Religion has, as its main motivation, the fear of death. There are other reasons for religion such as the transference of respect of and belief in one’s parents ability to protect you, care for you, to an even more magnificent and powerful “parent” after childhood. Fear, however, of death, and the desire to be immortal, are the mainstays of religion.
Many people within the faith, however, are no longer of it. Again, the motivation for silence, and at least feigned devotion of a deity, is fear. Fear of what others might think. Fear of the repercussions of rejection of belief. Some of these “In the faith but not of it” may talk to fellow attendees of their church and not even realize they are talking to a fellow, non-believer.
Fear of rejection by friends, family, and the public in general has kept people en masse from publicly voicing their lack of belief in a supernatural deity. Agnostics sit happily on the fence, afraid to declare atheism, because the faithful over the years have been extremely successful in stigmatizing the label.
Others, in an effort to distance themselves from the mainstream religions, yet not draw the ire of the faithful, label themselves in ways so as not to offend. Many even invent their own brand of belief, with one sole follower, themselves.
There is a group that is growing, a group that atheists, agnostics, and other ‘labeled’ non-belief systems are at once a part, but also separate from:
the Nones. There is a growing segment of ‘nones’ that spurn all labels. They do not profess faith, yet they declare they are not atheists. Though many accept or at least do not resist the label ‘secular’, they accept no other denotation. These people conduct themselves in a secular fashion in all of their daily dealings, proclaiming no faith, and accepting no labels.
Why would these people reject the label atheist? Again, I assert it is because they are afraid. They are afraid of the backlash from wearing the label ‘atheist’. They are afraid of losing friends and being rejected from family. As a result, they assume a position which they think is less threatening to religion, one which might be considered neutral.
Unfortunately, even though these ‘nones’ may desire to simply be neutral, they are forgetting that religion has no gray areas, only black and white, on or off, ‘for us or against us’. The devout look upon these ‘nones’ as undeclared atheists. They do not harass them because the ‘nones’ do not affiliate themselves with power-blocks, groups, which might stand up for non-believers rights. They, the religious, look upon the ‘nones’ as they do the general population, to a degree. They see them as simply wayward children, needing proselytization. Having only black and white horizons, these devout may see the ‘nones’ as off, but not having declared as off. Atheists, on the other hand, have made such a declaration, even to the point of telling the believer that their deity is imaginary.
‘Nones’ are walking a tightrope, even more so than agnostics. Resolutely, they are attempting to align themselves with no one. Distancing themselves from those who actively pursue the right to believe as they wish, they render themselves inert to the cause of unbelief. Like the non-unionized worker, who refuses to join a union and promote worker’s rights, the ‘none’ allows the declared non-believer do all the work that is involved in fighting for the rights of non-believers. They want the rights, but refuse to dirty their hands by doing the work. About the only good they are to the cause is that they present a face of neutrality to religion, which may someday, hopefully, become the norm. Otherwise, they are dead weight, and nearly as bad as accommodationists.