Who Is Non-Religious In America?

Sociological Images reports on a fascinating study that you may have missed the first time around — the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, which reveals much about the U.S. atheist/agnostic/”spiritual-but-non-religious” population (referred to as Nones). Perhaps what stands out most is just how “normal” the average American non-religious person is. Demographically, Nones look just like broader populace — being non-religious cuts almost uniformly across income and education levels and racial groups (disproving stereotypes of, for instance, African Americans as being more religious than other groups).

So what is notable about the non-religious? The None population skews male, skews young, has shifted leftwards politically over the last two decades, and, for some reason, is extremely Irish. People of Irish decent comprise a third of U.S. non-religious despite being only 12 percent of the general population. Click the above links for more data.

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38 Comments on "Who Is Non-Religious In America?"

  1. So being Non-Religious is the One True Religion that unites us all?
    Irony is a funny thing.

  2. So being Non-Religious is the One True Religion that unites us all?
    Irony is a funny thing.

    • wait. if theres any correlation, maybe being non-religious is the religion that unites people with money. Thats a scary and also interesting thought.

      • Threedinium | Apr 30, 2011 at 7:57 am |

        From a business perspective I would imagine a country of non-religious individuals would be ideal?

  3. wait. if theres any correlation, maybe being non-religious is the religion that unites people with money. Thats a scary and also interesting thought.

  4. mrtastycakes | Apr 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    “Spiritual-but-not-religious” is like “democracy-but-not-elections.”

  5. mrtastycakes | Apr 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm |

    “Spiritual-but-not-religious” is like “democracy-but-not-elections.”

    • Not necessarily. You can be mindful of the world and your place in it without needing a god or the supernatural as cause for doing right or punishment for doing wrong.

      Frankly, I wish more people were spiritual but not religious. The world would be a hell of a lot better place.

      And I would class fundamentalists (of all religions) as the opposite of that: religious-but-not-spiritual.

      • If you are “mindful of the world and your place in it without needing a god or the supernatural as cause for doing right or punishment for doing wrong”, then you are atheist. Spiritualism is different, and it is essentially a religion in all of its forms that I have observed.mindful of the world and your place in it without needing a god or the supernatural as cause for doing right or punishment for doing wrong”, then you are atheist. Spiritualism is different, and it is essentially a religion in all of its forms that I have observed.

    • grenichgrendel | Apr 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm |

      I’ve heard that kind of comparison before. I understand they are meant to be witty, but only if you don’t understand the distinction between the two. Religion requires you to subscribe to a specific dogma of one sort or another and abide by it’s tenets. Spirituality is a sense of connection with something you perceive as divine, which can occur either within the context of a religion, or outside of it. So “democracy but not elections” would be more analogous to belonging to a religion with out any real spiritual experience. I think. I am trying to type this with a small child wandering around and whining about a missing flip-flop, and I have auditory filtering issues, so it’s kind of messing with me.

    • psywalker | Sep 17, 2011 at 1:29 am |

      That’s because ‘elections’ are part of an illusion.

  6. Anonymous | Apr 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

    Not necessarily. You can be mindful of the world and your place in it without needing a god or the supernatural as cause for doing right or punishment for doing wrong.

    Frankly, I wish more people were spiritual but not religious. The world would be a hell of a lot better place.

    And I would class fundamentalists (of all religions) as the opposite of that: religious-but-not-spiritual.

  7. Anonymous | Apr 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm |

    Well, regarding the disproportionate amount of Irish descent, think what religion has done to Ireland in just the last couple hundred years. How many of us in the States of Irish descent are here because our ancestors were fleeing the sectarian strife and problems it caused? If you pay attention to your heritage, that kind of history will either make you cling more strongly to your religion, or it will drive you from religion entirely (I know I fall into the second category there).

  8. Well, regarding the disproportionate amount of Irish descent, think what religion has done to Ireland in just the last couple hundred years. How many of us in the States of Irish descent are here because our ancestors were fleeing the sectarian strife and problems it caused? If you pay attention to your heritage, that kind of history will either make you cling more strongly to your religion, or it will drive you from religion entirely (I know I fall into the second category there).

  9. AS a Spiritual but not religious type, I class atheists right in there with religious fundamentalists. I have had many discussions with both types and their ways of thinking have way more in common with each other’s than they do with mine.

  10. AS a Spiritual but not religious type, I class atheists right in there with religious fundamentalists. I have had many discussions with both types and their ways of thinking have way more in common with each other’s than they do with mine.

    • Amberbear | Apr 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm |

      What they have in common is the absolute surety that they are right. I agree completely with you, Rick. I classify myself as agnostic and I HATE being lumped in with the atheists.

      • The vast majority of atheists consider atheism to be what agnosticism should me. “agnostic” literally means “one who does not know”, and, as most atheists simply like to say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Atheism makes no claims, and is therefore the null hypothesis. There is insufficient evidence, therefore most atheism IS agnosticism.

  11. Amberbear | Apr 21, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    What they have in common is the absolute surety that they are right. I agree completely with you, Rick. I classify myself as agnostic and I HATE being lumped in with the atheists.

  12. Irish is easily explained. The Irish Catholics who have given up on Catholicism aren’t about to join the Protestants… so they go Pagan, Spiritual, or Atheist.

  13. Irish is easily explained. The Irish Catholics who have given up on Catholicism aren’t about to join the Protestants… so they go Pagan, Spiritual, or Atheist.

  14. ok then.. | Apr 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm |

    “Nones are much more likely to believe in human evolution (61%) than the general American public (38%). (Fig. 1.15)”

  15. ok then.. | Apr 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |

    “Nones are much more likely to believe in human evolution (61%) than the general American public (38%). (Fig. 1.15)”

  16. Anonymous | Apr 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    I’ve heard that kind of comparison before. I understand they are meant to be witty, but only if you don’t understand the distinction between the two. Religion requires you to subscribe to a specific dogma of one sort or another and abide by it’s tenets. Spirituality is a sense of connection with something you perceive as divine, which can occur either within the context of a religion, or outside of it. So “democracy but not elections” would be more analogous to belonging to a religion with out any real spiritual experience. I think. I am trying to type this with a small child wandering around and whining about a missing flip-flop, and I have auditory filtering issues, so it’s kind of messing with me.

  17. This post is not related for the human life. It a political excuses. Religious and non religious is the only matter of ones beliefs.
    http://michalstefillin.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=4627;sa=summary

  18. This post is not related for the human life. It a political excuses. Religious and non religious is the only matter of ones beliefs.
    http://michalstefillin.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=4627;sa=summary

  19. tis good to b irish i think for myself

  20. tis good to b irish i think for myself

  21. Threedinium | Apr 30, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    From a business perspective I would imagine a country of non-religious individuals would be ideal?

  22. Maybe you shouldn’t criticize, as you are barely literate.

  23. And how do you know English is Jack’s first language??

  24. Anonymous | May 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm |

    The vast majority of atheists consider atheism to be what agnosticism should me. “agnostic” literally means “one who does not know”, and, as most atheists simply like to say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Atheism makes no claims, and is therefore the null hypothesis. There is insufficient evidence, therefore most atheism IS agnosticism.

  25. Anonymous | May 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm |

    If you are “mindful of the world and your place in it without needing a god or the supernatural as cause for doing right or punishment for doing wrong”, then you are atheist. Spiritualism is different, and it is essentially a religion in all of its forms that I have observed.mindful of the world and your place in it without needing a god or the supernatural as cause for doing right or punishment for doing wrong”, then you are atheist. Spiritualism is different, and it is essentially a religion in all of its forms that I have observed.

  26. i don’t think show. It is not possible. If you have a faith on someone, if you love someone. It means you must have a religious person.
     http://millajovovich1.livejournal.com/720.html

  27. i don’t think show. It is not possible. If you have a faith on someone, if you love someone. It means you must have a religious person.
     http://millajovovich1.livejournal.com/720.html

  28. psywalker | Sep 17, 2011 at 5:29 am |

    That’s because ‘elections’ are part of an illusion.

Comments are closed.