Religious ‘nones’ now outnumber Catholics and evangelical Protestants

Americans who don’t belong to any religion now reportedly outnumber the nation’s largest religious groups.

“Nones” — as Pew Research Center identifies people with no religious affiliation — made up 28% of the 3,300 respondents surveyed for a study published Wednesday called “Religious ‘Nones’ in America: Who They Are and What They Believe.”

Meanwhile, Americans who identify as evangelical Protestants account for 24% of the population, while Catholics reportedly comprise 23%.

Atheists and agnostics accounted for 37% of those who told researchers they have no religious ties, while 63% simply don’t identify with a specific faith. Nearly 70% of “nones” are under the age of 50 and 63% of them are white.

The average atheist and agnostic is reportedly better educated than Americans affiliated with a religion, according to the Pew Research Center — though respondents whose religious views were labeled as “nothing in particular” mostly had less education than religiously affiliated adults.

Only 5% on “nones” think religion does more harm than good, while 56% believe the opposite. Nearly 40% said religion is equally helpful and harmful.

“Most say religion causes a variety of problems in society — like intolerance or superstition,” researchers said. “But many ‘nones’ also say that religion helps give people meaning and purpose, and that it can encourage people to treat each other well.”

“Nones,” on average, have far more positive views about science than religiously affiliated people, but more than half agree there are still some things science can’t explain.

While lead researcher Gregory Smith said religious “nones” are “among the most strongly and consistently liberal and Democratic constituencies in the United States,” religiously affiliated people are reportedly more likely to vote or volunteer, researchers found.

The latest research shows a stark contrast to 2007, when “nones” comprised just 16% of Americans surveyed.