The Nones

The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going
by Ryan P. Burge 2021

About the Author
Ryan P. Burge is an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University. Author of numerous journal articles, he is the cofounder of and a frequent contributor to Religion in Public, a forum for scholars of religion and politics to make their work accessible to a general audience. Burge is a pastor in the American Baptist Church.

About the Book
In The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, and Where They Are Going, Ryan P. Burge details a comprehensive picture of an increasingly significant group–Americans who say they have no religious affiliation.

The growth of the nones in American society has been dramatic. In 1972, just 5 percent of Americans claimed “no religion” on the General Social Survey. In 2018, that number rose to 23.7 percent, making the nones as numerous as both evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics. Every indication is that the nones will be the largest religious group in the United States in the next decade.

Burge illustrates his precise but accessible descriptions with charts and graphs drawn from over a dozen carefully curated datasets, some tracking changes in American religion over a long period of time, others large enough to allow a statistical deep dive on subgroups such as atheists and agnostics. Burge also draws on data that tracks how individuals move in and out of religion over time, helping readers understand what type of people become nones and what factors lead an individual to return to religion.

The Nones gives readers a nuanced, accurate, and meaningful picture of the growing number of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. Burge explains how this rise happened, who the nones are, and what they mean for the future of American religion.

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“Every section in this book brings me pain as a confessing Christian, but I want to know what is being experienced among those who find my faith inadequate or unhelpful. Be prepared to be distressed and disturbed, but take heart: the pain will lead you to what the gospel has the power to create anew.” –Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary

“The Nones by Ryan P. Burge will be a recommended resource of the Send Institute as we help denominations and networks strategize starting new churches for the future.” –Daniel Yang, Director of the Send Institute, Wheaton College Billy Graham Center

“Ryan P. Burge deploys his expertise as a sociologist and his experience as a pastor to provide an invaluable, insightful, and detailed portrait of the Nones, . . . a reality that anyone involved in ministry or interested in society ought to understand. The Nones is an excellent guide.” –David Gibson, Director, Center on Religion and Culture, Fordham University