The rate at which younger generations are eschewing organized religion is increasing, even from within the millennial generation, according to polls taken by the Pew Research Center.
Younger millennials, born 1990-1996, declare themselves religiously unaffiliated 36 percent of the time, while older millennials, born 1981-1989, do so just 34 percent of the time. That small difference, however, reflects a much larger one in the American population as a whole.
“The 35 percent of millennials who do not identify with a religion is double the share of unaffiliated baby boomers (17 percent) and more than three times the share of members of the Silent Generation (11 percent).”
“Religious ‘nones’ — a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is ‘nothing in particular’ — now make up roughly 23 percent of the U.S. adult population.”
And while some millennials do seek out organized religion, or move from one religion to the next, they are in the minority. For every one person who places their belief within the context of a specific religion, four others move in the opposite direction, declaring themselves “religiously unaffiliated.”
Still, atheists and agnostics make up the smallest percentage of these unaffiliated millennials, although that number is also growing. Overall, atheists and agnostics make up 7 percent of the US adult population, up from 4 percent in 2007.
“Religious ‘nones’ — a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is ‘nothing in particular’ — now make up roughly 23 percent of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16 percent of Americans were ‘nones.'”
Paul Taylor, author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown, explains what makes millennials a “very distinctive” generation.