What's your religion? In US, a common reply now is 'None'

Nathalie Charles, even in her mid-teens, felt unwelcome in her Baptist congregation, with its conservative views on immigration, gender and sexuality. So she left. “I just don’t feel like that gelled with my view of what God is and what God can be,” said Charles, an 18-year-old of Haitian descent who identifies as queer and is now a freshman at Princeton University. “It wasn’t a very loving or nurturing environment for someone’s faith.” After leaving her New Jersey church three years ago, she identified as atheist, then agnostic, before embracing a spiritual but not religious life. In her dorm, she blends rituals at an altar, chanting Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu mantras and paying homage to her ancestors as she meditates and prays. The path taken by Charles places her among the religiously unaffiliated -- the fastest-growing group in surveys asking Americans about their religious identity. They describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” According to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, this group — commonly known as the “nones” — now constitutes 29% of American adults. That’s up from 23% in 2016 and 19% in 2011.

Kentucky governor's family ties run deep in storm-hit area

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. — In the desperate hours after the massive storm struck, Andy Beshear took time out from his duties as governor of the hardest-hit state early Saturday to do what a lot of his fellow Kentuckians were doing. Again and again, he made calls to track down his cousin Jenny in Dawson Springs. “There’s a good ending to the story," Beshear, the state's Democratic governor, said at a news conference Monday. “It took me eight hours to get in touch with her, just calling over and over." But his extended family also was among the Kentuckians grieving the loss of life from the storms. The governor said he has an uncle by marriage who lost two cousins who died in Muhlenberg County.

Insider Q&A: Elf On Shelf Co-CEO Christa Pitts

It all began with an elf named Fisbee. In the 1970s, when her three children were growing up, Carol Aebersold would place her childhood toy Fisbee in a new spot each day leading up to Christmas. The family lore was that Fisbee was watching over them, ready to report to Santa if the children were naughty or nice. In 2004, Aebersold’s daughter Chanda Bell suggested turning the family story into a book that would be sold with a toy elf. After struggling to find a publisher, the family drained their savings and printed “The Elf on the Shelf” themselves. Aebersold’s other daughter, Christa Pitts, left a job at QVC to help with marketing; by the end of 2005, they had sold their first 5,000 copies. Since then, more than 19 million people worldwide have bought “The Elf on the Shelf.”

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