The Unaffiliated Are Not the Unreachable: Understanding and Reaching the Nones

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The religiously unaffiliated are the fastest growing group in the U.S.—How do we reach them?

The group known as the “nones” have fairly quickly become the predominant religious story in America. Nones—not to be confused with nuns—are the fastest growing religious group in America. The term refers to people who select “none of the above” when they’re asking a question on a religious questionnaire, they’re not necessarily atheists; in fact, most aren’t. They’re not necessarily anti-religious; some of them believe in God.

A more precise term would be the “religiously unaffiliated.” Depending upon which study you look at, as many as one-third of the nones plan to go back to church one day. They’re generally not all anti-God, though some are.

To summarize:

  • Nones are people who identify as religiously unaffiliated
  • They represent a rapidly growing section of the U.S. population:
    • They are the fastest-growing religious category in the U.S.
    • They are the second-largest religious category in U.S.

As the charts below demonstrate, a smaller share of adults identify as Christian over the past several years, while the nones have grown.

The Pew Research Center also notes:

The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

That’s a pretty staggering uptick in the numbers of religiously unaffiliated people. What do we …

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