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Chris Stedman ’08 Talks Religious “Nones” With MPR

MPR News logoOn March 5, Chris Stedman ’08 joined Minnesota Public Radio to talk about religious “nones”—people who check the “none” box when asked about their religious affiliation. Stedman, who teaches in Augsburg’s Department of Religion and Philosophy, is working on a book that explores the cultural forces behind the rise in “nones.” His conversation with Cathy Wurzer was part of a new Minnesota Now series called “Faith in Minnesota.”

“I don’t think it’s that religion is going away,” Stedman said. “Rather I think there are these cultural forces that are pushing people out of religious institutions and institutions more broadly, as you say, things like consumerism that pushes us to think of ourselves as individual consumers rather than part of this larger whole, things like increasingly precarious employment, which makes it harder to participate regularly in things and makes us feel like religion or spirituality is something we have to do on our own time fitted in between all our other commitments and obligations if we have time to think about it at all.

“So to me, if people are worried about the decline of religious affiliation or participation, the biggest thing they can do honestly is to work toward a more equitable and just world where people have more time to consider life’s big questions, to get engaged with the world around them, and connect and participate and belong. And this is why I love teaching this religion class I teach at Augsburg because my main goal there is simply to help carve out space in my student’s busy, demanding lives to reflect on what matters to them and why and on their responsibility to the world around them, all the kinds of questions that religion at its best puts before people.”

Listen to the complete interview via MPR: “Faith in Minnesota: who are religious ‘nones’?”

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