Millennial generation less likely to claim religion, study finds

The millennials — those born after 1980 who began to reach adulthood around the year 2000 — are less likely to claim a religion than their parents and grandparents were at the same age, a new report says.

The Pew Research Center report released this week on millennials and faith found that one in four, or 25 percent, do not identify with a denomination or faith. They describe themselves as either atheistic, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

Among Generation X, whose younger members were young adults in the late 1990s, one in five, or 20 percent, were unaffiliated.

For baby boomers, who were young adults in the late 1970s, that figure was about one in eight, or 13 percent.

Older Americans are more religious, according to the report, which is based on several sources of data, including surveys commissioned by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The report states that 85 percent of Americans now 30 and older affiliate with a faith — 14 percent say they are unaffiliated and 1 percent weren’t sure.

Millennials who are affiliated attend religious services less often than their elders — 33 percent attend weekly compared with 41 percent of adults 30 and older, the Pew report notes. And millennials are far less likely — 45 percent — to say religion is “very important in their lives,” compared with almost 60 percent of their elders.

Nondenominational Christian Pastor Sarah Bowling, herself a Gen-Xer, said she observed firsthand the millennials’ diminished trust and investment in all institutions, including religion, when she ran the ministry for 18- to 25-year-olds at Orchard Road Christian Center in Greenwood Village.

“I love that age. I love the way they think, the way they question,” Bowling said. “They have so many epiphany moments.”

Yet, she said, their commitment to church was often short-lived.

“They would get excited about it but not maintain the interest,” Bowling said. “They would move on to the next exciting thing. The word ‘duty’ was real anathema to them.”

Yet in many other ways, the 20-somethings are as traditional in religious beliefs and practices as older Americans, the report concludes. About 64 percent say they are absolutely certain of God’s existence, compared with 73 percent of their elders.

Millennials are as likely to believe in life after death (75 percent of them versus 74 percent of the 30-plus). The millennials are as likely to believe in heaven (74 percent each group) and in miracles (78 percent, compared with 79 percent).

And there is one thing in which the millennials’ belief is stronger: About 62 percent believe in hell, compared with 59 percent of older Americans.

That might be one reason why millennials pray more often — 45 percent pray daily, compared with 41 percent of baby boomers and 40 percent of Gen-Xers when they were in their 20s.

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It shows both an individualist as well as self-centered mentality. People only want God when it suits them. Many believe in heaven for themselves but they wish for a hell for the people they dont like to go. People want to enjoy the pleasures of life and never encounter any suffering while at the same time demanding that God demand nothing from at all and for him to give them eternal life. The attitude I see a lot is that if God exists and loves people he wont condemn them to hell. They neglect to understand that heaven is a gift and not an entitlement.

These statistics are from the United States. From my experience, Britain has a more ingrained hook-up culture form top to bottom and the belief and attendance levels are even lower. I would imagine though that the polls in Britain would not show such a high amount believing in heaven and hell. This is because there is a civil religion in the US that preaches sin, repentance and forgiveness. It is why people in this country feel shame for doing things that in Britain there would be no feelings of shame, even amongst non-religious. I think on the European continent, religious belief is even less than in Britain and the United States. I attribute this to both wealth and reliance on a large state structure for survival. In Europe, the state tries to take care of the people to such a degree as to replace God with the state. God cant be called on to solve the problems of society, the state must. The wealth in Europe contributes by giving people money and materials that make them too comfortable with their earthly life and causes them to overindulge and give up their faith when the two conflict. The United States is in the same position though the history of religious awakenings especially the two we have had in the 20th century that give the country a moral and religious overtone that you do not see in Europe. This is something that is ingrained to Americans psyche. The way Americans of all political persuasions are quick to vigorously defend their positions against challenge is indicative of this.

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