Hey, a poll with good news! The rise of the “nones” continues, via the Washington Post:
One-fifth of U.S. adults say they are not part of a traditional religious denomination, new data from the Pew Research Center show, evidence of an unprecedented reshuffling of Americans’ spiritual identities that is shaking up fields from charity to politics.
Note: This does not mean that 1/5th of the nation is either an atheist or an agnostic. If you see any atheist blogs making this claim, please point out that they are wrong. I would love that to be the case, but it just isn’t. I have seen atheists try to spin similar polls in the past in that way, but as the Washington Post says: (Bolding is mine, as always)
But despite their nickname, the “nones” are far from godless. Many pray, believe in God and have regular spiritual routines.
Their numbers have increased dramatically over the past two decades, according to the study released Tuesday. About 19.6 percent of Americans say they are “nothing in particular,” agnostic or atheist, up from about 8 percent in 1990. One-third of adults under 30 say the same. Pew offered people a list of more than a dozen possible affiliations, including “Protestant,” “Catholic,” “something else” and “nothing in particular.”
But this is still great news not only for atheists/agnostics, but for everyone who cares about separation of church and state.
“We think it’s mostly a reaction to the religious right,” said Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, who has written at length about the decline in religious affiliation. “The best predictor of which people have moved into this category over the last 20 years is how they feel about religion and politics” aligning, particularly conservative politics and opposition to gay civil rights.
The nones are strongly liberal on social issues, including abortion and same-sex marriage, but no different from the public overall and the religiously affiliated on their preference for a smaller government providing fewer services.
If they have an issue, it’s that they don’t believe religion and politics should mix. Only a third of them say it matters if the president is a believer. Three-quarters of the affiliated think it matters.