The rise in religiously unaffiliated adults in the U.S. is no passing fad, a new report released today has confirmed.
Over 19% of U.S. adults are “nones,” Americans who do not identify with any religion—and that number continues to grow at a rapid pace, according to the Pew Form on Religion and Public Life’s latest report titled “’Nones’ on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation.” This number includes more than 13 million atheists and agnostics and nearly 33 million who answered “nothing in particular” when asked for their religious affiliation.
"Millions of Americans are discovering that religion isn’t required in order to lead a moral and purposeful life,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
Traditional religions may be unwittingly accelerating the secularization. Speckhardt explained, “We’re seeing evidence that our numbers are bolstered when there’s religious opposition to progress on issues like same-sex marriage, women’s reproductive freedom, and concern for the environment. Young people especially can’t stomach such backward thinking.”
According to the report, the younger generations are increasingly less religious: 32% of people under 30 have no religious affiliation, compared to 9% of those 65 and older. “College students and people starting families and entering new careers are coming out as non-religious in droves,” remarked Speckhardt. “Saying that you are an atheist no longer carries the stigma that it did in years past. More and more are recognizing that you can be good without a belief in a god.”
The American Humanist Association has seen an explosive growth of interest in humanism and atheism. Over the past decade, the 70-year-old organization has seen its supporter base quadruple to 20,000 members and supporters, with over 80,000 followers on Facebook. The Reason Rally, an event in Washington DC held last March and co-sponsored by the American Humanist Association and other freethought groups, drew 25,000 attendees who consider themselves atheists, humanists, and religiously unaffiliated.
The report’s findings also include:
• From 2007-2012, the “nones” have risen from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults.
• Eighty-eight percent of the “nones” say they are not looking for a religion.
• The “nones” are largely Democratic, being 24% of registered voters who vote Democratic or lean that way, the largest block of any “religious” group.
• 72% of unaffiliated people support abortion rights and 73% support same-sex marriage.
The report can be found online: http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx