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By Kristin Rudolph

“We’re living in a time of spiritual climate change,” Diana Butler Bass told attendees of a recent United Methodist Association of Communicators conference in Arlington, VA. Bass, an Episcopalian, church historian, and author of the book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening has “bright optimism” for the future of American Christianity despite the precipitous decline of mainline denominations over the past several decades.

Discussing the growth of “spirituality,” Bass reviewed statistics on the “rise of the nones” reported by the Pew Forum showing the “significant decline in the number who describe themselves as ‘Protestant.’” The “nones” do not identify with any particular religious group and also do not describe themselves as atheist or agnostic. Generally they prefer “spirituality” to “religion.” In just six years, the number of self-described Protestants has decreased by five percent, and for the first time since religious polling began in America, less than half of the population describe themselves as “Protestant.”

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