National Press Club Discussion

On October 9, 2012, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly hosted a panel discussion at the National Press Club to explore the impact of the rise of the religiously unaffiliated—often called “the nones”—on politics. The discussion was based in part on a new joint survey by Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly and the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life which looked at the characteristics, beliefs and practices of the 46 million Americans who now describe themselves as not affiliated with any particular religion.

The panel featured Bob Abernethy, host and executive editor of Religion & Ethic NewsWeekly, Kim Lawton, managing editor of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Greg Smith, senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Mike McCurry, veteran communications strategist and spokesperson, and Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Watch video excerpts of panelists discussing the survey findings and how the rise of the “nones” may challenge political parties.


  • Channah

    And what is wrong with ”none”? People are becomming more ”humanists” now, and I think this might be good. They are thinking more about the individual man and a good interaction with each other, sans pushinga theology on each other.

  • GodVlogger on YouTube

    at 2:45, Mike McCurry (the guy in the tan blazer) gives a *warped* view of the results.

    The results show that 20% of Americans are NOT affiliated with any religion. But Mike McCurry asserts that because many of the “non-affiliated” still believe in some sort of spirituality, that these people thus do not want “secularism”. He is wrong, as per the results.

    Perhaps it depends on your definition of “secularism”.
    Here are definitions of secularism from the top few dictionaries online:
    “the view that public education and other matters of civil policy should be conducted without the introduction of a religious element.”
    “The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.”

    OK, so what do the ACTUAL results show? The view the “religious organizations are too involved in politics” is agreed to by 67% of the unaffiliated, and agreed to by 46% of all Americans. Thus, 2/3 of unaffiliated want a more secular approach to government (and, interestingly, even many religious believers ALSO want a government with LESS religious intrusion). Thus, Mike McCurry’s comments are misleading.

  • Sahara

    To those who consider themselves among the “Nones” and yet still believe in the existence of God, I strongly urge them to look into Deism and to study the beliefs of Thomas Paine and others who may feel as he did. No one ever described Deism and the nature of a believable God better than he did. I strongly recommend that the “seekers” study his writings and to look up Deism on the web and elsewhere.

    A Deist is someone who believes in God based on the observance of nature, on experience and on reason – the natural commonsense that we were all born with, but which many people prefer to check at the church house door. I personally believe that God made the Earth and the heavens and that he did it by way of evolution. Many Deists believe that God does not interfere in the affairs of humans but I personally have reasons to believe that He does. Deism allows for differences in our beliefs. It is not an organized or man-made religion. It is as natural as life and love and morality and the awe we feel when we first see the Grand Canyon, the continuous renewal of life and other real evidence of the existence of a God who love us and his whole creation .He is not an angry or vengeful God and He does not require evil things to be done in his name.

    For many reasons, I can no longer believe in any of the organized, man-made religions, including the southern Pentecostal Holiness Church which I grew up with in the South. I believe they were invented by man to control people, their lives and their resources through fear, domination and intimdation, and that they are merely regurgitations of ancient Egyptian mythology. In those myths, there has been no less than 13 virgins who each gave birth to the “sons of God” who were sent to save the world, who were killed and who rose up to heaven.

    I found true and lasting happiness, freedom and confidence in being a Deist. I look at of all the misery, suffering enslavement, degradation, exploitation and deaths carried out in the name of the God of man-made religions, now and in the past, and I want no part of them. Life is the greatest gift God has given to us and these people seem to have very little regard for it unless they can profit from it in some way.

    I am a kind and highly moral person who sees all life as being sacred and worthy of the best treatment I can give and I will never be made to believe that I have to belong to a manmade religion n order to be a moral person. My values do include those of the ten commandments in the Bible, but most Christians seem to pick and choose only those that they wish to obey, depending on their desires and agendas. People of the organized religions and their governments kill scores of humans everyday, mostly the innocent. No one ever mentions the commandment that says, “Thou shall not kill.” I am not perfect, but whatever I may be, I am not a hypocrite. My “Holy Book” is written in nature and in a language all people can understand, and also in my heart and in my innate, God-given sense of right and wrong, good and bad and love for this planet-home, the resources of which He has given for all of us to share equally and in peace.

    No one is a stronger believer of God than I am. My God does not need a middleman – not clergymen, not virgins to impregnate, not sons to kill, or prophets. I look out upon the Creation and see the endless web of life, the vast scope of Earth’s diversity, the intricate interdependence and never ending cycle of life, and I know that all of this is definitely not due to chance.

    For all that man does and has done, he ultimately destroys, not create — and he never has, and never will, be able to improve anything that God has made. To even try to is to say that God is imperfect and inferior to them.
    Man can’t even make a single blade of living, growing grass and yet I can look upon that leaf and endless other things we take for granted, as true miracles – even the fact that I can merely think about moving my finger and it happens.

    Decades ago, when he was a teenager, someone I knew asked his Mother one Sunday morning why they had to go to church. She replied ,”Because if we don’t, people will talk”. He refused to go then and hasn’t been to church since. I think a lot of people go to church just because they feel they have to, simply to keep up public appearances. To live a life based on such intimidation is so sad!

    Everyone who believes in God, but don’t have a name to give to their true set of beliefs and values, may find that they are really Deists and don’t know it.


  • Stephen Reilly

    I can understand the disillusion with religions but there is a terrible effect on our society as people embrace “none of the above”. I am to become a godfather to two little girls that I want to raise within the Catholic Church. I hope that this will give them a strong base to deal with life as it has in my life.

    A strong base -A strong moral character is needed at the very root of a multinational country like the US. TheMystery of Life includes the Evil of our lives. 9/11 deeply effected me as well as the scandals with in my own church. To throw up your hands and say I believe BUT is not the answer.

    I have become more religious over the last 11 years and more open to tolerate the lifestyle of others….