Report Mapping Religious Nones in the World (2020)

Co-developed by the Center for Religious Studies and the Center for Information and Communication Technology, this research area constitutes a sub-field of ISR’s projects Arguing Religion, Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Spirituality and Lifestyles. It intends to improve our understanding of religious non-affiliation in contemporary societies. To study the variety of (non)religious beliefs held by the so-called religious nones in order to identify underexplored intra-group differences is a first step toward the analysis of other aspects of social life typically associated with religious (non-)affiliation, like political participation or social and institutional trust.

Religious non-affiliation is an increasingly discussed topic. Nones constitute a rapidly growing population that occupies a central role in the secularization debate. The report “Mapping Religious Nones in 112 Countries” uses European Values Study and World Values Survey data collected between 1981 and 2020 to offer an overview of socio-demographic characteristics, geographical distribution, and religiosity of non-affiliated respondents. In four decades nones doubled at a global level reaching 25.9% – 21.7% in non-European countries – and triplicated in Europe with 30.2%. On average, non-affiliation is more common among male, young and highly educated respondents living in densely populated areas. Particular attention is dedicated to religious beliefs, attendance of religious services and relevance attributed by religious nones to God in their everyday life.


Download here the Report “Mapping Religious Nones in 112 Countries: An Overview of European Values Study and World Values Survey Data (1981-2020)”


Percentage of religious nones in 112 countries, EVS/WVS (1981-2020)


The future developments of the research area of non-religious studies are of particular concern. In the wider context of ‘religion and innovation’, the project underlines how critical questions in sociology of religion overlap with issues that policymakers will have to face in future years in the rapidly changing fields of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. In the conjunction with religious or belief minorities, the value alignment problem as well as challenges raised by Big Data both constitute key elements of the explanatory process. This convergence underline the importance of a multidisciplinary and critical approach to religion for social, political and technological development of trustworthy AI.