Nones Growth Exponential – Atheists And Agnostics Up 50%

nones!  The Pew Forum on religion and public life has released more great news for nones!

Post by Phil Ferguson.  Follow me and the blog on twitter. [email protected]

The title of their new report is “Nones” on the rise – One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation.

It is packed with great news.  20% of all adults now self define as religiously unaffiliated and a full 1/3 for those under 30 years of age.  The focus of the report is on the dramatic change in the last five years and I will talk about that below.  What I noticed is that the age groups get smaller and smaller (fewer years).  When I plotted the data by birth year the best trend line is not linear but exponential.

Rise of the nones.

Rise Of The Nones - Exponential Growth
Note the R Squared of 0.93.  This is a very strong relationship.

Things are bad for religion and they are going to get much worse.  If this exponential trend holds for just a few years, more than half of Americans will be “nones” by the birth year of 2008.  As all of these groups age and the older generations die the rise of the nones will continue.  America could have atheism rates similar to Europe within my life time.

More great charts and tables from the new report.

Nones have grown from 15 to 20% an increase of 25% in just 5 years.

They also note that 88% of the “nones” are not looking for a religion.  It is likely that they will stay nones.

Pew also had this amazing chart on the rise of the nones.  Notice that every mainline religion is down and the nones are up.  Atheist and Agnostic are each up 50% in just 5 years!


Pew gives some explanation to the rise of the nones.

 One important factor behind the growth of the religiously unaffiliated is generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. Among the youngest Millennials (those ages 18-22, who were minors in 2007 and thus not eligible to be interviewed in Pew Research Center surveys conducted that year), fully one-third (34%) are religiously unaffiliated…

There is also growth within age groups as more people leave religion.

Generation Xers and Baby Boomers also have become more religiously unaffiliated in recent years. In 2012, 21% of Gen Xers and 15% of Baby Boomers describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up slightly (but by statistically significant margins) from 18% and 12%, respectively, since 2007.

People are more willing to admit that they are not part of a religion.  It is getting easier to say that you are an atheist or at least don’t belong to a church.

Part of the reason that the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown in recent years is that Americans who are not particularly religious – at least by conventional measures, such as self-reported rates of attendance at religious services – increasingly describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

It is also amazing that this trend is for men and women, black and white, all income groups and regions of the country.


The rise of the nones is on the edge of affecting politics in a big way.  Most nones – 75% lean Democratic.

Today, the religiously unaffiliated are clearly more numerous than any of these groups within the Democratic coalition (24% unaffiliated, 16% black Protestant, 14% white mainline Protestant, 13% white Catholic).

As this trend continues the Democratic party must embrace us as a group and when they do, they will lock in a large percent of the vote.

National secular groups praise the rise of the nones….

Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance

“We would love to see the political leaders lead on this issue, but we are perfectly content with them following these demographic trends, following the voters…”

“As more of the voters are unaffiliated and identifying as atheist and agnostics, I think the politicians will follow that for votes.”

“We won’t be dismissed or ignored anymore…”

American Atheists Jubilant Over Latest Religion Report

 This report is a confirmation of the social shift occurring in the U.S., allowing scores of atheists to come out openly, and moving the U.S. from a predominantly religious nation to a more secular nation.

David Silverman, President of American Atheists said, “We’re seeing a marked shift in the religion bias of our country. Many atheists are ‘coming out’ and openly declaring their non-belief to friends, family, and co-workers. The prejudice still exists, but the statistics prove that the stranglehold of religion is quickly fading away, and being replaced by a more tolerant, secular society.”

 American Humanist Association

 “Millions of Americans are discovering that religion isn’t required in order to lead a moral and purposeful life,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

Traditional religions may be unwittingly accelerating the secularization. Speckhardt explained, “We’re seeing evidence that our numbers are bolstered when there’s religious opposition to progress on issues like same-sex marriage, women’s reproductive freedom, and concern for the environment. Young people especially can’t stomach such backward thinking.”

Center for Inquiry

 “Though the ‘unaffiliated’ are not entirely made up of nonbelievers, the fact that one in five Americans have rejected traditional religion means that the enormous influence religion has had over policy and culture will continue to wane,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Furthermore, thanks to the high percentage of ‘nones’ among the younger generations, these numbers tell us that we are closer than ever to realizing a society in which religious dogma has no significant influence on public policy—that is, a society based on reason and science rather than myth and superstition.”

Here is part of the story as seen on CNN!

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