Unbelief is on the uptick. People who check "none" for their religious affiliation are now nearly 1 in 5 Americans (19 percent), the highest ever documented, according to the Pew Center for the People and the Press.
The rapid rise of the Nones — including atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe "nothing in particular" — defies the usually glacial rate of change in spiritual identity.
Barry Kosmin, co-author of three American Religious Identification Surveys, theorizes why None has become the default category: "Young people are resistant to the authority of institutional religion, older people are turned off by the politicization of religion, and people are simply less into theology than ever before."
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