The "NONES" are growing

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 1:24pm

There are some surprising results in the latest research on Americans and religion. A surprising number of our fellow citizens refuse to join any formal denomination. It’s about one-fifth of the population.

The Pew Center calls them the “NONES” because when you ask them their religious affiliation, that’s what they answer.

The Pew Forum on Religion conducts an annual survey of faith in the world. And they found that a growing number of Americans are not affiliated with any church or faith. Roughly a fifth of our neighbors claim no affiliation and among the young, between 18 and 29, it’s roughly a third. But only about 5% are declared atheists or agnostics.

Pew found that 68% of the unaffiliated say they believe in God or a universal spirit. The rest simply don’t care for organized religion. Many find it too concerned with money, power or politics. And the biggest drop in membership came among Protestants.

So, what are churches doing to reach the unaffiliated? “When preaching moves from patriotism to politics, you always get a backlash,” says Ken Warren, the Senior Associate Pastor at Green Acres Baptist Church.

“I think it’s a perception of the church. However, to some degree, churches have become move involved in the political agenda. So, some of that is not without merit.”

Many of these young non-members favor gay marriage or abortion.

“Our pastor has spoken candidly about both those issues, and so the nature of the position of the hearer, is what determines what the nature of that response is going to be,” Warren says.

Despite the downward trend though, Pew found that America is still the most religious nation in the industrialized world.

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