Fun Facts about Nones

I've been poring over data as it relates to religious "nones" for, well, far too long. The statistics are really fascinating — but not nearly as fascinating as bullet-pointed lists. So here's both — a mashup, if you will. Read. Enjoy. Be fascinated. nones We tend to lean left. Nones make up 20 percent of the nation's registered Independents, 16 percent of its Democrats and 8 percent of its Republicans. In 1990, those numbers were 12, 6 and 6, respectively.

• We tend to be young. More than one-third of 18-to-24-year-olds claimed “no religion” compared to just 7 percent of those 75 and older.

• We generally avoid the Bible Belt. Geographically speaking, nones live around other nones. Statistically, Northern New England is the least religious section of the country, and Vermont is the least religious state.

• Many of us are first-generation secular. Only 32 percent of "current" nones reported that they were nonreligious at age 12. Almost a quarter of us are former Catholics.

 We have a shortage of women. Only 12 percent of American women are classified as nones, versus 19% of American men.

• Class and education is a non-issue. Nones mirror the general population in terms of education and income.

• Race is a declining factor. Latinos, for instance, tripled their proportion among nones between 1990 (4 percent) and 2008 (12 percent.)

• Kiss us; we're Irish. Asians, Irish and Jews are the most secularized ethnic origin groups. One-third of all nones are of Irish descent.

• We’re sad and stressed. Research suggests religious people are happier and less stressed because of social contact and support that result from religious pursuits, as well as the feeling of well-being that come with optimism, volunteering and learned coping strategies.

• We’ve got brainpower. As individuals, atheists score higher on measures of intelligence, especially verbal ability and scientific literacy. They are also more likely to practice safe sex than the strongly religious and far more likely to value freedom of thought.

• We’re as moral as they come. Contrary to Psalms 14 — which says we're all a bunch of corrupt, filthy ne'er-do-wells — nonbelievers actually score higher than their religious peers on basic questions of morality and human decency. Markers include governmental use of torture, the death penalty, punitive hitting of children, racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, environmental degradation and human rights.

Nonreligious Parents a 'Niche' Market? Not By My Count

NicheWhen I started pitching "Relax, It's Just God" two years ago, I was told, repeatedly, that it was too niche for major publishers. At the time, I assumed this was true. After all, we live in a religious country. If I wanted to appeal to the masses, there were certainly better ways to go. But since then, I've come to strongly disagree with the contention that we of little faith are some hugely specialized market. And, today, I did some number-crunching. Now I'm no statistician, so feel free to check me on this.

I started with some basic Census information:

• 313 million people live in the United States and 83.7 million of them are adults between the ages of 25 and 44.

Then I broke some numbers out by age and gender:

• 21.1 million adults are in the 25-29 range — including 10.5 million women and 10.6 million men

• 62.6 million adults are in the 30-44 range — including 31.5 million women and 31.1 million men

Then I discovered that roughly 74 percent of women and 62 percent of men between the ages and 25 and 44 are parents. I calculated that into this:

•  7.8 million women between the ages of 25 and 29 are moms.

• 6.6 million men between the ages of 25 and 29 are dads.

• 23.3 million women between the ages of 30 to 44 are moms.

• 19.3 million men between the ages of 30 and 44 are dads.

Then I considered this:

• 32 percent of all adults between the ages of 25 and 29 consider themselves "nonreligious" — that is, they don't subscribe to any particular faith.

• 21 percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 44 consider themselves nonreligious.

Now, if we can assume that parents and non-parents are equally likely to be religious as they are to be nonreligious, then we should be able to play these numbers against each other. And when we do, we find this:

• 13.3 million American parents between the ages of 25 and 44 are nonreligious.

That's more than one in five parents. And it doesn't even include parents younger than 25 and older than 44. [Nor, as one kind reader pointed out to me, does it include parents who consider themselves "religious" but are looking for advice on raising open-minded children who will not become slaves to any particular belief system.]

So my question is this: What's so niche about that?