"Empty pews" by Jason Scott / CC BY 2.0

Is the rise of the nones slowing? Scholars say maybe

Feb 12, 2020

By Yonat Shimron

For the past 25 years, the number of Americans claiming no religion has steadily ballooned as more and more people quit church, synagogue or mosque and openly acknowledged being a  “none.”

The reality is particularly stark when looked at from a generational perspective. If 10% of people from the silent generation (born 1928-1945) consider themselves religiously unaffiliated, a whopping 40% of millennials (born 1981-1996) say they have no religion, according to Pew Research.

But this week, three political scientists who study religion have raised the possibility that the number of nones may be leveling off. Looking at a set of recent surveys, they suggest Generation Z, broadly defined as the 68 million Americans born after 1996, don’t look any less religious than the millennial generation that came before.

“I was just shocked to see it,” said Paul Djupe, a professor at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. “Everything led me to expect that (the number of nones) would keep increasing for a while.”

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One comment on “Is the rise of the nones slowing? Scholars say maybe”

  • These scholars compare the fraction of Gen Z “nothing in particular” with those of millenials. How could we even know. The oldest Gen Z would be about 22 or 23. Let them get out on their own and away from their gen-x parents.

    At least the RNS author does admit to the flimsiness of their analysis:

    Admittedly, the datasets are limited. They include surveys from 2018 and 2019. And there isn’t a lot of data on Gen Z because the oldest among them are 23 and pollsters generally don’t poll people younger than 18.

    But they do suggest at least a momentary pause in the secularization march.

    I trust the Pew analysis, which shows steady growth in non-affiliation among all age groups, more than the wishful thinking of Religious News Service. Their latest is here:https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/


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