Reflecting on a recent Pew poll on the religious life of Americans, Elizabeth Drescher complicates how we should understand the rise of the "nones," many of which she claims "are believers of one sort or another." She notes that, according to the Pew report, nones "“attach much less importance to belonging to a community of people with shared values and belief":
Does this mean that Nones eschew spiritual community? My own research for a forthcoming book on the spiritual lives of Religious Nones suggests otherwise. Though my research is very preliminary at this stage, the desire for community in which religious or spiritual concerns can be shared consistently emerges from interviews with self-identified Nones. That doesn’t, however, mean they’re looking for a community in which there are “shared values and beliefs” that would be expressed in doctrines or creeds.
Rather, especially among younger Nones raised in environments where religious pluralism and associated tolerance were regarded positively, finding community in which multiple points of view and diverse practices are welcomed is a commonly-reported desire. Among the Nones I’ve interviewed, “I don’t want to feel like I have to edit myself” is a frequent expression of a desire to find spiritual community not shaped primarily by assent to particular beliefs and values.