As Ryan notes , the Catholic Church, according the Pew report , has lost the greatest number of believers in recent years. But the “unaffiliated” . . . faith? denomination? ecclesial community? . . . has burgeoned to 16 percent of the U.S. population, making it “the country’s fourth-largest ‘religious group.’” As the ever-estimable New York Times hastens to assure us, “The rise of the unaffiliated does not, however, mean that Americans are becoming less religious.” It just means that more people are getting up (or not) on Sunday mornings and professing faith in “nothing in particular.”
Here is the breakdown: About 39 percent of “unaffliliated” consider themselves secular unaffliliated, 36 percent are religious unaffiliated, 15 percent are agnostic, and 10 percent are atheist. Encouraging to note is that, looking at the population as a whole, this means just 1.6 percent, or one in sixty Americans, are professed atheists. Moreover, as Pew observes, the “unaffiliated population has . . . one of the lowest retention rates of all ‘religious’ groups” and is primarily comprised of adults between eighteen and fifty. Only time will tell whether this now-young, growing sector will change their tune . . .
“Credo in nihil particularum . . . ”