What ‘Nones’ are Passing on to Their Children


Saturday, March 2, 2019 (All day)


Center for the Study of World Religions, 42 Francis Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
On Friday, March 1, Harvard Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions held an event entitled, “Parenting Outside of Religion: What ‘Nones’ are Passing on to Their Children.”  This event was part of a lecture series hosted by the Nonreligion and SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious) Research Seminar, and it featured Christel Manning, Professor of Religious Studies at Sacred Heart University.  Manning has spent the last decade studying the growing group of Americans who identify with no religious group, i.e. those who check “none” on a survey about religious identity. She shared 2017 data from a variety of sources suggesting that 20-30% of American adults and 36% of American millennials fall in this category. Manning’s research has led her to interview hundreds of none-identifying people across the nation, and turned up some fascinating results.  Recognizing the diversity of the group, Manning divides “nones” into four different segments: unchurched believers, seeker spiritualists, philosophical secularists, and indifferents.  Her research into none parenting has also given her some helpful categories of parenting practices, including conventional religious routes (church, synagogue, etc.), alternative options (such as Unitarian Universalist congregations that offer a more pluralist take on religion), self-provided religious teaching (in the home), outsourcing (sending children to religious education programs without their parents) or not providing any sort of religious or spiritual teachings to children. Manning’s lecture reviewed her research, with ample time for questions about everything from how geography and income might affect the religious affiliation of families, to the potential benefits of raising children with or without religion.  Overall, it was clear that people with no religious affiliation are a diverse, nuanced and growing group in America—one that deserves further exploration and research.