Losing My Religion: What exactly are the Nones leaving?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Losing My Religin
Click the cover to visit the book's Amazon page.

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

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.)

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  1. tom stella says

    I’ve appreciated the writings on this page over the past four days, and am pleased that my book has generated some interest in this topic. I find that many of the people I deal with fit the “I’m not religious but I’m spiritual” tag. I have struggled with the traditional teachings of the institutional church and have found a way to reinterpret them that taps into their spiritual meaning. I believe this is what many “seekers” long for; not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but to find a way to understand and embrace religion’s ageless truths.
    It’s not easy to find the place/people who share our hunger for spiritual meaning and depth, but there is value in searching for this within faith communities.