopolitical showdown with a godless Evil Empire. In 1991, however, the Cold War ended. As the U.S.S.R. dissolved, so did atheism’s association with America’s nemesis. After that, “nones” could be forthright about their religious indifference, without worrying that it made them sound like Soviet apologists.

Third, America’s next geopolitical foe wasn’t a godless state. It was a God-fearing, stateless movement: radical Islamic terrorism. A series of bombings and attempted bombings in the 1990s by fundamentalist organizations such as al-Qaeda culminated in the 9/11 attacks. It would be a terrible oversimplification to suggest that the fall of the Twin Towers encouraged millions to leave their church, Smith said. But over time, al-Qaeda became a useful referent for atheists who wanted to argue that all religions were inherently destructive.

Read more at … https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/09/atheism-fastest-growing-religion-us/598843/

NONES & The number of Americans ages 18-29 who have no religious affiliation has nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years. #ComparisonChart

from , “Flunking Sainthood,” 5/8/18.

CHART 27-Americans-18-29-with-no-religious-affiliation-NONES-1376x1032

2016 PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute)

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2018/03/08/if-mormonism-becomes-liberal-and-progressive-wont-it-decline-even-more/

TRENDS & Christian women in the U.S. are more religious than their male counterparts #PewResearch

by  , Pew Research Fact Tank, 4/6/18.

In many parts of the world, women – especially Christian women – are more religious than men. In the United States, where seven-in-ten adults are Christian, this religion gender gap is actually greater than it is a number of other developed nations, including Canada, the UK, Germany and France.

More than seven-in-ten U.S. Christian women (72%) say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with 62% of the country’s Christian men, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study. Roughly eight-in-ten Christian women also say they are absolutely certain God exists and that the Bible is the word of God, compared with about seven-in-ten men who say this.

Christian men and women in the U.S. also differ in their private devotional habits. For example, roughly three-quarters (74%) of Christian women say they pray at least daily, compared with six-in-ten men (60%). The gender gap in prayer is especially wide for Catholics and mainline Protestants: 67% of Catholic women say they pray every day while just 49% of men say the same. And 62% of mainline Protestant women say they pray daily, compared with 44% of men. Among the U.S. Christian traditions analyzed in this study, Mormons are the only group in which there is no prayer gender gap, with similar shares of women and men saying they pray daily (86% and 84%, respectively).

A similar dynamic is evident when it comes to church attendance. Christian women say they attend religious services at higher rates than Christian men, but among Mormons, there is virtually no gender difference.

While Christian men are, on average, less religious than Christian women in the U.S., the survey also shows that men overall are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated (that is, identifying as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”). Indeed, more than a quarter of men are religious “nones,” compared with just 19% of women who are religiously unaffiliated.

Read more at … http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/06/christian-women-in-the-u-s-are-more-religious-than-their-male-counterparts/

BELIEF & When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean? #PewResearch

Pew Research, 4/25/18

Previous Pew Research Center studies have shown that the share of Americans who believe in God with absolute certainty has declined in recent years, while the share saying they have doubts about God’s existence – or that they do not believe in God at all – has grown.

These trends raise a series of questions: When respondents say they don’t believe in God, what are they rejecting? Are they rejecting belief in any higher power or spiritual force in the universe? Or are they rejecting only a traditional Christian idea of God – perhaps recalling images of a bearded man in the sky? Conversely, when respondents say they dobelieve in God, what do they believe in – God as described in the Bible, or some other spiritual force or supreme being?

A new Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults finds that one-third of Americans say they do not believe in the God of the Bible, but that they do believe there is some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe. A slim majority of Americans (56%) say they believe in God “as described in the Bible.” And one-in-ten do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force.

In the U.S., belief in a deity is common even among the religiously unaffiliated – a group composed of those who identify themselves, religiously, as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” and sometimes referred to, collectively, as religious “nones.” Indeed, nearly three-quarters of religious “nones” (72%) believe in a higher power of some kind, even if not in God as described in the Bible.

The survey questions that mention the Bible do not specify any particular verses or translations, leaving that up to each respondent’s understanding. But it is clear from questions elsewhere in the survey that Americans who say they believe in God “as described in the Bible” generally envision an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving deity who determines most or all of what happens in their lives. By contrast, people who say they believe in a “higher power or spiritual force” – but not in God as described in the Bible – are much less likely to believe in a deity who is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent and active in human affairs.

Read more at … http://www.pewforum.org/2018/04/25/when-americans-say-they-believe-in-god-what-do-they-mean/

POLITICS & Research indicates political posturing by Christians may be linked to rising rates of nonreligious people.

Abstract:

Hout and Fischer have made the repeated, controversial claim that the dramatic rise of “religious nones” in the United States is due to the prominence of the politics of the Christian Right. As the argument goes, the movement’s extreme stands on gay rights and abortion make religion inhospitable to those who take more moderate and liberal positions. We take another look at this proposition with novel data drawing on expert reports and interest group counts that capture the prominence of the movement in each American state from 2000 to 2010. We attach these data to decennial religious census data on the unchurched, as well as estimates of the nones from Cooperative Congressional Election Study data. At stake is whether religion is independent of political influence and whether American religion is sowing its own fate by failing to limit taking extreme stands. Rising none rates are more common in Republican states in this period. Moreover, when the Christian Right comes into more public conflict, such as over same-sex marriage bans, the rate of religious nones climbs.

The marquee religious trend in the United States over the last thirty years is the rapid rise of the “religious nones”—those who claim no religious affiliation in surveys—from just 6 percent in the early 1990s to about 25 percent today (PRRI 2016; Thiessen and Wilkins-Laflamme 2017).1 Perhaps not coincidentally, that meteoric rise started around 1994, just when the Christian Right rose to prominence within the Republican Party in government, as Republicans swept the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years.2 As the argument goes, the Christian Right is the most visible manifestation of religion in the United States, and the extreme positions taken by the movement on abortion and especially gay rights made all religion inhospitable for liberals and moderates (Hout and Fischer 2002, 2014; see also Evans 2016). We aim to revisit this claim by taking one of the mechanisms seriously—Is there a relationship between Christian Right presence in (state) politics and the supply of nones?

We define the Christian Right in much the same way as others have: “as a social movement that attempts to mobilize evangelical Protestants and other orthodox Christians into conservative political action” (Wilcox and Larson 2006, 6). Moreover, we acknowledge that the Christian Right encompasses a wide variety of different actors, including “everyone from movement leaders to activists to ordinary group members and those sympathetic to its political and religious agenda” (Klemp 2010, 25). As discussed later, our measures capture multiple facets of the movement, including a specific focus on the social movement organizations (see Miceli 2005; Rozell and Wilcox 1996; Wilcox 1992), as well as more holistic sense of anything elite observers would lump together as the movement. We use the term “Christian Right” throughout the paper to refer to both, and in this way our operational definition of the Christian Right captures both sides of what Rozell and Wilcox (1996, 7) cover: “organizations that attempt to mobilize orthodox Christian religious views behind a very conservative political agenda.”

Our works draws on a decade and a half of data gathering, surveying elite observers in the electoral moment regarding whether Christian Right organizations were active and influential in their state’s politics. Taking place in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2016 (Conger 2010a, 2014), we attach these elite perception data to survey estimates, religious census, and U.S. Census data, in addition to other data sources, to assess why the supply of nones changed in the states. We argue that the rate of change is uneven across the states, driven by the salient policy controversy linked to Christian Right activism. Our findings suggest that Christian Right influence in state politics seems to negatively affect religion, such that religious attachments fade in the face of visible Christian Right policy victories.

Read more at … http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1065912918771526?cookieSet=1