The developing data on the religiously unaffiliated and their political leanings is certainly important, and Katherine Stewart is right to raise questions about why this has been ignored by the mainstream media and political organizations (though not here on RD).
However, her push to characterize the unaffiliated as “unbelievers” and “atheists” is refuted by the data to which she refers. By far, as the recent Pew report and other studies have shown, so-called “Nones” are believers in God or a higher power (68%), see themselves as religious or spiritual (65%), see religion as having important social value (69%) despite what they see as an excessive focus on power, rules, and politics (68%). Nearly half (41%) pray at least weekly.
So, as it turns out, unbelievers are not, in fact “a large portion of the unaffiliated,” suffering anti-anti-religious persecution. They are largely theistic in belief, and relatively traditional, if eclectic and inconsistent, in religious or spiritual practice. To paint Nones as a growing European-style secular/atheist population is to misread the available data.
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