The growth of the “nones” — the cohort of Americans who are either atheist, agnostic of unaffiliated with a specific faith or denomination — has sparked an attempt to rally these individuals into a cohesive voting bloc leading up to the 2016 election.
The Secular Coalition for America, an atheist advocacy group, announced in a statement this week that the organization, under the leadership of its new executive director Larry T. Decker, will work to “unite the ‘nones’” in the coming months.
“Decker seeks to employ his nearly 20 years of policy experience to unify the ‘nones,’ the segment of Americans who do not identify with any particular religion, and their allies into a recognized voting bloc ahead of the 2016 elections,” the statement read.
This is notable, considering that the proportion of “nones” in America has grown in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, this proportion moved from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2014.
But the “nones” are not necessarily atheist or agnostic, as TheBlaze has extensively documented.
While the umbrella group most certainly includes non-believers, the latest Pew data shows that 61 percent of “nones” still believe in “God or [a] universal spirit,” though that proportion is down from the 70 percent that was observed in 2007.
Still, the Secular Coalition for America sees an opportunity to harness the political power of this growing cohort, with Decker, who himself identifies as an unaffiliated Christian, looking to connect political candidates with atheist, agnostic and humanist Americans.
“Our nation takes pride in our commitment to civil rights and civil liberties,” he said in the press release. “In 2016, everyone should feel comfortable being open about who they are and unafraid to reject the imposition of other people’s beliefs in their own lives.”
Decker continued, “Unfortunately, hateful and insulting rhetoric toward nontheists and minority faiths cause many to feel that there is no place for them in our society.”
He said that the Secular Coalition for America plans to defend those who are “stigmatized” and remind candidates to stand for everyone.
It is unclear how the Secular Coalition for America will harness the power of the “nones,” though Pew data pointed to a fascinating dynamic that the organization will likely find useful while pursuing its efforts.
Researchers found that the growth of the “nones” has had a “particularly pronounced impact on the Democratic Party coalition.” Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults, the “nones,” as a singular religious group, now outnumber any other group, including evangelicals, Catholics, mainline Protestants and other religious cohorts.
Despite making up just 19 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults back in 2007, the unaffiliated now account for 28 percent, compared to the 21 percent who are Catholics and the 16 percent who are evangelicals.￼￼￼￼￼￼
Back in 2007, the proportion of Catholics was 24 percent and the proportion of evangelicals came in at 19 percent, according to Pew analysis.