The Nones Become Many More

Tom Flynn

A survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in late September suggests that the “secularizing of America" that Free Inquiry readers have been eagerly anticipating, religious traditionalists have been dreading, and sociologists such as Rodney Stark have dismissed as a hoax is really taking place. Moreover, while nobody was looking, it seems to have gained enormous momentum. The title of the survey, which was partly funded by the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, reflects its explosive contents: “Exodus: Why Americans Are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back."

Since 1990, Free Inquiry has been covering the rise of the Nones—the sustained growth in the numbers of Americans who, when asked by pollsters for their religious identification, answer “None." Over that time, the number of U.S. adults who identify as Nones has ballooned from about 8 percent to 22.8 percent. That figure comes from 2015’s Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center.

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