529: Are you now—or have you ever been—a “None”? Want to meet one?

American sample of opinion

“The fastest growing faith community now consists of those with no faith community—but they’re not without faith.”
    The “Nones” are a red-hot “group” of Americans identified by pollsters who ask about religious affiliation. For many decades, researchers have tried to sort Americans into groups they can describe—and whose behavior they can predict. America is distinctive in the world for its strong religious beliefs and widespread religious practices.
    But, in recent years, pollsters have been noticing that a small but growing number of men and women answer, “None,” when they’re asked to give their religious affiliation. That “group” now is pushing 40 million in some estimates—the number depends on how pollsters ask the question.
    This week, Martin Davis—an expert on congregational resources at Alban—and Dan Cox of Public Religion Research invited me—ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm—to discuss our different approaches to understanding these millions of “Nones.” As it turned out, we agreed about a lot of things!
    Care to listen? Click on the link above to the Podcast page and you can download the MP3 file. If you use an iPod, then you know what to do with the file. If not, you can play the audio file on most standard computer operating systems.

Unaffiliated man praying outside

Meanwhile, are you a None yourself?
    If so, we’d like to hear from you: What’s your religious background?
    What causes you to say you have no religious affiliation now?
    And why do you think current categories of religious affiliation don’t seem to fit anymore?
    Click here to Email us, please.

Want to meet a None?
    Did you read our interview yesterday with “Mutts” cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, whose delightful new book, “Guardians of Being” (with Eckhart Tolle), is bound for a successful holiday shopping season among spiritual seekers.
    Well, Patrick is deeply spiritual—and he’s also a “None.”
    Here’s the exchange yesterday about his religious affiliation:
    DAVID: First question: How do you describe yourself religiously?
   
Based on the handful of excerpts you’ve selected from Tolle’s work—I’d
almost guess you’re a Buddhist. In the book, you champion concern for
the environment, you talk about the importance of compassion—and you
urge us to appreciate the “here and now.” You urge us to be “completely
present.” You even refer to “Zen masters.”
   
But, you also have sections in the book about “soul” and “divine
presence” and the “Creator.” So, how do you describe yourself
religiously?
   
PATRICK: I was born Roman Catholic. I wouldn’t call myself a Buddhist.
I kind of read everything about religion these days—Eckhart’s book in
particular. I was taken by the directness and simplicity of his
writing. I would call myself a spiritual person.
   
DAVID: Let me push you a little further. There’s one page where you
quote Tolle’s words: “We are immersed in a continuous stream of mental
noise. It seems that we can’t stop thinking.”
   
Again, that section of your book seems pretty Zen to me.
   
PATRICK: I think a lot of people can appreciate what’s being said there, whatever their religious background may be.

 Want to check out some of the research?

    Here’s a link to a 2009 story we published about the latest Pew research into Nones. The story outlines our own Top 10 insights into the data—and provides links back to the Pew site, as well.
    Want to go back a little further? Here’s a link to a 2008 story we published on Pew’s round of research that year.

Please, check out the Podcast via the link at top … enjoy the McDonnell interview, if you missed it … and drop us a line about a None you know. Perhaps it’s—you.

Please tell us what you think!

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    Not only do we welcome your notes—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
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    (Originally published at http://www.ReadTheSpirit.com/)

 

 

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