Over at the Huffington Post, Sean McCloud reflects on the continued attention given to religious disaffiliation in the American media. Using a recent NPR Morning Edition story as an example he suggests that journalists and scholars alike are actively at work constructing the ‘nones’ category and doing so in particular ways:
Simply put, Pew’s and NPR’s envisioning of “nones” constructs “religion” as something institutional. Conversely, one could offer an alternative reading suggesting that the vast majority of “nones” are really “somes” who hold to concepts such as a god, gods, supernatural powers and ghosts. A minority of those polled identified as atheists/non-theists/non-supernaturalists and, as Steven Ramey noted in a recent HuffPost Religion blog, about 55 percent of those put into the “nones” category even described themselves as either “religious” or “spiritual.” Like so many other examples of social scientific studies — and journalism — the Pew and NPR discussions of “nones” and “religion” did more than described things, they constituted them.
By way of Catherine Albanese, McCloud goes on to suggest the usefulness of situating the “nones” within what he considers the well worn American tradition of “combinative” religion. Read the full piece here. See also Courtney Bender and Omar McRoberts’ TIF post on the difficulties of studying the “spiritual” landscapes traveled by some of these so called “nones.”