For religiously unaffiliated, numbers and acceptance are related

100 Questions and Answers About the Religiously Unaffiliated book cover

100 Questions and Answers About the Religiously Unaffiliated

The part of the U.S. population that does not belong to a formal religion has been growing — or is not. Researchers seem to be in a wait-and-see mode.

This group is the subject of a new Bias Busters guide to be published in early March.

A Pew Research Center update on the religiously unaffiliated this week ended with a question mark.

“In Pew Research Center’s 2023 polling,” the article said, “28 percent of U.S. adults are religiously unaffiliated, describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or simply ‘nothing in particular’ when asked about their religion.

“That’s marginally lower than our surveys indicated in 2022 and 2021, and identical to what we found in 2020 and 2019, which raises a question: After decades of sharp growth, has the rise of these religious ‘nones’ ended?

“At the risk of sounding wishy-washy, we think it’s too early to tell.”

Our Michigan State Bias Busters guide, which favors the term “religiously unaffiliated” to “nones,” reports that a Gallup researcher was also on the fence. Here’s a question and answer from the upcoming Bias Busters guide:

What explains the rapid growth of this group?
… “In 2022, Gallup senior scientist Frank Newport offered another explanation. He noted that Gallup’s percentages of religiously unaffiliated people had stabilized around 20 percent between 2017 and 2022.He hypothesized that the numbers reflect rising cultural acceptance of being nonreligious. This increased people’s comfort levels in telling this to researchers. He foresees growth in nonaffiliation.”

Growing or shrinking or more willing to admit what has been, for some, an unpopular choice, the religiously unaffiliated remain a significant group of the U.S. population.

Look for “100 Questions and Answers About the Religiously Unaffiliated” and 20 more Bias Busters guides to help you know your neighbors in our Amazon bookstore.

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