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This blog has frequently looked at the phenomenon of the accelerating increase in those with no religious affiliation, also known as “nones” (as in “none of the above”). The Pew Research Center indicates that in the 1950s, these "none" represented about 2 percent of the population. By the 1970s, their numbers had increased to about 7 percent. Today, "nones" represent close to 20 percent of the population. The causation for this phenomenon is under debate. In a column, Michael Gerson, hardly a liberal, notes this:
One theory: The accelerated growth of the nones coincided with the rise of the religious right in the 1990s, leading some scholars to assert a connection. Though causality is hard to establish, many nones hold a very dim view of religious conservatives — asserting that churches are too focused on rules and money and too involved with politics. It is easy to imagine some of the unaffiliated looking at the movement led by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and concluding: “If this is religion, I want no part in it.”
I would add the Catholic Church hierarchy and supposed "family values" organizations like the American Family Association, Family Research Council and Rick Santorum style GOP politicians to the list of those giving religion a truly foul name and image. Gerson then tries to down play the role of conservatives in religion's decline, but I believe that the Christofascists are a prime cause. Among my own children and their friends, when they think of Christianity, the images they see are of those preaching hate, fear and bigotry. They, like other nones, want no part of it. Over all, I see the rapid increase in the nones to be a positive development.