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‘None’ Becomes Largest Single Religious Group in the U.S.

Religiously unaffiliated individuals, also referred to as “nones,” now account for 28 percent of U.S. adults — making up the largest single ‘religious’ group according to a new study by Pew Research. “Nones” include atheists, agnostics, and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Comparatively, 23 percent of U.S. adults identify as Catholics and 24 percent as evangelical Protestants. In 2007, only 16 percent of Americans identified as “nones.”

The study, titled “Religious ‘Nones’ in America: Who They Are and What They Believe,” revealed that “nones” do not represent a homogeneous group, with several claiming belief in God or a higher power without regular attendance at religious services. Lead Researcher at Pew, Gregory Smith, points out that while many “nones” believe religion has some merit, they also contend it can be harmful. Interestingly, they tend to view science with higher favor but deny its ability to explain everything.

A majority of “nones” do not view religion positively. Overall, 43 percent say religion does more harm than good in society and 41 percent say religion does equal amounts of good and harm. Only 14 percent of “nones” view religion as a positive social force.

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