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Studies are appearing that reveal that there are significant numbers of people who are not only unaffiliated religiously but also don’t really care. Call them the not-spiritual-not-religious.


Cathy Lynn Grossman writes this piece for the Religion News Service that appeared in the Washington Post:

When Ben Helton signed up for an online dating service, under “religion” he called himself “spiritually apathetic.”

On Sunday mornings, when Bill Dohm turns his eyes toward heaven, he’s just checking the weather so he can fly his 1946 Aeronca Champ two-seater plane.

Helton, 28, and Dohm, 54, aren’t atheists. They simply shrug off God, religion, heaven or the ever-trendy search-for-meaning and/or purpose. Their attitude could be summed up as “So what?”

“The real dirty little secret of religiosity in America is that there are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions, is minimal,” said Mark Silk, professor of religion and public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

According to Grossman, here is what researchers have turned up when they fine-tuned their studies to discover what the “So What” set, as she calls it, might look like:

— 44 percent told the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey they spend no time seeking “eternal wisdom,” and 19 percent said “it’s useless to search for meaning.”

— 46 percent told a 2011 survey by Nashville, Tenn.-based LifeWay Research that they never wonder whether they will go to heaven.

— 28 percent told LifeWay “it’s not a major priority in my life to find my deeper purpose.” And 18 percent scoffed at the idea that God has a purpose or plan for everyone.

— 6.3 percent of Americans turned up on Pew Forum’s 2007 Religious Landscape Survey as totally secular — unconnected to God or a higher power or any religious identity and willing to say religion is not important in their lives.

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IT

JCF writes: OCICBW, but I can't help but feel this isn't just simple apathy, but active REJECTION

Sure, some if it is. I'm sure some people of faith have felt driven OUT of their faith groups. But I'd be surprised if they registered "apathy" as in having no interest in deeper meaning, as indicated in this study.

So I wager that most of it really isn't rejection. In fact, it's rather arrogant to assume that religion MUST be so important that people must be actively rejecting it.

But the majority of people I know IRL have no interest in religion at all. Maybe they weren't exposed to it growing up, or it makes no sense to them; regardless, it isn't relevant to their lives and frankly, they just don't care.

Insofar as they are tired of conservative CHristians attempting to force their views on everyone, yeah, there's a rejection, but its an intellectual one, not a "being driven out from my faith" one.

what many believers don't get is that most non-believers really don't care what you believe, as long as you don't try to make them believe it too. They are not anti-religion crusaders. IF it works for you, great. Just dont push it on them.

Now, whether this a-religiosity (as opposed to anti-) represents a lack of interest in existential questions, and that is a result of our greedy and materialistic capitalist society.... that's something else to discuss.

Susan Forsburg

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Gary Gilbert

I see no problem if people find they don't need religion/spirituality. Those who get something out of religion, like any hobby, needn't assume everyone else enjoys it, however much one enjoys that hobby. Forcing religion on someone would be like forcing someone into a loveless marriage.

Some people can be more ethical by not appealing to a grand narrative, while others find the story makes it easier for them to stay ethical. The point is to be ethical and make decisions carefully. How one arrives at goodness may not matter.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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BillCommMin

Yes, Jeff, perhaps even more. I've heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Simple apathy may suggest that, for the apathetic, religion is not worthy of one's effort to reject it. Simply ignore it. Thanks. Bill Lewellis

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BillCommMin

Yes, Jeff, perhaps even more. I've heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Simple apathy may suggest that, for the apathetic, religion is not worthy of one's effort to reject it. Simply ignore it.

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tgflux

OCICBW, but I can't help but feel this isn't just simple apathy, but active REJECTION. Probably based upon the Usual Reasons (Religion = sexist, homophobic, fundamentalist, anti-science, narrow-minded etc etc)

JC Fisher

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