Date of Graduation

Spring 2022


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer


Much of recent scholarship on the nones and the spiritual but not religious attempts to understand them through the concept of authority. Often scholars argue that authority has left traditional American religious institutions and that the nones are self-authorized in terms of religion. Scholars often make these claims without considering what self-authorization means. This thesis shows that attributing authority to the self is problematic and aims to provide another lens through which to view the nones. The better approach is to view the nones as experts rather than authorities. Thus, this thesis argues that the nones are religious experts. Furthermore, the thesis argues that the nones have a claim to religious expertise equal to that of institutional religious experts.


sociology of religion, sociology of professions, social theory, religious nones, spiritual but not religious, secularization, individualism

Subject Categories

Regional Sociology | Sociology of Religion


© Riley CT Brown

Open Access