The ‘Nones’ keep growing

According to the results of the most recent General Social Survey data, the number of people who described themselves as not affiliated with any religion keeps rising steadily.

According to newly released General Social Survey data analyzed by Ryan P. Burge of Eastern Illinois University, Americans claiming “no religion” — sometimes referred to as “nones” because of how they answer the question “what is your religious tradition?” — now represent about 23.1 percent of the population, up from 21.6 percent in 2016. People claiming evangelicalism, by contrast, now represent 22.5 percent of Americans, a slight dip from 23.9 percent in 2016.

That makes the two groups statistically tied with Catholics (23 percent) as the largest religious — or nonreligious — groupings in the country.

Evangelicals have declined from a peak of around 30% in the early 1990s while Catholics have declined from a high of about 28% in the mid-1980s.

One can expect hat the tight embrace of evangelicals and Donald Trump and the ever-escalating scandals involving sexual abuse in the Catholic church will discredit them further and drive their numbers down even more.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    So now the US has three approximately equal religious factions & ~ 1/4 “other”.

    The political panderers face some tough decisions (at least in statistically average areas).

  2. John Morales says

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rate of increase shot up around the time mass access internet became available, in particular the Web.

  3. says

    The Jewish line is interesting and, I think, misleading because of the way the question is framed.

    Asking What is your religious tradition? is fine as long as the participants don’t conflate religious affiliation with ancestry as Jews tend to do.

    The association of Irish-is-to-Catholicism is different from that of Jew-is-to-Judaism.

    If I’m an atheist but my parents are Christians, what is my religious tradition?

    How far back does (cue Tevye) tradition extend: parents, grandparent, great grandparents?

  4. johnson catman says

    hyphenman @3: I thought that wording was odd as well. I think something like “affiliation” would be a better term and a little more straightforward.

  5. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    I had to follow links to get to the source article in Christianity Today which is worth a skim.

    The base data is from the General Social Survey, a long-term study series. One of the Twitter links points to the raw data, a 435MB file, if you want to do your own analysis.

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