Although they are the fastest growing group in America’s religious landscape, the nonreligious (hereafter, nones) are little understood. Nascent study of the nones is rife with anecdotal evidence and case studies, but large-scale surveys of the nones have been lacking. The Making Meaning in a Post-Religious America Project will remedy that with a nationwide survey and a subsequent, comprehensive interpretation of the survey’s results, benefiting those interested in the nones — and benefiting them nones themselves — for years, and answering the questions:
-Who are the nones?
-How are the nones making meaning without religion?
-What resources will aid the nones in their search for meaning?
The proposed project will proceed in three phases. In the first, a nationwide survey of unprecedented scope will gauge the beliefs, longings, and demographics of the nones. In phase two, the results of the survey will be studied, and classifications will be developed for various categories of nones. In phase three, a cross-disciplinary group of theologians and social scientists will come together to examine the established categories and develop resources for the nones of each category.
Deliverables will include: the dataset from the survey; a book on the survey results; another book about the categories of nones; public webinars for scholars and journalists; journal articles; media engagement; and an online tool by which nones can determine their own spiritual interests and be routed to valuable resources.
And maybe most importantly, this project will aid the nones in their own spiritual care by giving them language to frame their own search for meaning and providing them resources for that ongoing quest. Our hope is that for years to come, nones will benefit from the classifications that come from the survey, using that to better understand themselves and to further their pursuit of meaning without religion.