The Growing Religious Nones

Posted on December 13, 2016 by


Joshua Pfeifer

30 November \2016

World Religion

Final Paper


                                                  The Growing of Religious Nones


Religious nones are people who claim to not affiliate with any religion.  There has been a large increase in these religious in the United States.  Especially with Mid-age and young adults.  The media has addressed this topic over the past months.  Many media sources put their focuses in different areas of this movement.  Through research a person can discover how the media views this movement and even ask why there are different views and ideas on what seems to be a simple movement of religious nones.

One big trend noticed in the media trying to show just how much religious nones there are in the United States is the breaking down survey data such as  The survey was taken from all regions in the United States.  The researches then broke done charts to show what this would look like with just a 100 people.  This can help people wrap their minds around an idea of how many there are instead of having huge numbers.  These charts showed around 23% of people are religious nones.

These charts were presented and data were used in many media outlets I discovered trying to show how huge the movement is.  The survey also only claims to have data for 245 million people.  Well the United States has around 318 million people.  Witch could make the missing amount greater than the number of people surveyed that answered to being religious nones. These people could change outcome by the by a lot.  This graph can persuade the viewer to believe that people have no religious affiliation at all makes up a bigger number then it could be.

Many articles have been written about the growing of religious nones due to the elections such “Breaking UP With Church Over Politics” by Clare Ansberry for the Wall Street Journal, “And Then There Were Nones” by Katherine Ozment from Longform, and many more.  These articles tend to follow the same trend.  A focus on the recent election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.   With a focus on millennials leaving the Christian churches due to division and political preachers.

These articles tend to talk about Christians and the churches in them that tend to vote as conservative republican.  The articles explain how these churches tended to add politics to their sermons.  These could be subtle such as calling abortion wrong to in your face as to anyone who votes for the party that is for abortion is a sinner and not Christian.  The articles have testimonies telling stories of people leaving church due to this.  Members of the church  calling arguing with each other over politics driving each other to tears.

This leads to people leaving the organized church and becoming religious nones.  They put a focus on millennials because the young tend to be seen as the more progressive.  The older ones have also show tendencies to vote for the conservative.

The articles try to show the reader that the Christian church is dividing due to its claimed political agenda.  In all these articles “Breaking UP With Your Church Over Politics”  by Clare Ansberry was the only one to use the term “mega church”.  Through further research I discovered that mega churches are evangelist Christian churches with a large following that tend to preach a conservative agenda.  These churches became popular for doing this in the 1960s.  This discredits the articles because all of them mention the evangelist Christians.  They have clearly been doing this for a while and still continue to have a large following in the United Sates.  The articles lead one to believe more people are completely leaving their faith when the Evangelist still have a strong following. These so called religious nones must be common thing during election time because according to the Pew forum since 2011 evangelist have stayed around 13 percent of Christians in the United States with no sudden drops even after the 2012 Obama election.

Some religious organization have took action about the rise of religious nones.  According to “Why Teens Leave the Faith and What Churches, Families are Doing About it” by Kelsey Dallas churches have recognized that the majority of religious nones come from late high school students to college students.

Studies done “Installing Faith in Children is a Growing Challenge” by Scott Winterton show that 78 percent of religious nones come from a religious background.  They have grown up practicing religion and then eventually choose to be nones.  They have focused on families and how parenting can play a role in the rise of religious nones.  Churches encourage parents to show their kids a more straight forward path to their faith.  To teach them the why they should believe with enthusiasm and how important it is.  Parents today tend to have lost the sight of this trend.  Instead they give their children more freedom to choose their religious path and activities.  This leads to the lack of extreme straight forward focus on faith.  Boston College Psychology department explains how this leads to the teenager and college student to question their life of faith because it hasn’t been put under such importance and enthusiasm as earlier generations tended to do.

Churches have also token a role in regaining these religious nones.  According to Kelsey Dallas many churches such as the Christ United Methodist church have been changing and adding to attract the young people who may be deciding to leave their faith.  Churches all over have been going through colleges in even high schools to create a community of people to participate in the faith together around the same age range.  They tend to have younger leaders and speak more about topic going on in a young person life.  They have laid back and fun activities to get people more involved.  There were no results shown on how this was doing just student testimonies.  This can discredit the articles because it shows no real success or failure just a background thought.

According to Emily Miller “The Study Finds that Churches with Conservative Theology still Growing” shows a study where the churches that are growing tend to be more traditional.  They surveyed over 2,000 churches.  I find this article to discredit the previous articles on churches appealing to more youth because they have down a five year research study instead of just the testimony of church goers.

There is also the idea that religious nones is being handed out to broadly that people who claim to be religious nones and having no affiliation with religion isn’t the whole story.  78 percent of nones are from religious backgrounds.  Some admit to still have some beliefs and even participate in some religious activities even if they claim to have no affiliation.

According to Czamik “Churches Anticipate Large Christmas Attendance” Churches expect huge increase in worship attendance around this time of year especially on Christmas Eve and day. They predict that around 29 percent of the extra attenders are of the religious nones.  The writer talks about how some people claim to be religious nnes bot still have some belief in God.  This lead to a new kind of section of religion just the “who don’t know”.

Religious nones have been a huge part in the media this fall.  They have played a role in the election that even drove some people of faith to join them.  The media like to show them as the new progressive millennials.  Media for faith has shown us that they see what is happening and are trying to attract the younger.  One stat that was not found would be a study on how many religious nones come back to their religion.  All forms of media focused on white Christian youth.  The nones are categorized as a religion I some articles but through the class lectures and reading they don’t fit into a religious group especially through the definition being not affiliated with religion.  They don’t really have anything to make them a group besides just no religion. The media will continue to cover these nones especially during elections. Religious nones are new and growing group that can change the view of religion.


Works Cited

Ansberry, Clare. “Breaking Up With Your Church Over Politics.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones &Amp; Company, 4 Dec. 2016,

Campolo, Tony, and Shane Claiborne. “The Evangelicalism of Old White Men Is Dead.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Nov. 2016,

“Concerning the State of the American Church, Once Again: Is the Glass Half-Full or What?” GetReligion,

Editorial, Deseret News. “In Our Opinion: Instilling Faith in Children Is a Growing Challenge.”, 11 Dec. 2016,

@ElaineAyala. “An ‘Emerging Church’ Movement May Be Attracting ‘Nones’.” San Antonio Express-News,

@Emmillerwrites. “Study Finds Churches with Conservative Theology Still Growing.” Religion News Service, 22 Nov. 2016, “The Advent of God’s Absence – Progressive Youth Ministry.” Progressive Youth Ministry, 7 Dec. 2016,

Image), (Thinkstock. “Churches Anticipate Large Christmas Attendance.” C&G Newspapers,

@Kelsey_dallas. “Why Teens Leave the Faith and What Churches, Families Are Doing about It.”, 22 Nov. 2016,

Ozment, Katherine. “And Then There Were Nones: How Millennials’ Flight From Religion Is Transforming American Politics.” TPM, 17 Nov. 2016,

@Sojourners. “For Good or For Ill, White Christian America Is Still Alive.” Sojourners, 15 Nov. 2016,

“When Churches Fail – Anxious Bench.” Anxious Bench, 16 Nov. 2016,



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