Lots of readers wanted to talk about my story last Sunday about the jump in the number of “Nones” – U.S. adults with no religious affiliation. At last count, there were 224 online comments.
The big local news in the story: In North Carolina, Nones grew from 12 percent in 2007 to 20 percent; in South Carolina, from 10 percent to 19 percent.
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Readers speak up
First, here’s a sampling of reader comments (with how they identified themselves) on what Pew found – that “the Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.”
▪ “I follow the teachings of Jesus, but NOT the teachings of the Christian Church. I’ve been unaffiliated since I was 14. Religions are a psychological and social convention that some need in order to socialize their personal religious experience. I don’t need that to love God and my neighbor as myself.” – Tom Godbone
▪ “A falling away from the church doesn’t bother me. I did the same thing and when I came back, it felt like I had come home and the Lord had been waiting for me with open arms.” – Deborah Lewis
▪ “I am one of them (the Nones). Gaston County, former Southern Baptist. I can tell you that this is mostly due to the Internet, which has drastically expanded our access to knowledge and other ideas. I had never actually met an atheist or a liberal until I got an Internet connection for college.” – Richard Meeker
▪ “This merely shows the power of indoctrination. Our public schools allow no God or religion and in many cases they scorn faith. The media and Hollywood are very similar. Sadly, many young folks have allowed this Godless state to permeate their existence.” – Mike Johns
More Pew findings
Pew’s 201-page report fleshed out other details in America’s changing religious portrait:
▪ Christian groups are becoming more diverse. Racial and ethnic minorities now make up 41 percent of Catholics (up from 35 percent in 2007); 24 percent of evangelical Protestants (up from 19 percent); and 14 percent of mainline Protestants (up from 9 percent).
▪ Religious intermarriage is up. Among couples who have married since 2010, 39 percent are in religiously mixed marriages. The number was 19 percent among those married before 1960. Meanwhile, nearly 20 percent of marriages since 2010 paired a Christian with a religiously unaffiliated spouse. For those married before 1960, it was 5 percent.
▪ Evangelical Protestants are becoming more nondenominational. The share identifying with Baptist denominations has declined from 41 percent in 2007 to 36 percent. Those evangelicals who identify with nondenominational churches are on the rise, growing from 13 percent to 19 percent.
▪ Which religious tradition can claim the the most highly educated adherents? Hinduism. In America, 77 percent of Hindus are college graduates. Second place: Jews, with 59 percent graduating from college. The share of grads among all U.S. adults: 27 percent.