Rags of Light

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Rise of the "Nones" as part of a wider trend toward social isolation.

Thanks to @ayjay’s Pinboard feed for this article. Excerpt:

Before the 1960s, say, it was easy and natural to join a church or synagogue, just as you signed up for any other kind of social organization. It was what “we” in this community did, part of what makes us a collective us. We were clubbable, and churchable (a word I have just invented). More recently, that is simply not the case. When churches decline, it’s not so much a matter of theology, or morality debates, or anger at the behavior or attitudes of particular churches or their hierarchies. Rather, we have become non-joiners, non-participators. Successful institutions adapt to that as best they can. Megachurches offer a great example in the very varying degree of commitment they offer and demand, for different kinds of people. Also, note how the most successful such churches offer so many services and community functions that people can no longer find anywhere else.

Highly relevant to this story is the growth of the much-publicized Nones, which is mainly a phenomenon of the present century. Let me say again that, despite much media incomprehension, Nones are not necessarily people who reject belief, and they might actually be quite religious in their attitudes. What marks them off is that they refuse any kind of affiliation with a religion or religious denomination. Presently, America’s Nones constitute a population roughly akin to evangelical Protestants in number, and they now outnumber Catholics. We can tell this story as one of secularization, but it is rather one of isolation, of non-joining, of a rejection of us-ness. Large sections of the population have given up being churchable.

(Emphasis added by me.)