I work for the Church and I've seen the term "nones" used to describe those who are non-Christian or those who are considered "spiritual, but not religious." I find the term belittling. What's the origin of the term? Is it from "none of the above"? Is there a better term out there?

  • I guess it's a play on "nuns", and it's pronounced the same way. However, "ones" for "not nuns" would be better. Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:45
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    I suspect, rather, that it refers to survey responses and designates those who when offered a choice of religious affiliations in a questionnaire check "None". Commented Mar 26, 2013 at 23:48
  • Spiritual and not Christian, or just non-believers altogether? I think 'none of the above' would mean not Christian, not Islamic, not Hindu, etc, etc, etc.
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


This term has lately been used by reputable survey groups such as Pew to refer to people who self-identify as "none of the above" on religious surveys. It has been popularized recently by NPR and other news sources reporting on the upsurge of "nones" in the population. I have also heard it used from the pulpit. I have never heard it used pejoratively.

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