Thursday, November 27, 2003

Evil Heathens Growing in Number


Their numbers have more than doubled in a decade, to nearly 30 million. Organized as a religious denomination, they would trail only Catholics and Baptists in members.

They are the "nones," named for their response to a question in public opinion polls: "What is your religion, if any?"

Some nones are atheists, others agnostics, still others self-styled dabblers in a variety of faiths and philosophies. Despite their discomfort with organized religion, many consider themselves quite spiritual.


Whatever the reason, nones grew from 8 percent of the U.S. population in 1990 to more than 14 percent in 2001.

That's the conclusion of religion experts who compared results of the National Survey of Religious Identification, conducted in 1990, and the American Religious Identification Survey, which in 2001 sought to update the earlier poll.

"That makes nones the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, if you think about them as a religious group," said Patricia O'Connell Killen, a professor of religious history at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. "We're just coming to grips with the reality that this group even exists."