[Ads-l] Nones (2005)

dave at WILTON.NET dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Feb 5 21:26:32 UTC 2020

I found two citations from 1967/68. Given the context and the fact that the author has to cite himself to acknowledge earlier uses of the term, I think this is very close to the term's origin. ("None" has been a category in Gallup's polling of religious affiliation since 1948, but I haven't found any earlier use as a noun in this sense.)

Vernon, Glenn M. "The Religious 'Nones': A Neglected Category." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 7.2 (Autumn 1968), 219–226, on pp. 219–220:

"The use of the 'independent' label suggests that the lack of political party affiliation does not mean that one is apolitical or has no political convictions. He is still viewed as a political person. Perhaps this is because the act of voting serves as the primary validation of political participation. There is no comparable religious phenomenon, no clearly recognized religious behavior other than membership, attendance, or other identification with a formal religious group. Thus, 'none' is used in religious research, designating no religious affiliation, but also adding the gratuitous implication of a nonreligious person."

Vernon, Glenn M. "Marital Characteristics of Religious Independents." Review of Religious Research, 9.3 (Spring 1968), 162–70, on p. 162:

"When the sociologist of religion reports his research, he at times includes a somewhat residual category of 'none' under which is frequently included such diverse individuals as atheists, agnostics, those with 'no preference,' those with 'no affiliation' as well as practicing and/or believing 'nones'—those without affiliation who engage in ritual behavior and/or accept premises incorporated in the beliefs of the affiliated religionists. These are the 'religious nones' to which previous attention has been called."

(Despite the earlier date, the "previous attention" in the second quote is a reference to a mimeographed 1967 version of Vernon's Autumn 1968 article, presumably one that was informally circulating while the article was under peer review.)

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of ADSGarson O'Toole
Sent: Monday, February 3, 2020 3:46 PM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Nones (2005)

Here is a 1970 citation. The list of religious options apparently was not exhaustive; hence, the 'nones' category may have include some followers of religion. The text is ambiguous (to me). Did "none" mean "no religion" or "none of the options listed". The headline used the word "religionless".

Date: October 25, 1970
Newspaper: Los Angeles Times
Newspaper Location:
Article: Study Gives Profile of Religionless Americans
Author: John Dart (Times Religion Writer) Quote Page A8, Column 1
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt - please double check for errors] The roughly 2% of persons who have declined in six national Gallup, polls to identify themselves as Protestant, Catholic or Jew were studied by two University of Georgia researchers who said the "religious 'nones' has been a neglected category of study."
. . .
"The 'nones' were also more likely to be male (70%) and to fall in the
20- to 29-year-old category." they added [End excerpt]


On Mon, Feb 3, 2020 at 1:29 PM <dave at wilton.net> wrote:
> I'm looking for early examples of "nones" or "none" used to refer to people with no formal religious affiliation/identity (includes atheists, agnostics, and "spiritual" people).
> The earliest I've found is this from 2005:
> Bibby, Reginald and Stuart MacDonald. “Restless expert sees church growth.” The Presbyterian Record, 129.4, Apr 2005, 46.
> “Indeed, if it was included in his list of major religious groups in Restless Churches (Table 2.7) the 'religious nones' would rank as the second largest denomination in Canada.”
> Bibby wrote a 2004 book "Restless Churches." I'll check that out of the library tomorrow to see if he uses it there. But I'm wondering if anyone has a line on earlier uses. "None" is a devilishly difficult word to search for.
> --Dave Wilton
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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