A closer look at the trends driving the growth of the unaffiliated may suggest that the trend is in part a result of those with a low religious commitment being more comfortable stating they are not religious, as those with that commitment level shifted by 9% toward unaffiliated. In addition, the overall growth of the nonreligious, including atheists and agnostics has grown from 10% of Americans to 23% of Americans.
Why this story matters for church leaders:
While any drops in church attendance are a concern, the numbers tell an important narrative about how people report their beliefs and affiliations.
- The Good News:It’s likely that the cultural “advantage” of religious affiliation has prompted many marginal believers to report being atheists.
- What Is Unaffiliated? Even the 9% who report being unaffiliated may still value spirituality even if they do not identify with a particular tradition.
- Freedom of Religion:In the past, atheists and agnostics had been marginalized or slandered.
How does this story impact your church?
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