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NPR’s Morning Edition explores the “nones”

NPR’s Morning Edition explores the “nones”

This week, NPR’s Morning Edition has been explores the “nones” — Americans who say they don’t identify with any religion.

This echoes the Episcopal Cafe post “None” but not “atheist” from this past weekend.

Three of the episodes are now available on the NPR website.

Monday’s show explored the rise in numbers of the group:

Perhaps most striking is that one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. When comparing this with previous generations under 30, there’s a new wrinkle, says Greg Smith, a senior research at Pew.

“Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell,” Smith tells NPR Morning Edition co-host David Greene. “This really is something new.”

Tuesday’s episode featured a roundtable discussion with six adults under 30 who are “all struggling with the role of faith and religion in their lives”.

Today’s offering was entitled “After Tragedy, Nonbelievers Find Other Ways to Cope”. This part jumps out:

Cacciatore says she’s seen nonbelievers embrace spirituality, and religious people wash their hands of God, in the aftermath of tragedy. But most often, she says, tragedy shakes your faith but doesn’t destroy it.

“What we find in the research — my own research and in other studies — is that their faith is generally challenged in some way,” she says. “And yet, they tend to come back full circle to a place of spiritual belief or faith.”

One theme is clear, Cacciatore says: Religious leaders are really bad at comforting people in grief. She surveyed more than 550 families, asking whom they found the most helpful during those first terrible days: first responders, doctors and nurses, social workers, psychologists, funeral directors or spiritual leaders.

“And of all of those, the spiritual leaders actually came in last,” she says.


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whom they found the most helpful during those first terrible days: first responders, doctors and nurses, social workers, psychologists, funeral directors or spiritual leaders … the spiritual leaders actually came in last

I believe it. The problem is, the “spiritual leader” usually feels compelled to Say Something (Anything) Spiritual. When that’s usually the last thing the grieving want to hear, coming at them.

JMO, but I think it better for a “spiritual leader” to just find a way to make themselves physically useful (Do the dishes, do the laundry, keep the food coming, keep the dog walked/the kids entertained, etc). And, in so doing, just Be There for when the grieving want to RAISE spiritual questions (for which the SL probably has no answers—but can affirm the question/questioner).

St Francis (attrib): “Preach the Gospel always; use words only when necessary”.

JC Fisher

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