The “Nones” are rising, at the expense of the Nuns.
From “Openly Secular“:
Recently, two studies have been released that affirm the number of nonreligious Americans is rising. For several years, the percentage of secular Americans has been increasing rapidly and the media has been reporting on it. But dig a little deeper, and it becomes abundantly clear that this new data is fundamentally different and demonstrates a significant shift in the hearts and mind of American citizens, and critically, American voters.
These new studies, one conducted by the Pew Research Center on Religion & Public Life, the other by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) reveal that not only are there more religiously unaffiliated Americans (often called “nones”), but more of these people are calling themselves atheists or agnostics. At the same time, the number of Americans who identify as Christians is shrinking.
Since 1993, the percentage of Americans who claim no formal religious affiliation has grown from 9% to 22% according to the PRRI study. No other group has risen as sharply. Not only is the overall number of unaffiliated Americans surging, a greater proportion of these “nones” are identifying as secular. The Pew study shows that 31% of the “nones”—representing 17 million Americans—self identify as atheist or agnostic, up from 25% in 2007. An additional 39% of the “nones” say that religion is not important to them, which means 15.8% of the total population of the United States is atheist, agnostic, or secular.
Almost sixteen percent of potential voters carries a lot of political clout. A group of voters this large who believe in the separation of church and state simply cannot be ignored.
“This data is particularly meaningful as the 2016 presidential election approaches,” says Todd Stiefel, Chair of Openly Secular. “For the first time, politicians will not be able to ignore the substantial voting bloc of secular Americans. We have real clout and we vote. As the number of secular people continues to rise, more and more Americans will come to realize that many of their loved ones, next-door neighbors and coworkers do not believe in God, and that they are still moral, good people.”