Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2020) 59(1):180–189


Copyright © 2020 The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Published by Wiley. Used by permission


Americans with no religious affiliation (aka religious “Nones”) are not a politically homogeneous community. Just as there are political differences between groups of Christians, there are political differences between groups of religious Nones. I use nationally representative survey data to examine the political activities and perspectives of atheists, agnostics, and those who are “nothing in particular.” Results show that Americans who report that their religion is nothing in particular are relatively uninterested in politics and unlikely to be politically active; atheists are relatively liberal and likely to experience political conflict and follow political news; and agnostics are particularly likely to vote and feel politically isolated from their families. In many ways, the “softer” secularism of those who are nothing in particular is politically more similar to religious affiliates than the “harder” secularism of agnostics and especially atheists. These results have important implications for the future of American politics as Nones now have the potential to rival evangelical Protestants as a politically relevant constituency.

Includes supplementary materials.