From Dr. Wayne Baker: Welcome back Terry Gallagher, who last week wrote about values associated with exchanging favors. Here is Terry’s first column in a new series …
Even though Losing My Religion became R.E.M.’s greatest global hit—the fact is that religion and religious affiliation remain strong in most parts around the world.
So, what do we make of the “Nones”—America’s most rapidly growing “religious” group? These are people who respond to pollsters’ standard questions about religious affiliation with the option: “None.” These millions of men and women now comprise nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population and a third of adults under age 30, according to reports from the Pew Research Center.
But the story isn’t as simple as a rejection of religion. In December, Wayne Baker explored this trend in an OurValues column and concluded: “Within this broad category, some people do have spiritual and religious beliefs—they just don’t identify with any specific religious group.”
Certainly, there are plenty of good reasons for thoughtful people to reject traditional religions and their constraints. To be clear, most of the Nones do not consider themselves atheists. In fact, many Nones have rich spiritual lives.
Care to meet someone who is a spiritual counselor to these folks? Tom Stella is the featured author interview this week in the main pages of Read The Spirit. Stella argues that we should welcome them and their points of view, even if they differ sharply from traditional religious beliefs.
The first question I hope you’ll consider this week in Our Values is this: Why are so many of us worried about these men and women? In some interesting new data from the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans—48 percent—say the growing number of “people who are not religious” is bad for American society.
While 11 percent say the trend is good for the country, 39 percent say that it doesn’t make much difference. Overall, then, we’re evenly split on whether to worry about our neighbors who have chosen not to make religious affiliation a part of their lives.
But, you’ve got to wonder: Why do these men and women make half of the population so nervous?
How about you?
Does it matter that traditional religious affiliation is declining?
Is it bad for the country? Or doesn’t it matter?
R.E.M.: Losing My Religion
Here is the entire song from the band R.E.M. Released in 1991, the song still ranks as the band’s highest-charting single. In interviews after the song’s release, singer and lyricist Michael Stipe explained the meaning in various ways: Once, he said it was a metaphor for losing one’s temper; more often, he said it was about romantic obsession with a loved one. But as this music video shows, the song has evolved into an anthem for spiritual seekers. (NOTE: If you don’t see a video screen in your version of this column, try clicking on the column’s headline to reload the page.)
- Losing My Religion: Are non-religious people bad for America?
- Losing My Religion: Do you know what SBNR means?
- Losing My Religion: When the light is brighter outside the church
- Losing My Religion: What exactly are the Nones leaving?
- Losing My Religion: Can we be religious without being spiritual?