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Millennials Abandoning Christianity

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Dude, that's the headline I'd put on the new survey of Millennials from the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown's Berkley Center. Like, 80.2 percent of them were raised as some kind of Christian and now just 64.2 percent consider themselves such. That 20 percent decline is largely accounted for by the increase from 11.1 percent to 24.7 percent of the cohort that the survey calls "unaffiliated"--i.e. those who identify with no religion, or Nones. Add a bit over a percentage point increase for both the non-Christians and the "Don't Knows," and you've got the whole picture.

While every Christian grouping experienced some decline, the big losers are the Catholics and the Mainline Protestants, both of which declined by 28 percent. White Catholics dropped 34 percent; Latino Catholics, 21 percent. Indeed, at this point Catholic Millennials are evenly divided between whites and Latinos, at 9 percent each.  

How significant are these findings? Historically,18-24-year-olds have been the least religiously affiliated generational cohort; as they get older and acquire more responsibilities--children especially--they have tended to reconnect with institutional religion. That's what happened with the Baby Boomers. However, as a study to be released next week by my colleagues Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar shows, Gen Xers--the post-Baby Boom generation, are actually less religious now than they were when they were college-aged. And if that pattern holds with the millennials, we're going to see a notable increase increase in the proportion of Nones over the next decade--perhaps to as much as a quarter of the entire American population.

Politically, that bodes very well for the Democrats. In a polity now deeply divided by degree of religious commitment, the Nones are the most Democratic constituency on the spectrum. It's hardly a surprise, then, that in the PRRI-Georgetown survey, 58 percent of Millennials identify or lean Democratic, as opposed to just 39 percent who identify or lean Republican. 

Topics: Faith
Tags: millennials


  1. Ah, the young. I was young once, and no longer a Church goer, until I met an Army Chaplain who greatly impressed me, and later watched the funeral of a child whose believing, grieving parents were a powerful testimony.  Still later I went to work for the R. C. Church. Thus these millenials may yet come home.

    Of course, if our beloved Church would figure out how to handle P. R., things might change. As it is, the Church publishes opinions that are seemingly addressed to the devout members of the Church, who already understand the whole context (or at least some do, says he grinning).

    It would be nice if the Church would figure out the graceful way to say “while we have not forgotten all the moral and justice causes we pursue, at the moment let us address one among all those ...” instead of coming across as single-issue lobbyist. And it would be nice if if they would learn to pursue with vigor avenues to reducing the demand for abortion, such as society taking a loving interest in the pregnant and the young, which does NOT mean abandoning efforts to obtain prohibition. If they would do these things, possibly some number of millenials would return to the Church that has a contest for its views on each issue. The context is for everyone, and that context is not hostile to liberal voices.

  2. I don’t think so.  I was a very religious young man who had the opposite experience.  As I got older and somewhat wiser I examined the bible and the teachings of various religions and found there is no real evidence that there is a god out there.  I think as a religion at least in America the Christian brand is tarnished.  The younger people are coming to realize that in the face of reason and science god is living in an ever vanishing realm.  As we gain knowledge how the universe works we find there really isn’t a need for god anymore.

    This is a trend that is not likely to end.  We are seeing the emergence of a new dawn.

  3. >until I met an Army Chaplain who greatly impressed me, and later watched the funeral of a child whose believing, grieving parents were a powerful testimony.

    I went to the funeral of a baby twin at a Catholic service. When the priest brought up the inevitable: “Why does either commit or allow such things?”...I couldn’t WAIT to hear the answer. The answer boiled down to “I don’t know.” And he added that if he suspected god had “anything to do with” such events, he’d remove the frock and leave the church and never come back. Well, the evidence god has something to do with it is that god is all powerful and all knowing. So, god either caused this child to die, OR realized that the death was imminent, and stood by and did nothing. Can you imagine what would be thought of *me* if I watched a child choke to death, and knew the Heimlich for children, and opted to just let the event unfold without intervening? What sort of personality would be credited toward me if I were that sort that just watched children die, had the power to intervene, but didn’t? His god knew this was happening and stood by passively, or his god orchestrated this child’s death. The fact some parents will continue to worship a god that killed their child, one way or another, is a disgraceful indictment of the power of indoctrination, not an inspiration.

  4. I feel a little late on this comment but never the less feel compelled to share with you all my experience with faith.

    I grew up Atheist.  Deny’d god through my entire life.  used “reason” and science to disprove all who stood in my way.

    I once had a 6 hour long debate with someone that there was no god and that we didn’t need god and that no matter what someone might say there was no changing my mind.

    Prior to that I had witnessed a lot of death in my family the most tragic of which was when my brother ran over and killed my nephew Garrett. Kinda like the last post pointed out.  “How could god, all knowing all powerful, let my nephew be killed in such a disgusting way and be holy and righteous.”

    Hindsight is 20-20

    It is not for our understanding. To know right then what gods plan is. Heck if we knew what he had in store for us most of the time we wouldn’t want to wake up. 

    Remember,  Death is not a punishment especially for a child who hasn’t had the opportunity to know or not know Chirst. As the apostle Paul said. To live is Christ (suffering, hardship, torture, pain) To die is Gain (freedom, see Jesus face to face, Heaven).

    So, I agree with all of your. Organized religion is on it’s way out.  However the thought of not needing God is far from ever going to happen.  We are created with a longing for purpose.  A purpose that only God can truly glorify in us.  God didn’t send his son to die on a cross in one of the most horrific ways to do anything more than prove to us how much He loves us. 

    By the way. God hates religion. Jesus was sent here to bring a new covenant.  And through his blood, his death, and his resurrection and new order was set into place. 

    People ask me every time they get a chance. . . “Why do I believe there is a god?” or “why do you believe in Christ?”  I believe based on personal experiences that give me reason to believe.  I have seen things that you wouldn’t believe outside organized religion that have shown me that He is out there and that He loves us.  Live 2 year in poverty and you will learn a lot about how you can literally have nothing and still some how have purpose and do good in this world in Jesus’ name. 

    If you are curious why I believe what I believe or what my story is email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) - If you have the urge to challenge me to a religious debate. . .  you have picked the wrong dude. you probably know more about religion than I do.  Christianity isn’t about religion which is Churches that focus solely on religion are losing members.  Heck. Jesus himself said that it doesn’t matter if you know every law the bible has or have done this or done that. If you don’t Know Him you will not get into Heaven.

    I will end with this.

    It’s not about religion, it is about relationship.  I don’t go to church because I have to. I do so because I want to experience God’s presence.  And just like a song that recently came out says. . . “Your Presence is heaven to me….” IF you have never experienced God’s presence. You need to.  I go to Church because my Pastor isn’t afraid to talk about the tough issues. I Love Christ with all my heart and though you may deny him every chance you get.  He is still there. Ready to welcome home with open arms. 

    What can I say. There is no such thing as being Really Christian or Kinda Christian.  You either know, or you don’t those who say they grew up religious probably never really knew anyways. Or If you did know. . . you are just being a prodigal son/daughter and you already know your Father loves you and will welcome you home at any time.

    Here is my email again,  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    “Father I pray that you come into my heart, that I may know you and know your purpose for my life. As your word says in James 1:5 Let me have the opportunity to ask and receive your wisdom. I pray that my purpose in you is fulfilled and that I may glorify you. My life is not mine, it never was and never will be no matter how hard I try to fight it.  Let my life be a reflection of Your unending Love. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

  5. That leaves us trying to find a exercise session that only uses one particular or two pieces of equipment at the most, and features a pretty shallow learning curve

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