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One-in-five U.S. adults living without religious affiliation

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Political strategists and pundits alike may have to add the "unaffiliated voting block" to their vernacular when formulating campaign plans and discussing voter trends.

A report released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life on Tuesday found that one in five Americans - and one-third of adults under 30 - do not identify with any organized religion. In the past five years alone, the number of unaffiliated Americans jumped from around 15 percent to just shy of 20 percent.

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This growing demographic includes 46 million Americans who are not necessarily nonreligious but are, as the Pew study points out, "less religious than the public at large on many conventional measures, including frequency of attendance at religious services and the degree of importance they attach to religion in their lives." About 13 million identify as agnostic or atheist, and the remainder are religious or spiritual in some way but claim no particular affiliation.

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One intriguing line of questioning in the study suggests that unaffiliated Americans are more likely than their affiliated counterparts to feel that churches and other religious organizations are too concerned with money and power or are too involved with politics. They are also less inclined to see religious organizations as strengthening community bonds or upholding morality.

We want to hear your take on this. If you do not have a religious affiliation, why not? How do you express your spirituality? If you do have a religious affiliation, why do you think the numbers are shrinking, and what do you think can or should be done about it? Weigh in below with a comment.

Photo: --Tico--/Flickr/Creative Commons License

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