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I am not a None—One of the Religious Unaffiliated

The Unaffiliated Nones by Patti Greene
Written by Patti Greene

I am NOT a none. I have never desired to be a none! And with God’s grace, I will never become a none. So, what is a none? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines nones as “the ninth day before the ides according to ancient Roman reckoning” or “the fifth of the canonical hours”.

However, those are not the nones being spoken about in this article. I am talking about the nones as defined in the Oxford University Press website in an article titled “3 Things You Might Not Know About Nones” by Elizabeth Drescher. Drescher defines nones as “a name for people who answer ‘none’ when asked what religious group they most identify or to which they belong.”

It is based on this definition, I will be providing informational quotes from various writers and researchers that will provide enough information for you to understand and intelligently discuss nones with others. In addition, I have included links for easy location of the entire articles.

Currently, nones or my personally made-up word noneship are not within my everyday vernacular or even official words yet, but I daresay that in the next few years, they will join the Merriam Webster’s New Dictionary Word List along with their most recent newest words such as cryptocurrency, wordie, Chiweenie, Schnoodle, ooh, mm-hmm, and welp.

Who is a None?

Becka Alper from Pew Research says, “a growing share of Americans are religiously unaffiliated. [They] recently asked a representative sample of more than 1,300 of these “nones” why they choose not to identify with a [particular] religion.

Out of several options included in the survey, the most common reason they give is that they question a lot of religious teachings. Six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated Americans – adults who describe their religious identity as an atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – say the questioning of religious teachings is a very important reason for their lack of affiliation.

The second-most-common reason is opposition to the positions taken by churches on social and political issues, cited by 49% of respondents (the survey asked about each of the six options separately). Smaller, but still substantial, shares say they dislike religious organizations (41%), don’t believe in God (37%), consider religion irrelevant to them (36%) or dislike religious leaders (34%).”

Alper, Becka. “Why America’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion.” Pew Research Center. 8 Aug 2018.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/08/why-americas-nones-dont-identify-with-a-religion.

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“The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages.”

“America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” Pew Research Center. 5 May 2015.

http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

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“Curiously, the religiously unaffiliated are “about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives.”

  • 63 are either registered Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%)
  • 72% support legal abortion
  • 73% support same-sex marriage

Hess, Andrew. “The rise of the nones.” Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/about/focus-findings/family-formation-trends/rise-of-the-nones

What is Interesting about the Nones?

“Look at any survey about the state of religion and you will find the same story of decline. Fewer Americans today than in past decades identify with a religion, attend church, engage in religious practices, and view faith as an important part of their lives. Those who advocate the secularization of society applaud such cultural change because they see it as evidence that people are turning away from all things supernatural. However, these trends may be less about our abandoning the supernatural and more about our abandoning each other.”

Routledge, Clay. “Americans quit church but still search for meaning, now as loners.” Nation Review. 14 July 2018.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/traditional-religion-has-social-value-individual-quests-leave-people-isolated/

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This seems like a circular argument: “The nones are growing because the nones are growing! But sociologically, it makes a kind of sense. Some nonbelievers might have stayed in organized religion in previous generations just because it was socially expected, and there were consequences for not joining the religious crowd. The numeric growth of the nones has removed some of those barriers so that other closeted nones feel more comfortable leaving religion too. There is an infrastructure and support system for them.”

Riess, Jana. “Why millennials are really leaving religion (it’s not just politics, folks). Religion News Service. 26 June 2018.

https://religionnews.com/2018/06/26/why-millennials-are-really-leaving-religion-its-not-just-politics-folks/

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“In 2014, 23% of adult Americans identified as what media and academics have come to refer to as religious “nones.” Although the term covers a lot of territory—atheist, agnostic, unaffiliated, “nothing in particular,” and “spiritual but not religious”—it does not include anyone who identified with a particular faith tradition.”

Winston, Diane. “Millennials and the ‘none’: Why 40 years of religion in US Elections may change in 2015. Vice News. 30 June 2015.

https://news.vice.com/article/millennials-and-the-nones-why-40-years-of-religion-in-us-elections-may-change-in-2015

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Nones are building communities in myriad ways, some of them more organized than others. From meditation groups to the very church-like Sunday Assemblies,  the religiously unaffiliated are finding ways to connect with one another.”

Blumberg, Antonia. “How the ‘Nones’ can find a sense of community outside of religion.” Huffington Post. 22 July 2015.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/religiously-unaffiliated-nones-community_us_55afe508e4b0a9b948535f3a

Why Do the Nones Believe Like They Do?

“Today’s young nones, immersed in their online lives, may feel as though they are very connected. But as many are collectively realizing, online connections are weaker than advertised. We may have many [acquaintances] within digital reach, but numerous online relationships are no substitute for deep, real-life friendships. Similarly, a wave of spirituality apps promises to supercharge your mindfulness and positive thinking. Although beneficial, app spirituality, too, leads to a solitary practice.”

Asma, Stephen. “Religiously unaffiliated ‘none’ are pursuing spirituality, but not community.” L.A. Times. 6 June 2018.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-asma-nones-spirituality-20180607-story.html

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“As a pastor, as a researcher, as an educator, as just a Christian who cares, the single greatest contributor to the attrition rate [of the Christian faith] has been the breakdown of the family,” McFarland said in an interview with the Christian Post.

Blair, Leonardo. “Parent Failure to Transmit Faith to Kids Helping Fuel Growth of Religious ‘Nones,’ Study Suggests.” Christian Post. 20 Sept 2018.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/parent-failure-transmit-faith-kids-helping-fuel-growth-religious-nones-study-227489/

How Can the Nones Come to Know Christ?

An important new survey by Pew Research asks, “why people who were raised in religious homes but who now identify as religious “nones” — having no religious affiliation — decided to leave the faith of their childhood. The results were varied, but according to the survey, “Half of ‘nones’ left childhood faith over lack of belief, one-in-five cite dislike of organized religion.

So today, America needs another great awakening, one which will convert the unconverted, restore the backslidden, and set the complacent on fire. Whether they know it or not, the “nones” are crying out for this very thing.”

“God’s solution to the ‘Nones’ who have left the faith.”  The Stream. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

https://stream.org/gods-solution-nones-left-faith

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Conclusion

So how can you know God? It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection (Romans 5:10)

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, [A]men.

“How do I accept Jesus as my savior.” In Touch. Accessed 21 Sept 2018.

 https://www.intouch.org/read/content/how-do-I-accept-Jesus-as-my-savior

While some people have no idea what is their purpose in life, some are convinced their life journey is to seek knowledge, to pursue status, to become wealthy, to promote tolerance, to reproduce or a host of other purposes.

The bottom-line is, what do we believe is the meaning of life?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we should believe that our purpose is to fulfill what God has appointed us to accomplish on this earth. When the spiritual dimension of life is void of the Trinity—God, the Father; Jesus, the Son; and the Holy Spirit, we become part of the none community. Let’s not let that happen!

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Bible Verses:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to believe in You. Help me to see You with new eyes. If You are real, let me know that. I’m tired of the life I am living. I want to know that beyond what I can see, there is a God that loves me and wants what is best for me. Help me to leave my proud behavior and unbelieving thoughts at Your feet. I want to know if You are real. Amen.

God Bless.

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Edited by E. Johnson

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About the author

Patti Greene

Patti Greene is the author of three outstanding devotional prayer journals, Answer Me, Anchor Me, and Awaken Me and a book titled "Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending." Patti earned a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and pursued graduate studies in religious education and library science spending two years as a second-grade teacher. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, Greene spent 18 more years as a school librarian in St. Louis, Missouri and Houston, Texas. When not writing books or blogs, Greene spends her time caregiving, reading, researching, and hanging out with her family and friends. Patti and her husband have three adult children and five grandchildren. Visit her blog at GreenePastures.org.

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