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Being Good Without (Much) God: Ethical Practices of the Religiously Unaffiliated
Elizabeth Drescher, Santa Clara University
Much attention has been focused of late on the so-called “Nones”—people who do not identify or affiliate with traditional religions. While a number of Nones identify as atheists or agnostics, most do not, with the majority retaining a belief in God or a Universal Spirit. Still, though their practices may draw from traditional religions, they are often generously seasoned with other approaches to meaning-making, self-realization, and social engagement that fall outside religious frameworks. As the population of Nones grows, it is reasonable to consider what impact this might have on the development personal and public values and associated ethical practices. Drawing on interviews and narrative surveys with Nones across the country, this talk will offer a preliminary exploration of the ethical practices of Nones, considering how these may be shaping a new ethical ethos in the United States.
Elizabeth Drescher, PhD is a scholar, writer, and public speaker whose work focuses on spirituality and meaning-making in everyday life. She teachers religion and pastoral ministries at Santa Clara University, is a journalism fellow with the Social Science Research Council’s “New Directions in the Study of Prayer” project, and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches. She is currently at work at on Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (Forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2014).