"The rise of the nones" is the attention-grabbing phrase used to describe the well-documented increase in the percentage of Americans who, when queried by survey researchers about their religious identification, say "none."
This remarkable social trend has received significant publicity in recent years, based on generally similar research produced by Gallup, Pew Research Center, NORC's General Social Survey and others.
The research shows that between about 20% and 25% of U.S. adults are now "nones" and — in a finding emphasized in many news reports — that this percentage is higher among younger adults than those who are older. One opinion columnist's recent article in The Washington Post, to which I will return below, is titled "Why Millennials Are Skipping Church and Not Going Back."
This type of speculation about the future religiosity of millennials bears further scrutiny. I think the picture is complex, but there are signs that older millennials may in fact, contrary to the headline, be going back to religion.