Nones are rising

November 14, 2016
The number of religiously non-affiliated people, according to the Pew Research Center, is rising. In 2007 they comprised 16 percent of Americans. In 2015 their percentage rose to 23 percent. Meanwhile, the number of Christians fell from 78 to 71 percent.

I do not mourn this, although I regularly attend Mass with Catholic religious sisters. Not all these nuns are so very different from nones. Both groups have spiritual values that transcend conventional bounds, but nuns express their spirituality in religious terms while nones express spirituality without religion.

At the same time that I feel at home with nuns, I identify with nones’ getting more inspiration from nature than from God-talk. Like nones, I have lost respect for institutional religion. My biggest criticism of Christianity is its God-images turned into gods by patriarchal language imposed on churches by the Vatican.

I hold it responsible for Pope Francis' lack of vision regarding women. I can’t say it better than I did in the Minneapolis StarTribune yesterday: “Avoid gendered God-talk”

Thank you to readers who sent me kudos for this.

December 5, 2016   Christian Nones?

I was wrong. Or more accurately stated, I gave out-of-date information in stating that 23% of Americans are nones. In 2016, 25% of all Americans are nones. This is the latest finding of the Pew Research Center. Think of it. The number of Americans who identify with no religion keeps rapidly rising.

The largest number of nones describe themselves as atheists and agnostics. They say they “don’t believe.” Examining the Pew Center’s data on nones more closely, I see they don’t affiliate with any religion because religions teach myths that science debunks. The atheists and agnostics I know reject religion for the same reason. And what is their devotion to truth but a mark of integrity? And what is integrity but a spiritual principle?

Nones, atheists, and agnostics—whatever they’re called—reject religion because it violates their spiritual principles, although they don’t put it that way. The next largest group of nones “dislike organized religion” because it abuses power and causes conflict, another spiritual principle shared with my atheist/agnostic acquaintances.

A few nones have the perspicacity to claim being spiritual but not religious. I think this characterizes most nones, atheists, and agnostics, whether or not they know it. The writings of atheists Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins disclose the inner integrity driving them.

I go to church, nones do not, but I feel closer to nones than to most churchgoers. My own life mirrors the rise of the none phenomenon. I left my church after college and tried to be an atheist because I did not believe the Father/Son myth. Reading Teilhard de Chardin, Carl Jung, and feminist theologians told me I didn’t fit in atheism. Then Al-Anon gave me the gift of my Higher Power, a non-denominational, compatible-with-science way of appealing for spiritual help and communicating with power vastly greater than human.

My Higher Power, my inner Beloved, the Christ in me (Galatians 2:20 and 4:19) guides me daily. Everything preached in church resonates with Higher-Power spirituality except those darn lords Father and Son.

When my mantra “God is not three guys in the sky” burbled up in me at the School of Theology in the 1980s, I felt alone and afraid. Surrounded by religious people earnestly preparing for church work, I did not dare say it, until I did. “God is not three guys in the sky,” I said in classes and in halls. No shocked looks. No reprimands. People around me seemed to understand. This awareness keeps growing, as the none phenomenon evinces.


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