The Nones The religiously unaffiliated

Definition: The Nones
People who do not identify with any religion or call themselves atheist, agnostic, or secular.

The "nones" are people who don’t claim a particular religious affiliation. The name comes from choosing “none” when asked for their religious affiliation. The nones are increasing in number, according to recent surveys.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religious and Public Life, approximately 20% of Americans, or roughly 60 million people in the United States, now claim no particular religious affiliation.

What do the “Nones” Have in Common?

The “nones” vary just like any group; nevertheless, there are some detectable trends.

While “nones” comprise 9% of the 65-and-over population, they make up 32% of the 30-and-under population.

The “nones” also tend to be political progressives. 72% of “nones” are pro-choice and 73% support same-sex marriage.

However, the biggest observable commonality among the “nones” is age. According to Pew:

One important factor behind the growth of the religiously unaffiliated is generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. Among the youngest Millennials (those ages 18-22, who were minors in 2007 and thus not eligible to be interviewed in Pew Research Center surveys conducted that year), fully one-third (34%) are religiously unaffiliated, compared with about one-in-ten members of the Silent Generation (9%) and one-in-twenty members of the World War II-era Greatest Generation (5%). Older Millennials (ages 23-30) also are substantially less likely than prior generations to be religiously affiliated.

But generational replacement is not the only factor at play. Generation Xers and Baby Boomers also have become more religiously unaffiliated in recent years. In 2012, 21% of Gen Xers and 15% of Baby Boomers describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, up slightly (but by statistically significant margins) from 18% and 12%, respectively, since 2007. The trend lines for earlier generations are essentially flat. Not only are young adults less likely to be affiliated than their elders, but the GSS shows that the percentage of Americans who were raised without an affiliation has been rising gradually, from about 3% in the early 1970s to about 8% in the past decade. However, the overwhelming majority of the “nones” were brought up in a religious tradition. The new Pew Research Center/Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly survey finds that about three-quarters of unaffiliated adults were raised with some affiliation (74%).


See Also


  1. “Nones” on the Rise.” 9 October 2012. "The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling."

Further Reading

  • Religiously unaffiliated people face harassment in a growing number of countries.” Pew Research Center. 12 August 2019. "Restrictions on religion don’t just affect those who are religious; people who are religiously unaffiliated also are harassed because of what they believe. And the number of countries where religiously unaffiliated people experienced harassment rose sharply in 2017, according to a recent Pew Research Center report."
  • Caumont, Andrea. “68% – Most of the Religiously Unaffiliated Still Keep Belief in God.” Pew Research Center. 26 November 2012. "...many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). Of that group, 30% say their belief in God is absolutely certain and 38% say they believe in God, but with less certainty. More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day."

Article Info

Title The Nones
Last UpdatedJanuary 28, 2021
MLA Citation “The Nones.” 28 Jan. 2021. Web. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022. <>