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.