Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s biggest faith constituency

Mar 1, 2016

Photo credit: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post

By Michelle Boorstein

Joe Stone is part of an enormous but invisible voting constituency.

A “troubled atheist,” the retired Virginia accountant calls himself spiritual, celebrates Christmas and defines religious as the need to “do good.” He says organized religion — Christianity as well as Islam — has “gone off the deep end” and political candidates who emphasize the rightness of a certain faith turn him off. At the same time, Stone calls himself “religiously open-minded.”

When Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told a New Hampshire town hall last month that religion is a way of saying all people are connected, Stone agreed. “He is speaking directly to me,” he said.

Stone is part of a massive group of Americans who reject any label or affiliation to describe their faith. At 23 percent of the U.S. population, this left-leaning group called “Nones” are the Democratic parallel to the GOP’s white evangelicals — except without organization, PACs, leadership and a clear agenda. They do, however, have one big expectation of political candidates: Be ethical, and go light on the God talk.

The Nones’ impact will be tested on Super Tuesday, when multiple states with large unaffiliated populations hold contests: Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Colorado. So far, Sanders has a large edge among Nones.


Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

2 comments on “Meet the ‘Nones,’ the Democratic Party’s biggest faith constituency

  • @OP – A “troubled atheist,” the retired Virginia accountant calls himself spiritual, celebrates Christmas and defines religious as the need to “do good.”

    I see why someone who defines “religious” as the need to “do good”, and is “spiritual”, would be “troubled” as an atheist!

    He has only dumped half of the woo, and is still carrying confusing theist baggage!

    At the same time, Stone calls himself “religiously open-minded.”

    Isn’t that an oxymoron? You can be open minded, or religious, but both is a struggle!



    Report abuse

  • Yes Alan. What a strange paradox ‘religiously open minded’.
    Still with any luck people like that are headed in the right direction, much better than a bunch of right wing evangelicals.
    Perhaps a better label for many of the ‘nones’ would really be plain old agnostic. I see this as positive news, just a bit more convincing needed to explain the statistics of Gods existence and how unlikely it really is.
    Just as it was shown that many of those who were homophobic were actually gay. I always wonder if the most atheist ‘nones’ are to be found preaching evangelism.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.