Has the ‘Rise of the Nones’ Finally Started to Plateau?

A new Gallup poll out today shows that the growth of the “Nones” — atheists, agnostics, and a whole lot of people who believe in God but don’t use a religious label — only increased slightly between 2011 and 2012:

Across the past five years, the biggest jumps in “nones” occurred between 2009 and 2010 and between 2010 and 2011 — an increase of 1.1 percentage points each between the two years. In absolute terms, 15.3% of the population had no explicit religious identity in 2009, compared with 17.5% in 2011.

The rate of change between 2011 and 2012, however, slowed to a 0.3-point increase — from 17.5% to 17.8%. These estimates are based on 353,492 interviews in 2011 and 353,571 interviews in 2012.

It’s a sexy headline — suggesting that religion has finally blunted our growth — but it’s only one data point and it’s far too early to tell if the “Nones” are finally leveling off.

Also interesting in the Gallup results is a breakdown of which demographics were most likely to fall under the category of “no religion”:

At the top of the list? Asians and 18-29-year-olds.

(You’re welcome, America.)

At the bottom of the list? The elderly and the GOP.

If the youngest generation surveyed is most likely to be non-religious while the oldest generation is at the other end of the spectrum, it seems like common sense to say we’ll be in pretty good shape for a while.

We’re still growing. We’re still growing among younger people, especially.

Don’t bet against the Nones just yet.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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