Secularism grows as more U.S. Christians turn ‘churchless’

Oct 26, 2014

Graphic courtesy of Barna Group

By Cathy Lynn Grossman

If you’re dismayed that one in five Americans (20 percent) are “nones” — people who claim no particular religious identity — brace yourself.

How does 38 percent sound?

That’s what religion researcher David Kinnaman calculates when he adds “the unchurched, the never-churched and the skeptics” to the nones.

He calls his new category “churchless,” the same title Kinnaman has given his new book. By his count, roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually “post-Christian” and “essentially secular in belief and practice.”

If asked, the “churchless” would likely check the “Christian” box on a survey, even though they may not have darkened the door of a church in years.

Kinnaman, president of the California-based Barna Group, slides them into this new category based on 15 measures of identity, belief and practice in more than 23,000 interviews in 20 surveys.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

19 comments on “Secularism grows as more U.S. Christians turn ‘churchless’

  • 3
    aquilacane says:

    Church is an afterthought and not consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Church is only mentioned a couple times in the bible and it has nothing to do with a building. The “no church” people could simply be actual practicing Christians and not the poser bunch who go to church.



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  • It’s just a shame that those 38% are not all atheists. Most of them are still infected by faith, which means that it will be easier to lure them into other faith based activities in the future, whether these activities will be in Christian circles, other religions or just other groups embracing mumbo-jumbo like astrology, faith healing, etc. The only good thing about people losing connection to churches is that then the influence that organized religions have over politics will inevitably weaken. But as I said, even without spending time in churches, most of these people are still in the clutches of irrationality and that can be used by people with no good intentions.



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  • Agreed. Organized religions are just one head on the hydra of faith-based thinking. While it’s an encouraging sign, cutting one head off doesn’t solve the problem of the other heads, and might actually make them worse. Can you imagine what would happen if New Age religions and other “minor” kinds began to increase in size?

    I’ll feel some progress has been made when I see atheism specifically become the majority position (i.e. claim the highest percentage of the population among all religious and irreligious positions, like 30%-40%). Better still if it reaches above 50%.



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  • Just anecdotal, but ISTM that people just have other attractions in their lives these days, whether it be the World Series, Strictly Come Dancing, which celebrity has been shagging which other celebrity, and the like. ISTM that many people just don’t have the time for poor old God !

    Nice to see the USA going the way of the European countries in this respect.



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  • Don’t take the quiz. There are too many questions that assume you are religious, like “Do you want to tell everyone about your faith ?” How do you answer that if you have no religious faith, but are quite happy to tell people you are a skeptic/agnostic/atheist ?



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  • I had to look for that quiz, and now I feel dirty, thanks! 🙂

    It’s really weird. The quiz is directly addressed to the fringe Christian population, yet ask if we are atheists from the get go? I don’t think they understand the term, all the questions are completely irrelevant to what would constitute an atheist mindset.

    “Jesus never committed sins”? What do you mean by ‘sin’! Well then, I suppose not, since he probably didn’t even exist in the first place. Oh, wait, I see what you did there…

    It’s be hilarious though if they actually added atheist-type replies.

    “I have prayed to God in the last year” : Atheist. Get it?
    “I made a commitment to Jesus that is still important in my life” : Who? Am I married to that dude or something?
    “My faith is important in my life” : I don’t have that funny thing you call faith.
    “The Bible is accurate in all it teaches” : In what universe?
    “I feel a personal responsibility to share my faith” : I feel a personal responsability to slap you out of it.



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  • I did the quiz and scored 7 or – Pretty Secular
    My question is this; I should have scored 0! What did I have to do in order to score 0? Pretty secular! I’m totally secular!
    What was the aim of this quiz?
    I thought it was ridiculous!



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  • obzen Oct 28, 2014 at 4:39 am

    I had to look for that quiz, and now I feel dirty, thanks! 🙂

    It’s really weird. The quiz is directly addressed to the fringe Christian population, yet ask if we are atheists from the get go? I don’t think they understand the term, all the questions are completely irrelevant to what would constitute an atheist mindset.

    In the interests of science, clarity, and coherent questioning beyond box-ticking :-

    Test yourself by Barna’s 15 measures to see if you’re post-Christian, too. (Yes – No -Not sure –
    Agree strongly – Agree somewhat – Disagree)

    I believe in God – Which one(s)?

    My faith is important in my life – Faith in what?

    Jesus never committed sins – Please remove circular thinking, and translate into a coherent question using defined terms!

    The Bible is accurate in all it teaches – Which of its multitude of self-contradictions did you have in mind?

    I feel a personal responsibility to share my faith – Can I recommend psychiatric treatment.

    This is a test in the “faith-thinking” which produces knee-jerk answers from preconceptions in the faithful.

    eg. The question: “The Bible is accurate in all it teaches“, could have atheists and theological scholars give the same negative answer.

    It could also show dementure!
    I have read the Bible in the last week – Not sure ???????

    The only rational conclusion which can be drawn from this, is that they had no idea how to construct a test which would produce usable or meaningful answers.



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  • Alan.
    The only rational conclusion which can be drawn from this, is that they had no idea how to construct a test which would produce usable or meaningful answers.

    Yes, this must be one of the worse surveys I’ve ever seen! Worthy of a poor quality magazine.



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  • 14
    aplinthjr says:

    It seems to me “churchless” is ill defined. Does “churchless” equate to atheist &/or agnostic? Each of my closest 10 friends says that (s)he believes in some sort of well-defined or nebulous wu-wu god (I’ve polled them) but nary a one of them goes to a church/mosque/temple/ziggurat/mithraeum/kiva but for funerals and weddings. Are these people “churchless”? If so, I don’t see the term as very useful. One might as well call someone who doesn’t go to art galleries “galleryless,” but that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t appreciate art.



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  • aplinthjr Oct 28, 2014 at 11:42 am

    The increasing secularism does seem to be increasing churchlessness in the sense of numbers in a sheeple community.

    It seems to me “churchless” is ill defined.

    However, in the architectural sense, churches persist in improved forms, as showrooms, country cottages etc.

    https://www.churchofengland.org/clergy-office-holders/pastoralandclosedchurches/closedchurches/closed-churches-available.aspx
    Around twenty Church of England church buildings are closed for worship each year. The list shown below gives information about buildings that are available for disposal and are being marketed for a suitable alternative use.

    http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/structure/representative-body/property/redundant-churches/
    The list below provides details of redundant churches that are currently available for sale. The properties are usually offered freehold with certain restrictions upon future use and further information can be obtained from the appointed selling agent.



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  • 18
    aquilacane says:

    So true, I am actually a galleryless artist. Galleries bother me for two reasons. 1: Artists feel the need to explain their art, which suggests art is a poor medium to get their point across. 2: I have no interest in what artists are doing.



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  • aquilacane Oct 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    So true, I am actually a galleryless artist.

    Some galleryless artists near me bought up a redundant church.
    The stained glass windows give a really good light effect to display their artistically designed mirrors and glassware in this new showroom-studio since they converted it to a sales gallery!



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