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Half of Adults Say Religious Nones Are Bad for America

Even the unaffiliated don't see declining religiosity as a good thing.

As more Americans identify as religiously unaffiliated, almost half of all adults say the so-called rise of the nones is a bad thing for society.

That's according to new data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which indicates that 48 percent of adults consider the decline in religious committment to be bad for America. Though another 39 percent said it "doesn't make much difference," only 11 percent of people said the decline is good.

Among white evangelical Protestants, more than 3 in 4 (78 percent) say the trend is harmful. Only 4 percent see it as a good thing.

The data do not specify what "bad" entails, but Pew highlights a surprising finding in its analysis:

Even among adults who do not identify with any religion, only about a quarter (24 percent) say the trend is good, while nearly as many say it is bad (19 percent); a majority (55 percent) of the unaffiliated say it does not make much difference for society.

Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta says that means "even some Nones think it's a bad thing that more people are Nones."

"I don't know what's weirder," Mehta writes, "that there are evangelical Christians out there who are happy that more people are becoming non-religious … or that there are a lot of unaffiliated people who are upset by it."

CT previously covered the dramatic increase in the religiously unaffiliated (as reported by Pew last fall), as well as examined "the end of nominal Protestantism."

Recently, CT also discussed whether or not the concern over the rise of the nones is overblown, and noted that data from Gallup suggests that the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated aren't growing as quickly as we thought.

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Posted:July 3, 2013 at 2:47PM
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Half of Adults Say Religious Nones Are Bad for America