By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A new study released by Trinity College found that 15 percent of Americans say that while they believe in some kind of higher power, they do not associate with any particular religious denomination.
The study entitled, “American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population” was based on the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey which polled 54,000 adults. It found that 22 percent of adults age 18-29 claim to be without religion.
This number is expected to grow as youth replace an older and more pious generation. If this trend keeps up, within 20 years, researchers predict that a quarter of the American population may be without religion.
“Trends clearly favor this,” said lead researcher Barry Kosmin to USA Today. But he added: “There could be a Great Awakening or immigration may bring in more Catholic believers.”
Of the people claiming to have no religion, the majority “opted out” of their religion with 35 percent saying they were once Catholic.
A third of the people espousing no particular religion are of Irish descent, followed by Asians and Jews.
However, it should be pointed out that the 34 million Americans who claim to be without religion are not atheist. In fact, the majority – 59 percent – say they believe in a higher power.
Kosmin called the “nones” “a stew of agnostics, deists and rationalists,” describing them as being “skeptical about organized religion and clerics while still holding on to an idea of God.”
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