'Nones' And Religious Identity Today

With guest host Ray Suarez.

Twenty-three percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation. What do they believe? And what does it mean for the country?

In this February 15, 2016 photo, residents and community members gather at the Sanctuaries DC, a Washington, D.C. based community gathering space for people of all religious and non-religious backgrounds. (Courtesy the Sanctuaries)

In this February 15, 2016 photo, residents and community members gather at the Sanctuaries DC, a Washington, D.C. based community gathering space for people of all religious and non-religious backgrounds. (Courtesy the Sanctuaries)

When opinion researchers ask about religious affiliation, they lay out the obvious choices — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu. If you check “No Affiliation,” or “None,” what do we call you? The n-o-n-e, or “Nones,” are the fastest-growing faith group in the country, and a major Democratic Party constituency. After decades of religiously flavored politics, and culture, how will America change? This hour On Point, the rise of the nones.

— Ray Suarez


Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology at Pitzer College. Author of “Faith No More,” “Society Without God” and “Living the Secular Life” (@phil_zuckerman)

Angie Thurston, master’s of divinity student at the Harvard Divinity School and co-author, with Casper ter Kuile, of the report, “How We Gather.” President of the Harvard Divinity School Nones.

Deborah Jian Lee, journalist, radio producer and co-founder of One Book, One Church. Author of “Resucing Jesus: How People of Color, Women and Queer Christians Are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.” (@deborahjianlee)

From The Reading List

Washington Post: Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s biggest faith constituency — “A huge group that skews under 40, white and non-immigrant, the Nones want politicians to tone it down not because they’ve made some final determination about God — the vast majority are believers — but because they are fed up with religious institutions they see as corrupt and discriminatory. And in the process, they are rewriting the country’s political discourse on morality.”

Pew Research Center: A closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious ‘nones’ — “Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults than other age groups – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are ‘nones.’ In addition, the unaffiliated as a whole are getting even younger. The median age of unaffiliated adults is now 36, down from 38 in 2007 and significantly younger than the overall median age of U.S. adults in 2014 (46).”

NPR News: ‘Religious Nones’ Are Growing Quickly. Should Republicans Worry? — “There has never been an avowedly atheist president of the U.S., and only two have been unaffiliated with any religion, according to Pew — Thomas Jefferson, who, while fascinated by Jesus’ teachings, was considered a deist, and Abraham Lincoln, whose religious beliefs remain a topic of debate. And, as of January, only one member of the current Congress reported being religiously unaffiliated.”


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