You're More than Just a None
Updated: Jan 8
You may have read the research that says the number of religious Nones—those who claim they are unaffiliated—is on the rise. Can you really be a none, a nothing?
It really all depends on how you define religion, which is where things get tricky. Having grown up a pastor’s kid, I’ve always been amazed at how those who are seemingly self-assured, perhaps even the most institutionally authorized, range widely on the nature of God, the Bible, doctrine and liturgy. Maybe that's ok, some say, as long as there's agreement on core aspects. Even still, when everyday Americans are asked about their religious affiliation, you can imagine that there’s a whole lot more going on than simply checking a box from a few options.
What’s intriguing is that more and more people are preferring to put their marks next to the label None. They look at all the other labels and say to themselves, I am not that; therefore, I’m a None. I have no religion. While some have articulated their stance as “none and done”, post-Christian, Exvangelical—three designations that already say a lot—most others simply say they don’t want to have anything to do with organized religion as they know it.
Now we’re back to definitions.
And yet I don’t want to make an attempt at definitions here. Instead, I simply want to put it out there that I understand the freedom people are finding in saying they are not boxed in by some of the organized forms of faith they grew up with or find in their neighborhoods, read about in books, or see in the news. That’s a very important freedom for many, and it’s something to encourage and understand.
I don’t think anyone believes that when it comes to sacred symbols, and the language and community we build around them, that they would say they have nothing, zip, zero, nada. Goodness, just look at what happens every December in the US. Some people lament the commercialism, others that there's no more Christ in Christmas anymore. That's just bad faith, and naysaying, as the symbols of hope are really, truly there.
Many say that they are spiritual and not religious, but having one without the other is like saying you can have cake and not calories. Spirituality and religion go together, or in other words, they need each other.
So if you’re reading this, today I wish you something, not nothing, in your pursuit of the sacred. I hope you can find it, that it takes you somewhere you’ve never been, or maybe better, back to who you really are. And perhaps, just maybe, it will take you to a place where you can share it with others, and even give it a name.