Research indicates a possibility that people identify themselves as religious ‘nones’ because they perceive it to be socially more acceptable.
A new trend has been noticed among Americans where more and more youth tend to identify themselves as religious 'nones'. When asked their religious affiliations, these individuals say that they have no religious affiliations and choose to stay out of any religious community or institution. This is not to say that all of these respondents are atheists, however. This group of people include agnostics and even 'spiritualists' people who refuse to belong to any organized, institutional religion, but rather desire a more 'personal' experience of 'God'.
Pew research has found yet another reason as to why the number of religious 'nones' may be growing- social acceptance. Surprising as it may seem, youth today may be feeling that having religious affiliations would alienate them from a progressing world and so choose to refrain from revealing their beliefs. In other words, having no religious affiliation is seen as more socially acceptable than having any, among people today. Almost a fifth of Americans under 30 have declared that they do not belong to any institutional religion so far.
New data on what's driving growth of 'nones.' Not just that more people are being honest about their secularity. https://t.co/2GiLn8IX0m
— Tom Krattenmaker (@TKrattenmaker) September 15, 2016
Back in the 70s and 80s, the number of religious 'nones' was less than one-in-ten. Today, the overall count stands at 23%. America, however, was a religious nation, predominantly protestant. The Americans' shift from being religious to being 'nones' is mostly a matter of a generation which simply does not adhere to the beliefs that the previous generation professed. Besides, some experts theorize that those who now say they have no religious affiliation may have never had any all along. It's just that with time, having no religious beliefs has become more acceptable and so, the same people choose to openly accept their being 'nones'.
Another interesting finding of the research is that a young American who has no religious beliefs more easily identifies himself as a 'none' when compared to an older American who has the same level of beliefs. Perhaps this is due to the stigma and social ostracizing that people had to go through in the past if they chose to stay away from religion. The way society treats people who are not religious has drastically changed today. As such, it may not come as a surprise if young Americans are actually more confident about denying religion than older Americans.
Even as the findings of Pew suggest religion is decreasing in importance to Americans, a study by a researcher from Georgetown University, shows that the annual turnover of all religious congregations, organizations and other related institutions, combined, has tripled in the past 15 years. Needless to say the issue of being religious in America is one that is difficult to debate and reach a concrete conclusion on.