religious nones

According to a new survey, U.S. residents who don’t have any religious affiliation are down for the first time in years. Recently published Pew Research says that Americans who are religiously unaffiliated, often referred to as “nones,” declined to 28 percent.

Pew said of the findings, “The identical results we’ve found in three of the five years are a sign of stability in the size of this population. At the same, in two of the last five years, we’ve obtained readings above 28 percent.” The findings indicate a break from ongoing trends in Pew reports showing the steady climb of “nones.” Religious disaffiliation has previously been observed on a steady climb since Pew began tracking the data in 2007.

In 2015, the number of “nones” approached 25% before a slight drop in 2016. This was followed by a course correction that continued to climb until last year. In 2021, approximately 29 percent of respondents self-identified as “nones.” By 2022, the number of “nones” peaked at 31 percent. Pew’s new findings suggest a three percent drop through 2023. The think tank reports that the single data point is insufficient to determine if religious disaffiliation has plateaued or if it is an anomaly in their methodology.

Pew wrote of the 2023 findings, “Although it’s possible that the ‘nones’ have leveled off, it’s also possible that their growth has continued, but at a gradual pace that is difficult to see in the data due to the natural fluctuations that can occur in survey estimates. Pew Research Center will continue monitoring the religious’ nones.’ Soon, with more data in hand, we’ll be in a better position to judge whether the 2023 estimate marked a turning point for the “nones” or was just a blip on the way to continued growth.”

Religiously disaffiliated respondents did not hold uniform beliefs, nor were they distinctly atheistic or agnostic. Many “nones” reported a sense of spirituality or belief in God but did not believe religious affiliation was necessary, beneficial, or the correct decision for themselves.

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