'Religious nones' on the way to becoming largest 'religious' group in the USA

(Photo Credit: Taize Community)People are seen at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome during a prayer gathering organized as part of event linked to the 35th European Meeting of the Taize Community on Decmeber 29, 2012.

A recent survey which reveals that young Latinos are leaving the Roman Catholic Church in large numbers also show these people are fleeing to become "religious nones."

The results of a national survey recently released by the Pew Research Center revealed that close to a third of Latino adult respondents under 30 don't belong to a faith group. 

That's a jump of 17 percentage points in just the last three years, said Pew.

Religious nones, or simply "nones," are defined as those who don't belong to any faith group.

The word "nones" is an abbreviation of the phrase "None of the above" normally found in surveys. The nones are now being described as the USA's fastest-growing "religious movement."

Of the nation's 35.4 million Latinos, 55 percent are Catholic, 22 percent Protestant and 18 percent unaffiliated or nones, according to a survey of Latinos by Pew.

A few years ago, two-thirds of Latinos were Catholic. Nearly one in four Hispanic adults today is a former Catholic, said Pew.

Other recent studies conducted by Pew revealed that close to a third of all millennials or Americans between the ages of 18 to 33 are religiously unaffiliated, a result that is a significant and continuing change from past generations.

Pew noted that the demise of organized religion, specifically Catholicism, is most dramatic among young Latinos. The trends highlighted by Pew's Latino survey also mirror large-scale shifts in the American population as whole.

Surveys conducted by Pew among the general population in the USA in 2013 uncovered results broadly similar to those in the Latinos survey.

The 2013 surveys showed that 22 percent of the respondents are Catholics; 20 percent are nones (a combination of people who say they believe "nothing in particular" or are unaffiliated believers and unbelievers) while 18 percent are white evangelicals.

Pew noted that one of the most striking recent trends in the American religious panorama has been the increasing share of the unaffiliated or nones. 

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