Hartford, Conn., Sep 22, 2009 / 00:57 am America/Denver (CNA).
A new study of the 34 million American adults who do not identify with any particular religious group finds that they now largely mirror the wider population in other aspects. However, the group tends to be young, male, politically independent and of Irish ancestry.
The number of “Nones” grew greatly in the 1990s. In 1990 they made up 8.2 percent of the population and grew to 14.2 percent by 2001. In 2008 they made up 15 percent.
The Nones were the only group to have increased in every state and region of the country during the past 18 years, according to a study released by Trinity College Hartford today.
The researchers’ category of Nones include those who are irreligious, unreligious, the anti-religious, and anti-clerical. About 59 percent is agnostic or deist, while a small minority is atheist. About 27 percent profess belief in a personal God. Some participate occasionally in religious rituals, while others say they never would.
Nones increasingly mirror the wider population’s divisions of ethnicity, income, and education levels. About 19 percent of American men are Nones, though only 12 percent of women are. Women are less likely to be atheists and to take hard skeptical positions. About 33 percent claim Irish ancestry, while 28 percent now live in southern states.