USA Today reports about the results:
Barry Kosmin, co-author of three American Religious Identification Surveys, theorizes why None has become the "default category." He says, "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before."
Kosmin's surveys were the first to brand the Nones in 1990 when they were 6% of U.S. adults. By 2008 survey, Nones were up to 15%. By 2010, another survey, the bi-annual General Social Survey, bumped the number to 18%.
The 19% count is based on aggregated surveys of 19,377 people conducted by the Pew Research Center throughout 2011.The article notes that religious sects like Catholics, Baptists, Methodists and Lutherans all show either a decrease in affiliation or no change during the same period of growth in the Nones category. It also explains that the main way the category of non-religious grows is through switching of 10% of people who grow up in religious households but become unaffiliated.
The Freedom From Religious Foundation applauded the survey results:
“With nonbelievers at about 20% of the population, there is no longer any excuse for leaving us out of the equation. Public officials cannot continue to assume ‘all Americans’ believe in a deity, or continue to offend 20% of the population by imposing prayer at governmental meetings or government-hosted events. These surveys now show that ‘In God We Trust’ is a provenly inaccurate motto. Nonbelievers should not be treated as political pariahs,” [FFRF Co-Director Annie Laurie] Gaylor said.
“ ‘Nones’ in fact were at the time of the last ARIS survey, the second-largest ‘denomination’ in the nation,” Barker said, “following Catholics at 25% and tied with Baptists at 15%. According to the new PEW study, nonbelievers now outrank Baptists.”
I wonder what it will take to get agnostics, atheists and other non-believers the respect their numbers deserve.
Hat/tip to Friendly Atheist