The Rise of the Nones in the US, A Perspective from Canada

Unknown to many, Canada has “been there” and “done that” when it comes to Religious Nones. In this country, the no religion patterns have pretty much paralleled those of the United Statesalong with the high casualties among Mainline Protestants. Today, the “no religion” figure here may even be about five percentage points higher than it is there. Canadian weekly attendance has plummeted much more dramatically, from a higher-than-American level of some 60 percent in 1945 to a current, much lower-than-American level of under 20 percent. Welcome to Religious Polarization.

But, as with elsewhere, the story is hardly final and we need to keep the camera running. The religion market is always “up for grabs.” Following Stark, the increase in the percentage of Nones means the opportunity exists for religious groups to increase their market shares. Apart from outcomes, there is little doubt we will see accelerated activity in the American religious marketplace.   

An important word of caution: my research in Canada has been showing, that, at least to date, residence in the no religion category often tends to be short-lived. Many teenage Nones are looking to religious groups for rites of passage that may result in reaffiliation. Nones who marry “Somethings” frequently raise their children as “Somethings” and not uncommonly follow suit. Further, large numbers of adult and teenage Nones indicate they have not slammed the door on involvement that they deem to be worthwhile.  

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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