First, which number are we using now? The new number that proves "Nones" are on the rise is: 23.1%! That is, according to Pew in the year of our Lord 2019, 23.1% of Americans claim "no religion." Why is this news?
Evangelicals are 22.8 percent of the population, while Catholics are at 23 percent. For statistical purposes, all of these numbers can be treated as essentially equal.
No, no, no, why is this news now?*
Well, let's look back in time to 2015. I'm old enough to remember 2015. In 2015 Religion Dispatches was reporting numbers out of Pew that showed a new trend: 23% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation.
Now, follow the bouncing ball to 2017. That year Pew told us that:
Fifty-six percent of Americans now say that belief in God isn’t a necessary component of morality, up from 49 percent in 2011.
And why was that important to the question of "nones"?
The uptick reflects the wider prevalence of the spiritually unaffiliated, or “nones,” as nearly a quarter of Americans identified as atheist or agnostic in 2011.An uptick! An uptick, I tells ya! Sharp eyes will note that 23.1% is "nearly a quarter of Americans." So the number has actually declined since 2011, or simply stayed statistically the same; for 8 years. But there was an uptick! What happened to the uptick? Maybe it came in 2019?
Some "trend," huh?
What we have in the latest article is some new framing because some sharp-eyed writer noticed very similar numbers and a light bulb went off above their head ("I can see! I can see!!"). But absolutely nothing has changed.
Nothin' to see here; literally.
As for numbers and figures, when that "nones" figure hits 59% of the U.S. population, wake me; we'll have caught up with 1906, about the time Eliot started publishing poetry (and all "serious" writers were convinced the Church was over). That, if you're counting, is 113 years gone, now. But I'm not holding my breath anymore; that percentage hasn't moved since at least 2011.
Until then, the prayer:
Grant that thy Church may be delivered from traditions which have lost their life, from usage which has lost its spirit, from institutions which no longer give life and power to their generation; that the Church may ever shine as a light in the world and be as a city set on a hill.
HEAR OUR PRAYER, O LORD.
*Of course, if you combine the numbers for believers (evangelicals and Catholics, leaving out other mainline Protestants and Mormons) in that set, you still get twice as many as the "nones." But that would spoil their thesis, so let them have their fun.