Religious ‘Nones’ Are Now Largest Group in the US

More Americans than ever before are checking “none of the above” when asked about their religion. The rise of the so-called “nones” — that is, those who don’t hold to any particular religious affiliation — has increased precipitously over the last several years, according to new data from the Pew Research Centre. In 2007, “nones,” who consider themselves agnostic, atheist, or hold to “nothing in particular,” made up just 16% of the American populace. As of this year, that number has jumped to 28%. When that 28% is broken down further, the Pew survey found 17% identified as atheist, 20% as agnostic, and 63% as “nothing in particular.” Most of the “nones” said they were raised in Christian homes. The religious “nones” are also overwhelmingly young, with 69% being under 50 years old, and largely white at 63%. A majority of the 3,317 “nones” surveyed said they still believe in “God” — but not “as described in the Bible” — or some form of a “higher power.” Half of the religiously unaffiliated said they consider themselves “spiritual,” while 29% rejected entirely the idea that there is “any higher power or spiritual force in the universe.”

It’s important to note “nones” only usurp those who believe in God when American believers are split into two separate evangelical Protestant (24%) and Catholic (23%) groups. North Carolina-based Pastor J.D. Greear, who led the Southern Baptist Convention from 2018 to 2021, recently spoke about the trend in religious disaffiliation. “Every demographic study that I’ve seen as of recent, that’s growing maybe the fastest is this N-O-N-E group – ‘the nones,’” he said. “They’re very skeptical of institutionalized religion. One of the things we can get wrong is to think that they’re not interested in spirituality.” Much of that, the pastor said, is likely connected to the shrinking acceptance of Christian norms within American culture writ large. “a lot of the decline in those numbers is cultural Christianity,” explained Greear. “But, if you look at the statistics in the amount of what I would consider true disciples, those numbers are actually encouraging.”

Greear leads The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and said he and his congregation are working to plant some 1,000 churches to offset the alarming rate of church closures. To date, Summit has planted more than 500 congregations worldwide, 75 of which have been strategically launched in North American cities and college towns. “What we’re after here is not demographic increase; what we’re after here are real followers of Jesus,” the pastor told CBN News, noting, “Unfortunately, a lot of people\ are not reached in the church by just doing great music, great guest services, and a relevant sermon.” He added, “A lot of them have to be reached outside the church, which means we have to equip our members to carry the Gospel outside the walls of the church. That’s always been important, but it’s more important than ever.”

Source: Faithwire

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