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The Rise of the Nones: Why More Americans are Becoming Secular, and What that Means for America

Chapter
Part of the Studies in Humanist and Atheism book series (HRC)

Abstract

There is no question that in Europe—as well as in other selected industrialized nations around the world such as Canada, Australia, and Japan—religion has been on the decline for the past century. The data concerning the observable secularization of these societies are virtually irrefutable.1 Whether we are measuring belief, faith, church attendance, frequency of prayer, baptisms, self-identification—or any other indicator—the lessening of religiosity and the increase of secularity in these societies are both readily apparent. For example, in Canada one hundred years ago, only 2% of the population claimed to have no religion. But today, nearly 30% of Canadians claim as much,2 and approximately one in five Canadians today does not believe in God.3 In Australia one hundred years ago, less than 1% of the population claimed no religious identity, but today, approximately 20% of Australians claim as much—and the current Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, is an open atheist.4 A century ago in Holland, around 10% of the population claimed to be religiously unaffiliated; today it is over 40%.5 In contemporary Great Britain, nearly half of the people now claim no religious identity at all.6 The same is currently the case in Sweden, where approximately half the population self-identifies as secular.7 Furthermore, 61% of Czechs, 49% of Estonians, 45% of Slovenians, 34% of Bulgarians, and 31% of Norwegians do not believe in God,8 and 33% of the French, 27% of Belgians, and 25% of Germans, do not believe in God or any sort of universal spiritual life force. These are the highest rates of nonbelief ever recorded for these various nations.9

Keywords

Church Attendance Religious Identity Republican Party Social Psychology Review Canadian Today 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Anthony B. Pinn 2014

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