March of the Nones: What does this label mean in our communities?

Communities in motion What does none really mean?
   

We’ve heard from many readers this week during our discussion of the March of the Nones—the rising numbers of Americans who say “none” when polled about their religious affiliation.
   

The richness of your responses reminds me that a survey is just a snapshot. It freezes time, when reality is moving, flowing, and ever-changing. Nones are diverse, as we’ve seen this week, and being a none is a fluid status. We’ve heard from …
   

Long-time nones who joined an organized religion yet are considering becoming nones again …
   

Nones who are thoughtful spiritual seekers, mixing a personal blend of spirituality and religion without an official affiliation …
   

Former nones whose faith came with marriage and children …
   

Nones who move in and out of organized religions during the course of their lives …
   

Being a none doesn’t mean a lack of faith. Prettymonarch, a professional funeral celebrant, often serves those who have no religious affiliation. “Not once,” she says, “have I had a family that didn’t want some religion, some prayer and/or religious hymn as part of the service. So, even though they claim to have no religious affiliation, they still have faith.”
   

Benjamin Pratt, a retired United Methodist clergyman, still conducts funerals and weddings. Knowing that many attendees are nones, he crafts his language and style. “Many come hungry,” he says, “and we have opportunities to touch souls if we break creatively from the impersonal liturgies and dare to speak to folks where they are.”
   

In some ways, being a none seems uniquely American—it combines a quest for meaning and the transcendent with a pragmatic and individualized approach to it all.
   

Next week, we’ll continue looking at issues of religion and spirituality—in this case, the meaning of a cross in the desert.
   

Stay tuned and—as always—let us know what you think!

CARE TO READ MORE? Scholars and religious leaders everywhere are fascinated by this week’s topic. ReadTheSpirit.com has just published an interview with Harvard’s Dr. Harvey Cox, who shares some of his conclusions about these trends.

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