The Best Charts About the ‘Rise of the Nones’ You’ll See All Year

Morning Edition on NPR is running a weeklong series on “Losing Our Religion” and they ran a nice story today about the “Nones” (atheists, agnostics, people who believe in “something” but don’t belong to an organized religion, etc) and it’s worth a listen. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but yay for more press about the topic!

Better than the piece, though, are the graphics by Matt Stiles appearing alongside the piece on the NPR website. They showcase the growth of the Nones (in general), the growth of young Nones, and the growth of both male and female Nones.

Somewhere, a Wall Street banker is salivating over those lines.

The trend, [Harvard professor Robert] Putnam says, is borne out of rebellion of sorts.

“It begins to jump at around 1990,” he says. “These were the kids who were coming of age in the America of the culture wars, in the America in which religion publicly became associated with a particular brand of politics, and so I think the single most important reason for the rise of the unknowns is that combination of the younger people moving to the left on social issues and the most visible religious leaders moving to the right on that same issue.”

And the Internet. Don’t forget the Internet.

Keep in mind a recent Gallup poll showed slower growth in our numbers than we’ve seen in recent memory, but one data point is hardly enough to suggest a trend.

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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