From CBS News.
One-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation, and this number is increasing rapidly.
The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a fast pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent).
This large and growing group of Americans is less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.
The article notes that “unaffiliated” doesn’t necessarily mean atheist or even agnostic:
Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68 percent). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58 percent), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37 percent), and one-in-five (21 percent) say they pray every day.
With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
The lower the age group, the less likely people are to be affiliated.
The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans – sometimes called the rise of the “nones” – is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones.
My personal theory about this is that young people are being neglected by their parents and to a lesser degree by their church leaders. Parents are just too busy with their careers and other diversions, and churches are not presenting Christianity seriously using arguments and evidence. Neither parents nor churches are taking opposition to Christianity seriously from an intellectual point of view. When parents and church leaders step aside, the influence gap is filled by know-nothing peers and by the culture. Peers and the culture are pushing for hedonism, not for a serious search for the truth about religion. And that’s why young people are rejecting the church. If religion is anything to them, it’s about self-fulfillment. It certainly is not about truth. No one has ever presented it to them as true, only as useful for their own happiness and well-being.