I mentioned the new Pew Center report on religion in Good Morning News, but it's so exciting that I want to post about it again.
The report, titled Nones on the Rise (not to be confused with forthcoming Whoopi Goldberg-Vin Diesel action flick set in a convent, Nuns on the Rise) charts the decline of religious affiliation in the US. This is especially relevant during election season, when constant pandering to religious folks overshadows the now nearly 20 percent of us who don't really care whether the president attends church or not.
Check out these charts:
One big thing that's interesting about this report is that America still has very few atheists. Just 2.4 percent of Americans identify as atheists and 3.3 percent identify as agnostic. So while people are turning away from seeing themselves as part of a specific religion, they're still holding on to some sort of belief in God.
Portland sociologist Dr. Monica Miller is digging into this exact question. Oregon and Washington are the least religious states in the country and in a big study she's undertaking, Dr. Miller has been asking, basically: Why don't Portlanders go to church? What she's found so far is that young people are more likely to experience spirituality in places that aren't church—like out in nature. They are also more likely to identify things they hold sacred as things that don't correlate to a specific religion. From our interview in August:
We ask people, "What do you revere or hold sacred?" So far, a lot of the young people say the following things: nature, human interaction, love, respect, wilderness, meditation, the moon, community, "don't know, still searching," and "I don't believe in the word sacred, because we construct that idea." They could be hiking, sitting in the park, and find that sacred. It's disorienting for us because we're used to saying, "What places are religious for you?" But they don't have to go anywhere. It's more like a post-modern individualized spirituality.