New Thought and the “none-ing” Phenomenon

A Secularization or Re-Sacralization Process?


  • Philippe Murillo Université de Toulouse



Nones, unaffiliated believers, no religion, New Thought, NRM, metaphysics, spirituality, sacralization, secularization, liminal


The concept of secularization, coined in the 1960s, is at the heart of the debate as to whether new religious movements (NRMs), such as New Thought, are part of a possible re-enchantment or re-sacralization process where the “no religion” or “nones” category plays a significant role. In the studies of scholars such as Bryan Wilson, David Martin, Steve Bruce, Rodney Stark or Peter Berger, the theory of secularization has long been disputed to prove either the decline of religion or the extinction of it. Nevertheless, in the last three decades these scholars have agreed on the fact that secularization is no longer an appropriate concept to describe the evolution of religious beliefs within society. According to all specialists and research studies, “nones” are everywhere in the religious landscape (Pew Research Centre 2012), but has this always been the case? To consider this perspective, I will use the example of the New Thought movement, the American metaphysical new religious movement dating back to the early nineteenth century, which has been part of the shaping of national identity, both as a model of pluralism and a part of spiritual and political dynamism. Are New Thought members the archetypes of the “none” population and of the “none-ing” process phenomenon? This question raises the problem of the religious identification process and its importance in the spiritual and religious landscape of the United States and elsewhere across the world. It directly impacts the debate on the sacralization/secularization process by inviting a novel approach to the explanation of the “none” cohort by querying its role and whether we should look to its “liminal” aspect.


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How to Cite

Murillo, P. (2022). New Thought and the “none-ing” Phenomenon: A Secularization or Re-Sacralization Process?. International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 11(2), 203–234.