February 22, 2013

A Place for the "Nones"


The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace.  One-fifth of the U.S.—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated.  This is the highest percentage ever according to the Pew Research Center polling.  In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from 15% to 20% of all Americans. 

This large and growing group of Americans—popularly referred to as the “nones”— is less religious on many conventional measures, like frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives.  However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated are spiritual in some way.  Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%).  More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day.  They are seeking, according to the polling, a connection and experience of God. 

St. Mary’s Sewanee is holy ground where the religiously unaffiliated have a place.  Many of the participants in our programs, retreats and workshops consider St. Mary’s Sewanee their primary source of spiritual growth and development in their lives.  Because religion can divide, our programs emphasizes spiritual tools that encourage personal transformation which leads to positive change in the communities which our retreat participants live.  It is also true that St. Mary’ Sewanee often serves as a bridge for “nones” to a healthy and vibrant religious community.  Folks who have been hurt by the Church or are dissatisfied or uninterested in religious institutions find St. Mary’s Sewanee an integral part of their journey back to an organized faith community. 

Perhaps you know someone who is among the growing number of “nones.”  Maybe you are one of the 21% of Gen Xers, 15% of Baby Boomers or 33% under 30 who are unaffiliated when it comes to organized religion.  Share with another the news of St. Mary’s Sewanee and the spiritual hospitality we offer to all.  Experience for yourself a place that emphasizes conversations that draw people together and nurtures the innate human capacity for relationship with God.