I often think I hear colleagues asking, “How could we attract nuns to our church?” Actually they’re talking about “the nones,” of course. One of the clearest findings of the Pew Forum’s new religious landscape study is that fewer and fewer people have any religious affiliation at all. Catholics and mainline Protestants show the biggest drop.
I know a guy, a committed church member, who missed his own grandchild's baptism. It was far away, on a Sunday that was a busy one for his own church. So he felt compelled to skip the trip and go to church.
This impressed me. It's hard to imagine such a thing at the church where I work.
Last week Pew released some more data from its spring survey on the rise of the nones. They asked people if they thought the growing number of "people who are not religious" is good, bad or neutral for American society. One interesting finding: while most of the nones said neutral, nearly as many said "bad" as "good." Almost a fifth of the nones think the growth of the nones—of their own group—is bad for society.
We hear a lot about the "nones" these days: Americans who claim no connection to any particular faith. We'll hear a lot more too, as recent studies document this ever-expanding slice of the American demographic pie. We hear less, however, about the nones as individuals. But like any pastor, I’ve known more than a few in my time. At 20 percent of society, they are literally everybody's friends and neighbors.