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The number of Americans who claim no religious identity in surveys, dubbed “nones” by some experts, has doubled in the past decade, making them possibly the third-largest group in the country, after Catholics and Baptists. Yet most of these 29 million people have spiritual beliefs, according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey. Two-thirds believe in God, and more than one-third consider themselves religious. The challenge for religion journalists: finding them, and finding ways to write stories about the ways they express their beliefs. Most religion coverage still deals with institutions and the people who frequent them. In the early 21st century, official religion doesn’t provide an adequate portrait of faith in America, but journalists can complete the picture by asking people to explain how they express their beliefs in everyday life.


  • Blogs, chat rooms, Web page forums and LISTSERVs. A quarter of Internet surfers have searched online for religious information, and 81 percent described their faith commitment as “very strong,” according to “Cyberfaith: How Americans Pursue Religion Online”, a 2001 survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

  • Check out bookstores, conferences, yoga and meditation classes, volunteer efforts and clubs that may draw people with spiritual beliefs.

  • Ask about rituals that take place outside institutions —prayer,weddings, funerals,home altars, journaling, etc.