This week, Morning Edition explores the "nones" — Americans who say they don't identify with any religion. Demographers have given them this name because when asked to identify their religion, that's their answer: "none."
In October, the Pew Research Center released a study, 'Nones' on the Rise, that takes a closer look at the 46 million people who answered none to the religion question in 2012. According to Pew, one-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, a trend that has for years been on the rise. (A more recent Gallup poll shows the uptick in religious nones slowed a bit from 2011 to 2012.)
In a nutshell, the group:
- comprises atheists and agnostics as well as those who ally themselves with "nothing in particular"
- includes many who say they are spiritual or religious in some way and pray every day
- overwhelmingly says they are not looking to find an organized religion that would be right for them
- is socially liberal, with three-quarters favoring same-sex marriage and legal abortion
Perhaps most striking is that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. When comparing this with previous generations under 30, there's a new wrinkle, says Greg Smith, a senior research at Pew.
"Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell," Smith tells NPRMorning Edition co-host David Greene. "This really is something new."