Young American adults abandon religion in record numbers

Young American adults abandon religion in record numbers February 8, 2014

The religious landscape is changing drastically in the United States as young adults abandon religion in record numbers.

A recent PRRI survey shows that growing religious differences between seniors, America’s oldest adults, and Millennials, America’s youngest adults, are dramatic.

America the Diverse

The survey shows a significant religious difference separating seniors and Millennials, and the number of each who identify as religiously unaffiliated. Nearly one-third (31%) of Millennials identify as religiously unaffiliated, compared to roughly 1-in-10 (11%) seniors. Millennials (13%) are also about four times more likely than seniors (3%) to identify as atheist or agnostic.

One thing is certain, the religious landscape of the United States is becoming much more diverse, and that diversity is generational. The survey shows that more than 7-in-10 (71%) seniors identify as some type of white Christian, while less than 3-in-10 (28%) of Millennials identify as white Christian.

Good news for secular Americans. The tide is turning.

(H/T Friendly Atheist, Tony Jones)

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  • skyhaskins

    Religiosity increases in Jewish, hispanic and black communities. Hmmmm…

    • colleen2

      In general it isn’t the same sort of religiousity at all. The religious right is using religion to shame, dominate and control. Republican Jesus is really pretty loathsome to women and people of color.

      • skyhaskins

        I was ONLY stating that the percentages for the 18-28 demographic were higher than the 30-49 in Jewish, hispanic and black communities. All others showed a DECREASE in the younger group, the only major inccrease in the 18-29 group being the UNaffiliated with religion group.

    • scurvydog

      Racial trolling concerns aside on this survey, This only shows a sample of what age ranges will admit to on a survey of religious views today. It does not indicate what 18 year olds thought of religion 30 years ago.

      Although in all fairness I seem to see this same survey every few years and everyone seems to say more or less the same thing. Although this one has more of an ethnic spin on it, So that makes me wonder about the biases of the survey takers.

  • Tony G.

    with information and knowledge more accessible, the level of ignorance and superstition drops down. this is great news. i give it till 2100 till the religious are under 10%.

  • Chad Perrault

    Did anyone else notice the lettering of “America” is in the Coca-Cola style? Very subtle, but interesting tie to the diversity of the nation.


    It’s about time!

  • Chad Smith

    A beautiful thing!

  • Franklin Bacon

    Wish there were a comparison with previous generations. 40 years ago, only a small minority of young people I knew felt themselves affiliated with any particular religion. They have grown more religious with age.

    • Lisa

      My experience has been the opposite. Some of my friends were/are religious, because they were raised that way. I don’t know one person who has become religious without indoctrination at a young age. There is plenty of data (easily available online) to support a steady, long term decline in Religiosity for a number of decades.

      • David

        Hi Lisa,
        I’m David. Nice to meet you. Now you can no longer say, “I don’t know one person who has become religious without indoctrination at a young age.”

        • Zack Dolzonek

          I am so sorry for you loss

          • David

            How very Christian of you.

        • TheSquirrel

          Blows to the head definitely don’t count as young age indoctrination.

        • Lisa

          Thanks Christina and David, you made me smile. 🙂 However, I still think you are probably in the minority.

      • Christina Lynn, PhD

        My name is Christina. I was not indoctrinated at a young age. I chose to follow a Christian faith in my 20’s and eventually earned a PhD in religious studies due to being drawn to the phenomenon which is religion. Spirituality and religion is so personal based on upbringing, experience, education, culture, and personal vicissitudes. No two Christians, Muslims, Jews or any other religion can ever see their religion the same way due to the individuality of spirituality. I later left that Christian religion and now follow a more scientific and natural path.

        • Nathan Grant

          As to be expected from anyone with intelligence and that studies religion as a whole. Well done Christina.

  • Kenton Forshee

    Welcome to the information age. This is just the beginning.

  • LOVE IT!

  • Tara Zieminek

    It would be interesting to see the correlation to immigration. (For example, are second or third generation hispanics more likely to become “unaffiliated” than recent immigrants?)

    • the answer to your question is probably yes. i can’t cite you a study, but i am hispanic, and it’s the general trend i’ve seen amongst my peers (i’m 2nd gen)

  • Michael

    Remember that in other surveys, a majority (sometimes around 70%) of the religiously “unaffiliated” have religious belief (e.g. in God, an afterlife, etc.) or even consider themselves members of a specific tradition (e.g., Evangelical Christianity) but deny the “religious” label. There’s even a significant movement among evangelicals that affirms that Christianity and “religion” are mutually contradictory!

    • Nathan Grant

      Theres a pretty large number of people who answered that they are religious when they are in fact not…I know because I was one of them for a long time…Also…Christianity is a religion – it can’t contradict religion which just means belief in a higher power.

      • Michael

        By your definition. These people define “religion” as meaningless, often hypocritical ceremony contrary to the gospel Jesus taught (case in point: that “Why Jesus Hates Religion” spoken word video that went viral about a year ago).

  • xlntech1

    This is meaningless unless it also shows how many of the younger people maintain their non-theistic beliefs later in life. We would also need to know what the change is from year to year – are more 18-29 yr olds claiming a secular lifestyle than before etc. Otherwise it’s pretty well established that younger people tend to be less religious than older.

  • Jimmy O. Jonhson

    I do not care what you believe in. Just stay the fuck out of my way.

  • sk

    They are rejecting the church and religion, not faith and God.
    And they have good reason. many churches are really just in the visit of trying to sustain a conservative social / secular culture. They think they are on God’s agenda, but if you actually read the Bible they are. Less rigid and less dualistic faiths systems such as Buddhism are far more appealing with good reason.

    The church today stands for judgment, exclusion, punishment, oppression and hate.

    • TheSquirrel

      Speaking of less rigid and less dualistic belief systems, atheism is also on the rise, especially among the emerging generation. It’s true that the “unaffiliated” category does not mean atheist/agnostic, it also includes those without any denominational affiliation. I see both of these movements as positive.

  • scurvydog

    White Christian, Hispanic Christian…Am I the only one to be spooked every time I find a race line along a religious line in a survey?

    • TheSquirrel

      Generally speaking, at least in the USA, there is a significant
      enough difference in the beliefs and practices of Hispanics and Whites
      that they really do qualify for different denominations.

      • you’d be surprised how little that difference is.

    • theclearvoice

      Don’t worry about it. Haven’t we had that in Ireland for a long time

  • LyndaLBD

    I divorced myself from “The Church” because I was so disappointed by their actions…especially when in America, White Rich Christians are destroying everything the people have built in the past. I am Wiccan…and proud!

  • jks

    Incredible how Eropean-like America is becoming socioeconomically, including religion.

  • the tide is turning?! you can’t explain that!

  • sera

    oh lets break them up by the color of their skin as well. this is why people are growing up to realise that nothing good has come from religion. it spreads more anger and hate than anything else.

  • D. Kiiskila

    That graphic is racist. What does being black, white, or hispanic have to do with religion, other than to further stereotype people and divide them into groups you can pit against each other for political gain?