Elizabeth Drescher, PhD

Choosing Our Religion

51OXV333deL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgQuotes from and praise for Choosing Our Religion

“The spiritualities of Nones are hardly distinct or isolated from the spiritualities of Somes with whom they share much of their everyday lives, including experiences and practices that both the affiliated and the unaffiliated alike would mark as ‘spirituality significant.'”

“If it is the case that some trace of institutional religious identity lingers within many Nones, so, too, a free-floating cultural ‘Noneness’ infuses the spirituality of many of the affiliated.”

“We can see from the data that, far from being a fringe phenomenon among the ‘unchurched’ in overeducated, latte-slinging corridors of the country, unaffiliation is part of the religious and spiritual structure of every social sector.”


Wade Clark Roof

“The ‘Nones’-the religiously unaffiliated-popped into public consciousness a decade ago, and have attracted attention ever since. Yet they remain largely unknown and misunderstood, especially when viewed as indifferent to, if not hostile toward, religion. Drescher’s research focuses not on who they aren’t but on who they are-and she finds them a remarkably diverse and fluid segment of our society, some, of course, negative toward organized religion, but most trying to find meaning in life experience… A good and informative read.” ~Wade Clark Roof, J.F. Rowny Professor of Religion and Society Emeritus, University of California at Santa Barbara

“However much academic researchers and mainstream media writers may like to corral them into group-like classifications, the unaffiliated resist such herding not only as a matter of demographic correctness but also as a matter of spiritual identity and practice.”

“Embracing the very noneness of Nones is critical for those attempting to understand the spiritual lives of the unaffiliated and an important starting point for understanding how American religion and spirituality are changing in general.”

“…claiming the status of “None” allowed them to strategically obscure or reveal their religious perspectives and practices within the context of different relationships and social settings.”


The Rev. Keith Anderson

“As a parish pastor, this book has been invaluable in understanding how to better understand people beyond and within my congregation, connect with how they make meaning, and support them in their spiritual lives. This is by far, for me, the best book on the subject of the Nones.” ~The Rev. Keith Anderson, author of The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (2015)

“Often [the word] ‘religion’ failed for Nones not only because it was seen as dull, formulaic, rule-bound, or corrupt, but because it tended to overwrite self-identity in ways that seemed to compromise personal integrity and authenticity.”

“Ultimately, for most Nones the unaffiliated spiritual life is not defined by what may have been left behind, but rather by what was found.”


Mary Hess

“This book is a … significant contribution. Ranging widely across a variety of literatures (anthropology, cultural studies, sociology, media studies, congregational studies, theology and so on) Drescher has put together a stunning reframing of the experiences of people who claim no religious affiliation. … Drescher’s exploration of the ways in which prayer is experienced, or her discussion of how an ethics of care emerges among Nones, will both be sections I will draw upon in my classes. I’m also certain that her ‘four Fs of contemporary American spirituality – Family, Fido, Friends and Food’ will prove to be an enduring meme within my classes. I highly recommend this book.” ~Mary Hess, Professor of Educational Leadership at Luther Seminary


“…in digitally integrated culture, where proximity to many others with different perspectives and life situations is a regular occurrence, unaffiliation can also be seen as an expression of what we might call a ‘strategic cosmopolitanism’ in which differences are not muted directly, but rather are allowed to ‘float by’ without making any claim on the attention of others or generating conflict.”

“Nones from marginally religious backgrounds have not…so much drifted into noneness as they have attached a culturally current label for their unaffiliation to fluid spiritualities that have evolved throughout their lives.”

“…the spiritual lives of Nones, as they themselves articulate their understandings of them, are oriented primarily around interpersonal relationships in which intimacy, trust, and personal authenticity are experienced to a heightened degree.”


Hemant Mehta

“Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need God to have a moral compass. It may sound like a contradiction, but secular spirituality is alive and thriving. Dr. Elizabeth Drescher explores this topic in tremendous depth in Choosing Our Religion. In doing so, she shines a light on a kind of thinking many religious people don’t want to admit exists. We always knew some people consider themselves ‘spiritual but not religious.’ Now we see that Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists don’t have spiritually empty lives. Thanks to Drescher, we have a better idea of what that spirituality looks like.” ~Hemant Mehta, TheFriendlyAtheist.com

“Those who shared their stories with me located their spirituality in everyday encounters with spouses, partners, children, siblings, friends, coworkers, and perfect strangers, these relationships taking homes, offices, parks, gardens, and other ordinary locales—even the lowly DMV—as sites in which the spiritual unfolded.”

“…the ‘whatever-ness’ of unaffiliated spirituality may be … due to a lack of language specific to extra-institutional practice. But when Nones feel they have permission to utilize this lexicon, the result extends the boundaries of the sacred well beyond religious locations, deep into the contours of everyday life, including non-religious life.”

“For Nones, calling something ‘prayer’ distinguishes the spiritual from the ordinary, but it also can mark the emergence of the spiritual within the ordinary.”


Leigh Eric Schmidt

“As the rate of religious disaffiliation nears 25% of the American population, the importance of understanding the ‘Nones’-from roving seekers to settled nonbelievers-has risen correspondingly. Drescher offers a splendidly variegated account of the religious practices and engagements that continue to flourish among the unaffiliated. The spiritual voices of the ‘Nones’ emerge with unusual clarity and resonance in these pages.” ~Leigh E. Schmidt, author of Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality

“The appeal of Jesus to Nones has nothing to do with the institution developed by his followers, but rather with his willingness to walk across religious and other social boundaries, through the lives of ordinary people, attending to their suffering, healing their afflictions, welcoming them into conversation, and sharing stories of hope.”

“To decide that you no longer need to have a particular spiritual or moral teaching regularly reinforced in a religious setting, or that you need to learn to think about morality on your own, is not to reject religiously influenced ethics out of hand. Unaffiliation does not entail a 180-degree turn away from conventional moral teachings.”

Jesus was a None.” ~George Brooks, Age 40, Tulsa, Oklahoma, “Jesus Follower/None”

“Religious disillusionment registers as positive moral value for many Nones. … For many of the unaffiliated, however, disillusionment is not a stage in a journey that leads to a new, more mature practice of faith. It is an accomplishment earned through reasoned reflection that opens whole new trails for mature engagement with life. “

“...unaffiliated spirituality is fundamentally relational; that relationality is expressed through the care of others; and this is a valuable ethical and spiritual orientation in an increasingly cosmopolitan, religiously diverse world.







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