The Rise of the Nones
Why America is becoming less Christian and more compassionate
Something significant happened recently. Did you notice? I would completely understand if you didn’t. A world in chaos because of a global pandemic is still making headlines. Our nation’s political tensions that pose a very real threat to our democracy are also wreaking havoc on our ability to focus on anything else.
But like me, if you pay attention to polls related to religion and spirituality, you’ve heard about this important shift in our nation’s religious affiliations and beliefs. The data is stunning, yet for those of us who have rejected the toxic theology that permeates America’s Christianity, not surprising.
For the first time in history, people in the U.S. who say they are affiliated with religion fell below 50%.
Hear that, America? We are no longer a Christian nation. If you are shocked, then you haven’t been paying attention. Perhaps a more accurate reflection would be to say that Christians have chosen to ignore the eight-decade trend that led to this moment.
This is not a fluke, folks. The shift toward a non-Christian country is 80 years in the making. In 1999, 70% of Americans identified with religion. In 2018 that was down to 50%. The latest data shows that a whopping 53% of Americans now say they are no longer affiliated with any religion -- including Christianity. In other words, the majority are now non-religious.
Many sent up flares to warn of this day of reckoning. We longed for our religious heritage to pay attention and learn from those of us who could no longer reconcile our spirituality to a toxic theology that suffocated basic human rights, justified its affiliation to white supremacy, and dehumanized entire swathes of the population.
Yet our cries for social justice, moral equity and a bigger table for humanity were met with the same smackdowns that for years have been the face of the American Christian. We were tossed aside with words of condemnation so vitriolic that it is hard to believe they came from people who espouse to live their lives as Jesus did.
That is the greatest lie taught at this moment in Christianity -- one that reconciles a toxic faith with a compassionate Christ. And this I believe, is the reason why people are rejecting it in record numbers, walking out of church doors and vowing never to return.
Yes -- all religions experienced a drop in membership. However, Christians pride themselves in calling America a Christian nation and this data confirms a Pew Research Center poll from 2019 that revealed the declining numbers in churches throughout the country.
Some entrenched in religious beliefs may say this confirms that people are turning away from God.
Please... just don’t.
We aren’t rejecting God -- we are rejecting your version of God, and we are growing tired of the religious radicalism that has a stranglehold on human rights in this country.
Several months ago, I wrote about The Radicalization of Christianity. This departure from organized religion is the repercussion of the false narrative that America is a Christian nation built on Christian values. The truth is, America is a nation held hostage by white nationalists entrenched in a radicalized Christianity that denies basic human rights for BlPOC, women, and the LGBTQIA+ community.
Knowing they no longer can control the beliefs of an awakening population has led these radicals to align with corrupt politicians, who lie and cheat their way into power - and if that means suppressing the rights of their fellow human beings to vote and live safely in this country, so be it.
In the radicalized Christian’s mind, all is fair in the name of their religion and toxic theology. One that looks nothing like what Jesus envisioned.
And because of their refusal to acknowledge what has brought us here, Christianity will one day become utterly irrelevant in modern society.
This used to break my heart. I longed for my religious heritage to model the words and life of Jesus and turn away from the antiquated patriarchal system that has no place in the 21st century.
But time has a way of healing wounds, wounds that have become a testament to my empowered vision to help others heal from religious trauma and become grounded in their spiritual authenticity.
In other words, I am no longer waiting for religion to change. I’ve stopped focusing on its downfall and have set my sights on the growing community of “Nones.”
So to my fellow “Nones” -- those who reject organized religion– I say, don’t give up hope. Christian politicians mired in corruption and phobic beliefs may be doing all they can to suffocate democracy, but I believe as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did…
“We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
We must continue to work towards a kinder, more compassionate, and equitable existence for all. That should be who America is.
And now, with my back fully turned to the radicalized Christianity of my heritage and standing in unity with all Americans regardless of their gender identity, the color of their skin, where they were born, or who they love, I say “Amen” and “Hallelujah” that we have grown beyond the need to be spoon-fed from the pulpit.
Come, let us hold hands and work together for liberty and justice for all.