Today, Alaskans are on average less religious than the rest of the country, and a subset who don’t identify with any particular religion is growing, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
“I grew up fairly religious, went to organized church, and then kept that going probably through the first year of college, and kind of lessened that. Now I don’t practice anything specific,” Chelsea Maller, a Juneau local, said.
Despite this, Maller said she still prays.
“I would say that’s the most consistent thing I keep up with if anything,” Maller said. “Just giving myself a peace even if I don’t necessarily feel like if I need to go worship in a church or anything like that.”
Maller falls into a growing group of the religiously unaffiliated, which can include anyone from atheists to the “spiritual but not religious” types.
The Pew Research Center refers to this group collectively as “nones,” which originates from the “none of the above” option on a religion survey.
In Alaska, about 3 out of 10 people are nones. Nationwide, it’s 2 out of 10. Both have grown since 2007.
A common misconception about nones is they don’t have any beliefs — but like Maller many of them fall into a spiritual gray area.
Elizabeth Drescher, the author of the book, “Choosing our Religion: the Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones” conducted her own research on the subject.
“It turns out that about 70 percent of the religiously unaffiliated, or nones, believe in God or a life force or some kind of higher power,” Drescher said. “They don’t identify with a particular religious tradition, even though they might participate in things that are kind of obviously religious to most of…