The statistics from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reflect this shift where one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated. Within this group, only four percent currently identify as atheist or agnostic though an overwhelming 88 percent say they are not looking for a religion. Those hawking their wares on the Christian author/speaker circuit may promote a kind of Christianity beyond religion that promises to create an insurrection where love wins. But these nones will not be lured back. Like Elvis, they’ve left the building.
Since the Clergy Project established an online presence in 2011, this confidential resource for active and former clergy who no longer hold supernatural beliefs has grown from 52 to 470 members. Presently 80 percent or their members are based in the United States with the majority of these ex-clergy coming from evangelical and pentecostal traditions. While filming Refusing My Religion, a documentary about these religious leaders who’ve lost their faith and become atheist activists, co-directors Michael Dorian and Marc Levine documented a grassroots-level development of “godless congregations” (based on a Christian model) to provide people who’ve left religion with the “sense of community” they miss once they leave their churches.