Religious ‘nones’ could shake up American politics — but many roadblocks stand in their way

By Kelsey Dallas

SALT LAKE CITY — In 2016, religiously unaffiliated Americans, or “nones,” represented 21 percent of registered voters, one percentage point more than white evangelical Christians. However, they only accounted for 15 percent of actual voters, according to Pew Research Center and national exit polls.

Secular activists see the gap between these two figures as a call to action for 2018 and beyond. They plan to improve voter turnout and shape the “nones” into a dominant political force.

“We want to be seen as a powerhouse constituency,” said Sarah Levin, director of grass-roots and community programs at the Secular Coalition for America.

If that happens, the “nones” could help drive faith groups from the public square, reducing religious exemptions meant to protect people with more conservative beliefs, said John Green, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. But that’s a big “if,” he added.

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