The rise of religious "nones" in the United States – people who do not officially associate with a specific religion – is being driven in part by the right-leaning politics of conservative Christians, a new study suggests.
A study published in April in the journal Political Research Quarterly, focused on states with policies against gay marriage, and found a correlation with the number of people who do not identify with a specific religion.
The study, co-written by University at Buffalo political scientist Jacob Neiheisel, found from 2006-10, the gap between the nones in gay marriage-ban states and those in states with no marriage ban had been cut in half, decreasing from 3.1 percent to 1.4 percent over that period — showing a greater percentage of people left the church in states where the religious right is most active.
"Regardless of which measure of religious right activity in the states that we used, in states that saw contentious fights over same-sex marriage, the political presence of right-leaning religious groups tracks with the rate of religious nones," Neilheisel said in a statement posted on the science news site EurekAlert.org.
"You don't see people sorting along political lines or leaving churches as a result of the activity of a combination of religious and political organizations, until you start to see changes in the policy arena," he added.
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