Friday, December 14, 2012

The Nones

“Nones” is researcher slang for adults who have no religious affiliation.  They currently represent 20 percent of the adult population, up five percent from 2007.  Thirty percent are atheists or agnostics, but 68 percent consider themselves religious or spiritual in some way.  Most are young.  A third of adults under 30 do not have a religious affiliation.  They are socially liberal.  Seventy-two percent support legal abortion and 73%, same-sex marriage (The PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, “Nones on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation”).

In “American Grace,” Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell note that religious freedom in the United States has made it possible for those unhappy with one religion to find one that suits not only their religious beliefs, but their social and political beliefs as well.

A fluid religious environment enables people seeking something different to leave one religion for another, to find religion for the first time, or to leave religion altogether.  This churn means that people gradually, but continually, sort themselves into like-minded clusters—their commonality defined not only by religion, but also by the social and political beliefs that go along with their religion. 

As a Latter-day Saint, this worries me.  I want to see the Church grow.  Missionaries teach only the gospel, and the Spirit beareth witness but will that witness be heard with political noise in the background?  The Church’s position of political neutrality is more than legal expediency, it is an inspired doctrine to keep our focus on what is truly important. 

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