Another view of the “nones”

Recently, those who study the contemporary U.S. religious landscape have been focusing on the rise of the “nones,” those who check off “none” when asked their religious affiliation on surveys. Many commentators are predicting a gradual decline in religious affiliation in the U.S. In a recent article on the Alban Institute Web site, Canadian sociologist Reginald Bibby points out that the rise of the “nones” in Canada began long before it did in the United States, and has not resulted in secularization:

“In Canada, the reality of religious polarization is a far cry from what was anticipated by theories of linear secularization. It is literally A New Day for religion, where market demand remains high, precisely at a time when growing numbers are rejecting religion. Changing demographics and varied market performances are contributing to a restructuring of players. But the inclinations to embrace religion and reject religion co-exist, with the balance always in dynamic flux. Such religious polarization, as I’ve been emphasizing, is found everywhere — even now, as the Pew Forum data remind us, in the United States.”

The Alban Institute article, “Welcome to Religio8us Polarization,” is available here. This article is adapted from Bibby’s book-length study, A New Day: The Resilience and Restructuring of Religion in Canada, available as a free download from Project Canada.

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