NPR is doing an interesting series on Morning Edition this week on the Rise of the Nones, with the nones being those who answer ‘None of the Above’ when asked what religion they follow. The trends clear that this segment is growing.
The first two episodes are interesting and informative. Pollsters Robert Putnam states it very succinctly
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.
That is my experience as well. In the sixties the churches were at the forefront of many of the social changes, including civil rights and, to a lesser extent, the war in Vietnam. The rise of mega-churches over the past two decades, with an increase in fundamentalism, has driven many away and created a huge rift between the religious and non-religious. The graph of the nones by age confirms that there are large generational differences in the US that are increasing. Given trends in Europe during the last 40 years, I don’t see the tide the changing in the United States.
Be sure to give the series a listen. You can start at http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/01/14/169164840/losing-our-religion-the-growth-of-the-nones