by Sharon Stanley, Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
The “nones” is a term used to describe the 16.1% of Americans who identify themselves as non-affiliated with any religion, according to studies by Pew Research. The “nones” includes atheists, agnostics, and people with no affiliation at all, secular unaffiliated and religious unaffiliated. The group does not include Unitarian Universalists or Ethical Humanists, which fall under a different category called “Liberal Religions” and encompasses 0.7% of the population.
Here are some interesting facts about the “nones” James Croft, Ethical Culture Leader-In-Training, pointed out during a workshop at the American Ethical Union’s 2014 Assembly:
- Most of these people are “young,” in their 20s and 30s, which is a common time to be questioning religious upbringing and researching other world views.
- They are not looking to join a religion, although they are quite diverse in their beliefs and world views.
- They are unlikely to join a Sunday morning congregation.
Ethical Humanism is in a unique position to be able to provide congregational institutions to attract the “nones.” We can increase our membership and assist in creating a new block of secular voters. For example, the Houston Oasis and The Humanist Hub are two successful groups of this nature. Imagine The Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island as an active humanist hub with a variety of activities for a diversity of people of all ages.
Right now the Society is the only humanist group on Long Island fortunate enough to have a building. I have been brainstorming with others on how to continually draw and sustain new members. A couple of us from the Ethical Humanist Society have added programming by partnering with the American Humanist Association and becoming an active chapter. We meet on the last Tuesday of each month upstairs in our Society. Our plan is to concentrate on issues involving maintaining the separation of church and state and social action projects not currently being supported at our Society, yet fit with the core beliefs of Ethical Culture. We have created a “Humanists of Long Island” Facebook page and are currently being advertised on our Society website and in our newsletter. Beginning in January, we will begin advertising in local newspapers, online publications, and reaching out to local colleges.
Our premise is that all Ethical Society and Humanist concerns can be addressed together. Thinking outside of the box is the one way to attract the “nones.” Not only will it contribute to the growth and viability of our Society, it also furthers our common goal: to make the world a better place.