Religion Slipping Away From Millennial Generation

A major academic study into millennials and religion is gaining attention for its conclusion that the generation born in this century appears to be the least religious generation of the last six decades, and possibly in the nation's history. “Survey results from 11.2 million American adolescents demonstrate a decline in religious orientation, especially after 2000. The trend appears among adolescents as young as 13 and suggests that Millennials are markedly less religious than Boomers and GenX’ers were at the same age. The majority are still religious, but a growing minority seem to embrace secularism, with the changes extending to spirituality and the importance of religion as well.”millenial

The report also indicates that “correlational analyses show that this decline occurred at the same time as increases in individualism and declines in social support. Clearly, this is a time of dramatic change in the religious landscape of the United States.”

The researchers -- including Jean M. Twenge and Ramya Sastry from San Diego State University, Julie J. Exline and Joshua B. Grubbs from Case Western Reserve University and W. Keith Campbell from the University of Georgia -- analyzed data from 11.2 million respondents from four nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents ages 13 to 18 taken between 1966 and 2014.

Recent adolescents are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives, report less approval of religious organizations, and report being less spiritual and spending less time praying or meditating, the researchers point out. The results were published recently in the journal PLOS One.faith_589

Compared to the late 1970s, twice as many 12th graders and college students never attend religious services, and 75 percent more 12th graders say religion is "not important at all" in their lives. Compared to the early 1980s, twice as many high school seniors and three times as many college students in the 2010s answered "none" when asked their religion.

Compared to the 1990s, 20 percent fewer college students described themselves as above average in spirituality, suggesting that religion has not been replaced with spirituality.

"Unlike previous studies, ours is able to show that millennials' lower religious involvement is due to cultural change, not to millennials being young and unsettled," said Twenge. "Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenX'ers were at the same age. We also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today's adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all."

The study comes just after research released last month by the Pew Research Center that showed the portion of U.S. population as a whole that's not affiliated with any religion has climbed from around 16 percent in 2007 to nearly 23 percent last year. Christianity's share of the country's population dropped from 78 percenold timet to under 71 percent, according to Pew.

"These trends are part of a larger cultural context, a context that is often missing in polls about religion," Twenge said. "One context is rising individualism in U.S. culture. Individualism puts the self first, which doesn't always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires. As Americans become more individualistic, it makes sense that fewer would commit to religion."sm_people

Twenge and her colleagues looked at four large, nationally representative studies, according to published reports: The annual Monitoring the Future studies of eighth, 10th, and 12th graders, and the American Freshmen survey of entering college students (focusing on the years 1966 through 2014). They compared answers given by each of those groups to those given by members of previous generations at the same age.

The study finds the decline in religiosity is larger among young women, whites, those of lower socioeconomic status, and residents of the Northeast, the publication Public Standard points out. In contrast, this trend is “very small among blacks,” the researchers write, “and nonexistent among political conservatives.”

Percentage of Christians in America, Catholics in Connecticut Drops, New Study Finds

The Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing nationwide, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center.  The drop in the percentage of Catholic residents in Connecticut was the largest among the states, according to the Pew research data, while the percentage of unaffiliated remained steady. In Connecticut, 33 percent of residents are Catholic, 17 percent are Mainline Protestant, 13 percent are Evangelical Protestant, 5 percent area historically Black Protestant, and 3 percent are Jewish.  About one percent of the population in Connecticut are Buddhist, approximately the same percentage as Hindu, Muslim and Mormon, according to the Pew survey, based on 2014 data.   The survey indicated that 23 percent are unaffiliated with a religion.

CT religionWhile the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults nationwide, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men, according to the Pew data.

The major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4 percent in a similarly sized national Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014.

Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7 percent in 2007 to 5.9 percent in 2014.

In Connecticut, the percentage of Catholics dropped from 43 percent in 2007 to 33 percent in 2014. The 10 percentage point drop among Catholics in Connecticut was the largest in the nation.  Massachusetts saw a nine point drop between 2007 and 2014, from 43 percent to 34 percent of that state’s population.118

The percentage of Mainline Protestants (13% to 17%), Evangelical Protestants (9% to 13%), historically Black Protestant (4% to 5%), and Jewish residents (1% to 3%), all increased in Connecticut between 2007 and 2014.  For the first time, the percentage of Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu residents each reached one percent in the 2014 survey.  The percentage of unaffiliated was relatively constant in Connecticut, increasing from 22 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2014, as the national percentage grew from 16 percent to 23 percent, matching the Connecticut percentage.

Even as their numbers decline, American Christians – like the U.S. population as a whole – are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.  Religious intermarriage also appears to be on the rise: Among Americans who have gotten married since 2010, nearly four-in-ten (39%) report that they are in religiously mixed marriages, compared with 19% among those who got married before 1960, the Pew analysis pointed out.

Because the U.S. census does not ask Americans about their religion, there are no official government statistics on the religious composition of the U.S. public, Pew noted. The most recent Religious Landscape Study was designed to obtain a minimum of 300 interviews with respondents in each state and the District of Columbia.


Connecticut, New England Have Lowest Church Attendance, Survey Says

Connecticut residents rank #41 in the nation in regular church attendance, according to a new survey.  The state had plenty of company from New England neighbors at the bottom of the list.  The bottom four slots were occupied by New England states – Vermont at #50, New Hampshire at #49, Maine at #48 and Massachusetts at #47. Rhode Island ranked at #34. In the survey by the Gallup organization throughout 2014, slightly more than half of Utah residents say they attend religious services every week, more than any other state in the union. Residents in the four Southern states of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas are the next most likely to be frequent church attendees, with 45 percent to 47 percent reporting weekly attendance.framed church Lee, MA

At the other end of the spectrum is Vermont, where 17 percent of residents say they attend religious services every week.  In Connecticut, 25 percent say they attend religious services weekly.  In addition, 19 percent say they attend nearly weekly or monthly, and 54 percent say they seldom or never attend religious services.

The results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews throughout 2014 with 177,030 U.S. adults, and reflect those who say "at least once a week" when asked, "How often do you attend church, synagogue or mosque -- at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never?"

Church attendance self-reports are estimates, Gallup notes, and “may not reflect precise week in and week out attendance, but provide an important measure of the way in which Americans view their personal, underlying religiosity.”

Gallup concludes that “within the U.S. there religious services mapare stark geographic differences in religiosity. In some states of the union -- Utah and Southern states -- roughly half of residents report attending religious services weekly, while in others -- mostly in the Northeast and the West -- a fourth or less of residents attend weekly.”

Ten of the 12 states with the highest self-reported religious service attendance are in the South, along with Utah and Oklahoma, according to the Gallup survey. “The strong religious culture in the South reflects a variety of factors, including history, cultural norms and the fact that these states have high Protestant and black populations -- both of which are above average in their self-reported religious service attendance,” Gallup noted in an analysis of the data.zonvslpedusjhk_03s9f8g

Utah's No. 1 position on the list, Gallup indicated, “is a direct result of that state's 59% Mormon population, as Mormons have the highest religious service attendance of any major religious group in the U.S.”

In Vermont, 71 percent of respondents indicated they “seldom or never” go to religious services.  That percentage was 65 percent in Maine, 63 percent in New Hampshire, 59 percent in Massachusetts, 54 percent in Connecticut and 53 percent in Rhode Island.