Pew’s new report—which surveyed 35,071 people in 2014, and encompasses the second half of findings released in May—can be juxtaposed with the group’s similarly sized 2007 study on the same topic. Americans who are “absolutely certain” in God’s existence have decreased by eight percentage points in the intervening time. Religiously unaffiliated people now make up 23% of the adult population, compared to 16%; even among the pious, regular service attendance is faltering.
When sorted by generation, the contrasts get even starker. Younger Americans, by some measures, are almost twice as likely to be uninterested in religion as their parents and grandparents. For instance: only 27% of millennials attend weekly religious services, versus 51% of adults in the Silent Generation (those aged 70 to 87). Emphasis on the importance of religion is also lagging.
The wide difference in generational religious interest is explained in part by people’s tendency to care more about religion as they age—a caveat Pew has carefully noted. But even so, the research group finds that younger people nowadays aren’t showing the same increase in religious fervor when they get older as past generations did.
“As older cohorts of adults … pass away, they are being replaced by a new cohort of young adults who display far lower levels of attachment to organized religion than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations did when they were the same age,” wrote the authors of the report.
As I have mentioned before, I have been here all along, unshackled by fear, prejudice, and superstition, just waiting for everybody else to finally join me.
And increasingly they have been doing exactly that.