There are more atheists and agnostics entering Harvard than Protestants and Catholics

Sep 15, 2015

Ed Brodzinsky

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey

How religious are America’s best and brightest? A Harvard Crimson poll of the university’s class of 2019 provides a glimpse into the beliefs and practices of incoming freshman, including sex, politics and drug use. Some of the interesting findings included the religious breakdown, especially when compared to other millennials in the U.S.

Harvard’s combined number of atheists and agnostics among its incoming class exceeds the number of Catholics and Protestants, as Pew Research Center’s Conrad Hackett noted. The number appears to be a striking contrast with the rest of the U.S. millennial population, those from ages 18 to 34.

Pew’s survey suggested a decline in Christianity in the U.S., especially among millennials, though Harvard’s freshman still don’t appear to reflect the rest of millennials in the U.S.

Among the general population in the U.S., 52 percent of millennials identify as Protestant or Catholic, according to Pew, compared to 34.1 percent of Harvard’s incoming class. And 13 percent of millennial Americans identify as atheist or agnostic, compared with 37.9 percent of Harvard freshmen who said they were atheist or agnostic.

Part of the reason why American Christianity is on the decline is due to the number of people who don’t self-identify with a religion anymore. Pew also asks survey respondents if they are unaffiliated with faith, and 36 percent of them describe themselves as not affiliated with religion.


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3 comments on “There are more atheists and agnostics entering Harvard than Protestants and Catholics

  • “I have a dream, I have dream that every American will be looked upon as equal”

    I am impressed with the young. They don’t seem to be buying religion hook and sinker.
    We just need them to vote in the mid-term.



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  • @OP – Among the general population in the U.S., 52 percent of millennials identify as Protestant or Catholic, according to Pew, compared to 34.1 percent of Harvard’s incoming class. And 13 percent of millennial Americans identify as atheist or agnostic, compared with 37.9 percent of Harvard freshmen who said they were atheist or agnostic.

    It should be no surprise, that where intellectual, critical thinking capability is measured and valued, the effects of the irrational faith-thinking disability, are reflected in the statistics!



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