The latest survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life proclaims that those who have no religious affiliation are increasing. This group is often call “the Nones” because they are likely to say “none of the above” when asked about their religious preference.
The report identifies a number of trends. Two that have been given the most attention are the decline in Protestants and the rise of “the nones.” The study asked nearly 3,000 adults nationwide this question: “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Orthodox such as Greek or Russian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, something else, or nothing in particular?”
No longer are Protestants a majority in America. Those who identified themselves as Protestant was 48 percent, which is a drop of five percent in the last five years. It is worth noting that in 1960, two-thirds of Americans defined themselves as Protestant.
The more significant trend was what Pew called “the rise of the Nones.” An increasing percentage of people are identifying themselves as religiously unaffiliated. The Pew study explains that the increase is due to the “growth in nondenominational Christians who can no longer be categorized as Protestant and a spike in the number of American adults who say they have no religion at all.”
Unfortunately, the study puts those two groups together when they significantly differ from each others. Many don’t categorize themselves as Protestant, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t Christian or at least believe in God. Two-thirds of the “Nones’ say they believe in God. They are very different from those people who say they have no religion at all. Only 2.4 percent of Americans describe themselves as atheist.
The Pew study should be a wake-up call to the church. We should reject the idea that the “Nones” are turning to atheism. But we should also realize that these religious unaffiliated people aren’t planning to attend your church services this Sunday. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.
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