The Pew Research Centre conducted an interesting survey on representative sample of more than 1,300 American “nones” asking them why they choose not to identify with a religion. The reason for such research lies in the fact that religiously unaffiliated people have been growing as a share of all Americans for some time.
The majority of religiously unaffiliated Americans (six-of-ten) say the questioning of religious teachings is a very important reason for their lack of affiliation. The second-most common reason is opposition to the positions taken by churches on social and political issues, cited by 49% of respondents. When we look at the atheists as a special group within the unaffiliated we can see that the most important reason for their lack of affiliation is that they don’t believe in God (89%).
Other important reasons are – ‘I don’t like religious organizations,’ ‘Religion is irrelevant to me’ and the last but not the least is ‘I don’t like religious leaders.’ Atheists also are more likely than other “nones” to say religion is simply “irrelevant” to them (63% of atheists vs. 40% of agnostics and 26% of adults with no particular religion.)
On the other side, people who are religiously unaffiliated (without calling themselves atheists or agnostics) make the largest subgroup among the “nones.” They “question a lot of religious teachings” (51%), “don’t like the positions churches take on social/political issues” (47%), and don’t like religious organizations (34%).
We can see that most people who don’t belong to any particular religion are more influenced by the failures of the religious than atheists’ arguments against God’s existence. Obviously, church leaders, their failure to live the way they preach and their mistakes, discourage people from religion. Also, the views of the church that are often anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-science, make people question religious teachings they previously believed in.
Pew Research Center also asked religiously unaffiliated which of the six potential statements is the single most important reason they are unaffiliated. There are major differences among the three unaffiliated subgroups on this question as well. Three-quarters of atheists say the most important reason they are atheist is that they don’t believe in God. Far fewer agnostics (17%) and people in the “nothing in particular” group (8%) say this.
Among people who identify as “nothing in particular”, a quarter say the most important reason is that they question a lot of religious teachings, 21% say they dislike the positions churches take on social and political issues, and 28% say none of the reasons offered are very important.
Photo Credits: Free Will