Most Nones—those who answer “none” when asked about their religious affiliation—are not atheists.
A commenter here on Monday spoke for many when she wrote: “I’m one of the ‘Nones’ and I consider myself a very spiritual person. I believe in a Higher Power.”
That commenter used to be a member of a church, Catholic in her case, but no longer believes much of what that church teaches, “so I can’t call myself a Catholic, or even a Christian at this point.”
Many other spiritual seekers have wrestled with this same issue: Why leave the church of your upbringing?
Psychology professor and author John Kotre explored this question in The View from the Border: Why Catholics Leave the Church and Why They Stay, first published in 1971 and reissued in 2009.
The book is a study of 100 young adults who had intensive Catholic education, 50 who were still in the church and 50 who had left.
“One finding: the church that the ‘Ins’ were in was not the church that the ‘Outs’ were out of,” Kotre wrote in a new introduction to the 2009 edition. “When I asked, ‘Who is the Catholic church?’ 60 percent of the Outs said it was the hierarchy or clergy; only 8 percent of the Ins did. To them the church was simply ‘the people.’ No matter how I asked the question, and I did many times in many ways, the contrast was immediate. One church here, another just across the line.”
So which side of the line are you on?
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(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering spirituality, religion, interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)