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In Their Own Words: Why Religious “Nones” Are Leaving the Church

Group of multi-ethnic young people having fun together outdoors

The number of people who identify as not ascribing to any religion (also referred to as “nones”) is on the rise.

A new survey conducted by Pew Research asked religious “nones” why they no longer identify with a religious group. An article on the survey results clarifies the attributes of this demographic, stating, “They can be broken down into three broad subgroups: self-identified atheists; those who call themselves agnostic; and people who describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular.’”

The responses are intriguing and highly varied, as should be expected among a diverse demographic. However, a few themes emerged as Pew discussed the responses.

Lack of Belief

The most commonly given answer among those who grew up attending some kind of religious service was lack of belief. Specifically, things like science or logic were cited among this group. Some respondents got even more specific and said, “I don’t believe in miracles.”

Dislike of Organized Religion

One in five people cited a more definitive dislike of organized religion. One person expressed, “I see organized religious groups as more divisive than uniting.” Other people cited “The clergy sex abuse scandal” and “The church’s teachings on homosexuality.”

Unsure About Religion

Eighteen percent of the respondents said they are religiously unsure. As in “I believe in God, but in my own way.” The classic response of being “spiritual” but not religious also came up.

Inactive Religiously

One in 10 people are now “inactive” when it comes to religion. Meaning, they do not currently take part in religious practices for one reason or another. One of the reasons cited was being too busy.

A summary of the results can be seen in the table below:

Half of ‘nones’ left childhood faith over lack of belief, one-in-five cite dislike of organized religion

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for churchleaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.