Robert P. Jones is the founding CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). His new book, “The End of White Christian America,” has been called “quite possibly the most illuminating text for this election year.”
Today, young adults ages 18 to 29 are less than half as likely to be white Christians as seniors age 65 and older. Nearly 7 in 10 American seniors (67 percent) are white Christians, compared to fewer than 3 in 10 (29 percent) young adults.
Although the declining proportion of white Christians is due in part to large-scale demographic shifts — including immigration patterns and differential birth rates — this chart also highlights the other major cause: young adults’ rejection of organized religion. Young adults are three times as likely as seniors to claim no religious affiliation (34 percent versus 11 percent, respectively).
This subject is of course one of my all time favorites, and I have covered the demise of religion around the world for many years now.
In fact when I started The Immoral Minority I always hoped that I would someday have the opportunity to write the obituary for American Christianity.
I seriously doubt I will hang in there long enough to see that day, but at least I can document our shifting away from religion and toward enlightenment, and that's good too.
However a troubling bit of data in this book is the following:
The rising number of religiously unaffiliated Americans has more to do with people being less likely to claim a formal connection with organized religion than it does with widespread doubts about the existence of God. While there has been an uptick in the number of Americans who identify as atheist or agnostic, this has not been the main driver of growth of the religiously unaffiliated.
Many unaffiliated Americans, for example, still believe in God, even as they are happily unconnected to any church and show little interest in seeking out institutionalized religion.
I find that somewhat less than satisfying as I would of course prefer that the religiously unaffiliated to be made up more from those who reject the idea of a supreme being altogether rather than to be made up of those who no longer find organized religion palatable.
Don't get me wrong, I am still pleased that fewer Americans will find themselves manipulated by men standing behind the pulpit, however continuing to have blind faith in superstitious nonsense still leaves people vulnerable.
Oh well, as I always say, baby steps.