Nones

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Nones do not subscribe to an organized religion such as Christianity or Judaism.[1]

Although some American atheists like to claim the unaffiliated (unaffiliated with organized religion), "nones" or "no religion" on religious surveys as one of their own, fewer than 15% of the "nones" consider themselves atheists.[2]

The atheist Georgetown University professor Jacques Berlinerblau declared concerning American atheists attempting to falsely inflate their numbers:

American atheist movements, though fancying themselves a lion, are more like the gimpy little zebra crossing the river full of crocs. In terms of both political gains and popular appeal, nonbelievers in the United States have little to show. They are encircled by cunning, swarming [religious] Revivalist adversaries who know how to play the atheist card. The gimpy zebra remark was a little goofing on this over-the-top chest-thumping that emerges from Movement Atheists. They wildly overestimate their numbers. They tend to overestimate the efficacy of their activism. They underestimate how disciplined and organized their adversaries in the religious right are, too. They fail to recognize that mocking religious people in public is entirely inimical to the goals they wish to achieve."[3]

Global decline of nones in the 21st Century

See also: Growth of Christianity in China

According to the Pew Research Forum:

These projections, which take into account demographic factors such as fertility, age composition and life expectancy, forecast that people with no religion will make up about 13% of the world’s population in 2050, down from roughly 16% as of 2010.

This is largely attributable to the fact that religious “nones” are, on average, older and have fewer children than people who are affiliated with a religion...

China, with its large population and lack of reliable data on religious switching, is something of a wild card when it comes to the future of world religion. This is especially true for the religiously unaffiliated population; more than half of the world’s people who do not identify with any religion live in China (roughly 700 million).

Some experts believe the Christian population in China is rising while the religiously unaffiliated population is falling. If this is true – and the trend continues – religious “nones” could decline as a share of the world’s population even more than the Pew Research Center study projects.[4]

Eric Kaufmann told a secular audience in Australia: "The trends that are happening worldwide inevitably in an age of globalization are going to affect us."[5] Furthermore, Kaufmann also argues that secularization may reverse itself significantly earlier than 2050 in the West due to religious immigration and a religious population which is increasingly resistant to secularization in Europe.[6]

Percentage of nones expected to stabilize in the United States

Eric Kaufmann wrote:

The same is true in the United States. “Nones” may be the third-largest religious group in the United States, and ex-Catholics the fourth-largest, but the switching story needs a demographic context. If America remained 70 percent white, the population would reach European levels of secularization in two generations and Catholics would rapidly lose market share to Protestants. Instead, swift Hispanic and Asian population growth is projected to stabilize the share of nonreligious Americans at roughly today’s levels.[7]

Spiritual but not religious, mental disorders and suicides

According to the British Journal of Psychiatry: “People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.”[8]

Elizabeht Drescher declared in the article Mew Research Links Spiritual but not religious to mental disorder:

In the British study, SBNRs were found to be significantly more likely to be drug-dependent (77%) and to suffer from phobias (72%) or anxiety (50%). No wonder they’re significantly more likely (40%) than the religious to be being treated with psychotropic drugs.[9]

Religiously unaffiliated and suicide

See also: Atheism and suicide

In 2004, the American Journal of Psychiatry reported:

Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found.[10][11]

Decline of Asian atheism

See also: Asian atheism

According to the global news website Quartz:

Atheists, agnostics, and other religious non-affiliates are a dying breed in Asia. According to a Pew Research Center study released last week, Asia’s shrinking pool of men and women who don’t identify with any religion are driving a drop in the proportion of “religious nones” in the world.

The percentage of the unaffiliated in Asia Pacific—home to about 76% of the world’s unaffiliated—will fall to 17% in 2050 from 21%, Pew estimates. ...this drop in Asia and the growth of religious communities elsewhere will mean the unaffiliated will make up only 13% of the world’s population in 2050, down from 16% in 2010.[12]

Nones and the moniker of spiritual, but not religious

Nones often declare that they are spiritual, but not religious.[13] Social science data indicates that that the spiritual but not religious are more vulnerable to mental disorders.[14]

Research also shows that atheists are more prone to depression/suicide and are also more prone to having lower social skills (see: Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide and Atheism and social/interpersonal intelligence).

Past long term increase in those who have no religious identity

Over the longer term there has been a substantial and relatively steady increase in the number of Americans having no religious identity. Gallup has been specifically tracking this trend since 1948.[15] At that point a mere 2% of Americans volunteered "no religion". In the intervening years, however, the numbers have steadily grown so that in 2008 the figure had reached some 16% of the population.

Nones and poor survey design

Research shows that a significant amount of American nondenominational church members are checking "unaffiliated" or "no religion" on surveys.

Pat Neff Hall at Baylor University.

Based on research done by Baylor University, a February 2011 article entitled Good News about Evangelicalism declares:

Nondenominational churches, almost exclusively evangelical, now represent the second-largest group of Protestant churches in America, and the fastest growing section of the American religious market...

This trend has affected popular statistics and has also served to exaggerate the loss of religious faith and evangelical influence in America. Most previous research missed a new phenomenon: that members of nondenominational churches often identify themselves on surveys as unaffiliated or even as having “no religion.” Because traditional surveys do not provide categories that adequately describe those who attend nondenominational congregations, their members often check “unaffiliated” in typical surveys and questionnaires...

Similarly, claims that Americans, including evangelicals, are falling away from the faith contradict seven decades of survey research confirming that only 4 percent of Americans are atheists...

...We found no statistically significant difference between younger and older evangelicals on other moral and political issues, however. Younger evangelicals were, in fact, sometimes more conservative than their elders.

...The number of evangelicals remains high, and their percentage among practicing Christians in America is, if anything, rising.[16]

For more information, please see: Baylor University researchers on American Christianity

American 1990s secularism

See also: Decline of American 1990s secularism

In 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reported:

The 1990s was the decade when the “secular boom” occurred – each year 1.3 million more adult Americans joined the ranks of the Nones. Since 2001 the annual increase has halved to 660,000 a year...

Regarding belief in the divine, most Nones are neither atheists nor theists but rather agnostics and deists (59%) and perhaps best described as skeptics.[17]

Americans with "no religion" and American patriotism

See also: Sociology of "atheism is un-American" view

CNN reported:

Christianity Today crunched data from a Pew Research Center poll that asked more than 1,500 Americans for their views of the United States.

“Nearly all Americans think they live in the best country on Earth. While a majority of Americans believe there are other countries just as great, nine in 10 say no nation is better. Within this high view of America, there are differences between different religious groups,” the magazine noted.

To this end, Christianity Today suggested the existence of a “patriotism God-gap in America.”

Among those surveyed, evangelicals were the most likely to think the United States is No. 1.

“Other Christian traditions were less enthusiastic about America's position in the world, but they still saw the U.S. as one of the best on the planet. About 40% of other Christians said the U.S. stands alone as the greatest country; around 55% said it and some other countries were equally great. As with evangelicals, only a few said there were greater countries in the world.”

“Those with no religion, however,” hold a much less favorable view, according to the magazine.

"Only one in five of those without religious beliefs said the U.S. is the best country in the world, an equal percentage agreeing that 'there are other countries that are better than the U.S.' ”[18]

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