Here’s a bit a news to brighten your day: The latest Pew Forum on Religion & Public life study finds that religious belief is on the decline among the younger population:
One in four American millennials — which it defined as those who were born after 1980 and came of age around the millennium — are not affiliated with any faith tradition, Pew found. They characterize their religion as “atheist,” “agnostic” or “nothing in particular.”
That compares to fewer than one in five Generation Xers — Americans born from 1965 to 1980 — who were unaffiliated with a religion when they were in their late teens and early 20s.
Just 13 percent of American baby boomers — those born from 1946 to 1964 — were unaffiliated with any religious tradition when they were young adults, according to Pew.
The other bit of good news is that there’s a good chunk of believers who don’t adhere to any particular religious sect or affiliation:
“While growing numbers of people are unaffiliated, it’s not necessarily a sign that they’re committed secularists,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum. “We’re seeing among young people that there are ways of practicing faith and being religious outside of belonging to a religious organization or attending services.”
And while it’s likely some of the so-called millennials will become more religious as they get older, the study predicts that the number of unaffiliated will probably not shrink.
This will no doubt lead to renewed hand-wringing among the hardcore religious folks on the need to “get ’em while they’re young” to try and stave off the increasing number of atheists and agnostics in the coming years.
Cue the Pat Robertsons of the world in 5, 4, 3, 2…