Poll Finds Americans, Especially Millennials, Moving Away From Religion

Nov 3, 2015

Religion is apparently weakening in America. A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that the percentage of Americans who say they believe in God, pray daily and attend church regularly is declining.

Among the findings:

  • The share of Americans who say they are “absolutely certain” that God exists has dropped 8 percentage points, from 71 percent to 63 percent, since 2007, when the last comparable study was made.
  • The percentage of adults who describe themselves as “religiously affiliated” has shrunk 6 points since 2007, from 83 percent to 77 percent.
  • The shares of the U.S. adult population who consider religion “very important” to them, pray daily and attend services at least once a month have declined between 3 and 4 percentage points over the past eight years.

The shift is small but statistically significant, according to the authors, given that the changes have taken place in a relatively short period of time, and the survey sample is large enough (about 35,000 U.S. adults) to be considered reliable.

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Skepticism about religion is especially evident among young people. The Pew study found that barely a quarter of “millennials” (born between 1981 and 1996) attend church services on a weekly basis, compared with more than half of U.S. adults born before 1946. Only about 4 in 10 millennials say religion is important in their lives, compared with more than half of those who are older, including two-thirds of those born before 1946.

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37 comments on “Poll Finds Americans, Especially Millennials, Moving Away From Religion

  • Poll Finds Americans, Especially Millennials, Moving Away From Religion

    There was another study showing a enormous number ( above 25% ) of these millennials still living at home with their parents. I wonder how that works out as to religious conflict between the generations!

    Any millennials on here that can enlighten us on this subject?

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  • I can’t speak for the millennials but having raised 3 of them in a fundamentalist household, 2 of the 3 have shed the “faith” and are happy, content and productive secularists. Although I de-converted around the same time as them, I kept it private so as to not unduly influence them.

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  • I can’t speakdirectly for millennials either but I have a UK friend and she told me there is a large difference there. The parent automatically classifies the millinniel as an Anglican or Catholic child depending on the parent’s affiliation but it bears almost no relationship to actual millennials religious belief.

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  • I’m a long time atheist. My religious BS alarm first went off in 1957 which resulted in me getting kicked out of vacation bible school. I though this decline in religious belief in the US would start in the late sixties and the myth of religion would be effectively gone by the millennia. I was sure wrong. 🙁 I am very happy to see this decline in religious belief among millennials but it is still small so I’ll wait a few years to see if this positive trend continues.

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  • It is amazing the figures are still so high. People can’t literally isolate themselves, but they are able to blot out everything that contracts childhood brainwashing. If you extrapolate these figures, they should accelerate as the peer pressure effect kicks in, and and these people’s children who never were brainwashed grow up.

    It may seem painfully slow, but compare it with how long it took Christianity to spread.

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  • I agree it’s very slow but I think there’s a tipping point yet to be reached.

    still got a lot of baby-boomers in power, political and social, but their time’s coming soon. add to that the fact that as people leave religion, what they leave behind get’s smaller but noisier and nastier and more irrational. Social media shines a light on this for everyone, we no longer have to “ridicule” religion because we can’t do nearly as good a job as those who are churning out internet memes reminding us all exactly how batshit crazy their beliefs are becoming. I’d say to the point that if you took some of this material back to the dark ages many of the most devout believers would chuckle.

    The current figures may need to be revised in future to reflect the fact that most of us who went from religious to atheist, failed to note the moment it happened. It’s not just the brainwashing, it’s the fact many young people hold on to religion because the parents the do it for aren’t quite mature enough for the truth

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  • SaganTheCat
    Nov 4, 2015 at 8:54 am

    The current figures may need to be revised in future to reflect the fact that most of us who went from religious to atheist, failed to note the moment it happened. It’s not just the brainwashing, it’s the fact many young people hold on to religion because the parents the do it for aren’t quite mature enough for the truth

    We should also remember that most god-delusions are vindictive little demons, who will use any position of hosted (parental, employer, political) power, to abuse dissenters who will not offer homes/ thrones to cloned god-delusions in their brains!

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  • Modernisation, with its accompanying industrial, scientific and social revolutions, is gradually blowing away the millennia old intellectual fog of religion, allowing humanity to adopt a more progressive, secular approach to the world. However, I doubt very much that it will disappear entirely, it’s just too useful to the state. Just look at Russia and the rehabilitation of the Eastern Orthodox Church, bolstering, as it always, the Russian state.

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  • Self realized positions (no external influence) are intellectually more powerful and permanently lasting. I have two millennials children who grew up unimpeded by religious beliefs. This may be easier to do in Canada as religion does not have the same emotional stronghold and business influence as is seen in the US. Both are engineers with strong beliefs in science and are also well educated on all religions. They have both come to the same conclusion that in most cases, the more religious one purports to be the less likely he or she is to have read their main book of beliefs, bible…etc.

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  • 12
    NoKiddingMan says:

    I was born in a very religious (Islamic) environment. I am very proud because I shook off the nonsensical religious beliefs (and F* Allah/God) when I was a teen. I am so proud, I am so happy, and I am so disgusted that religion is still harming people in 21st century.


    I can trust much more easily an atheist/rationalist who demonstrates intellectual integrity than a believer in the supernatural, who lies in every single debate with a rationalist.

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  • This reminds me of the situation that we are living now in Italy, where I live. The young generations are less willing to accept and attend the religion hours at school, especially in the North and indeed the number of student has dropped considerably. This gives me hope for the future even considering that the South has maintained its percentage without any significant variation. Perhaps we are observing the results of the skepticism of the new generation of parents that, unlike the previous generation, for the great part considers religion no more than an old tradition. In all of this, religion is still used as a tool against the so-called ‘islamist invasion’, “because we are christians, they are not”: the result is that they are using the same old tradition as a political tool to make pressure upon families.
    Strange mixture of rationalism and ignorance.
    However, the simple fact that the number of indoctrinated children is falling is a good news for us in Italy.
    Hope to live long enough to see a secularist Europe and a secularist America.

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  • 18
    Willow says:

    Sigh, I also hope the rational secularist position takes over in both and Europe and the US. I couldn’t help but see the similarities of the continuation of religious views in southern Italy and the southern US where I live. I look also forward to the time when my religious BS meter off so often when I hear or see some BS religious story reported as hard news.

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  • I see this article (linked from this site), shows the relationship of increased crime running in parallel with increased regional religiosity!

    Think religion makes society less violent? Think again.

    After the earlier scandal of the money laundering by the Vatican Bank, it is therefore no surprise that that there is a close geographical association here:-

    One of Italy’s biggest organised crime trials in years – dubbed Mafia Capital – has opened in Rome, where councillors and gangsters allegedly stole millions of euros of public cash.

    According to prosecutors, mobsters flourished under Rome’s former right-wing mayor Gianni Alemanno.

    It was a Mafia-type network, they say.

    However, the operation was separate from southern Italy’s traditional Mafia activities such as drug-running and extortion, anti-Mafia prosecutor Alfonso Sabella told Reuters news agency.

    Forty-six defendants are on trial in the corruption case, which concerns millions of euros allegedly stolen from city hall. The suspects were arrested last December.

    Gangsters allegedly conspired with local politicians to siphon off funds intended for migrant and refugee centres, and for rubbish collection in Rome and the surrounding Lazio region.

    The politicians on trial include:

    Luca Gramazio, former head of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party on the regional council

    Mirko Coratti, former head of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in the Rome city council

    Andrea Tassone, a PD member and former head of Ostia council near Rome.

    Ex-mayor Gianni Alemanno denies wrongdoing. He is under investigation, but is not involved in this trial.

    The trial will move to a court bunker at Rebibbia prison on the outskirts of Rome after the opening session.

    Last week, the current mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, was forced to resign in an unrelated scandal involving expenses.

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  • If only about 4 in 10 millennials say religion is important in their lives, then in 20-30 years’ time I can see religious observance collapsing in American as it already has here in Europe

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  • 21
    bonnie says:

    Skepticism about religion

    This applies to my two nephews, only they’ve never been religious. They share a house with like-minded friends; all hard working, easy going folk, and ‘good without god’.

    [ Music ] set to LHC findings, for example, stimulates and inspires in lieu. (quantum physics luau, anyone?)

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  • From what I’ve heard from my friends and other local atheists that had to move back home with religious parents or grandparents is that you quite logically keep your head down and mouth shut so you don’t lose access to food/shelter/clothing while actively looking for work that will let you move out and get back to being yourself.

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  • Presumably the fear of death and/or appeal of an afterlife leads many to cling to the idea of a ‘god’ – especially to those people getting older who are feeling more vulnerable. It’s an emotional crutch that many would rather not dispense with, unfortunately.

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  • This continues to look very good.

    We have very short memories. Maybe we need reminding of all the yukky stuff to remember how much we need the good? Come on Americans, Trump, Carson? Fingers down throat. Better out than in.

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  • 30
    Pinball1970 says:

    Religion is declining in the UK as far as the Christian faith is concerned.

    Polls have indicated the importance is on the wane and actual figures in terms of church attendance have and are falling.

    This poll also looks encouraging.

    All good

    Islam is the worry, RD has stated the younger Islamic generation are more strident/stricter that the generations before.

    This is the trend for Europe also in certain countries, Denmark, Sweden, Germany..

    Difficult getting excited about USA Christian millennials realizing its bullshit if their Islamic counter parts in Europe are proliferating and become more hard line.

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  • The trend is in the right direction, just give it time. People born into a societies where religion was a given have to give the habit up — or die off. And for those following, religion plays an ever smaller part, except the examples that scream “Stone Age Thinking!” over their news programs.
    Extremists may still hold captive millions in fear, but they are converting the free world to secularism in far greater numbers.
    Religion will collapse worldwide, but it takes three or four generations to reduce it to ‘crazies-only status’ and we are only into the first or second generation to widely reject it.

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  • Maybe we need reminding of all the yukky stuff to remember how much we
    need the good

    The lift this gives me Phil, I have to disagree (Mildly). We need to get used to the good news. I get embarrassed by my mushiness to good news. My eyes fill at the end of DIY SOS but I want more programs like that rather than the doom and gloom that all the other programs bring. I don’t care how tacky it looks, as if other programs are any less tacky. Bring me more programs that celebrate the good and stop making me feel like there is no hope. Real programs though where people help each other not the Oprah style self celebration.

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  • Phil, your comment reminded me of a wonderful moment when our daughters were about five, and my wife came into the house wearing a brightly coloured summer dress, and as she stepped through the front door one of the girls said, “mummy, when you die, can I have that dress?

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  • Shouldn’t “Not at all” be one of the choices for “How often do you attend religious services?”. They’re essentially lumping together everyone who goes to services a few times a year with those who never attend. These two groups are very distinct in their views towards religion and should be measured separately.

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  • It seems at least in the UK that proselytising adverts are not welcome!

    The Church of England has said it is “disappointed and bewildered” by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer.

    The Church called the decision “plain silly” and warned it could have a “chilling” effect on free speech.

    It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.

    The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of “differing faiths and no faith”.

    The advert features the Christian prayer being recited or sung by a variety of people.

    They include refugees, a grieving son, weightlifters at a gym, a sheep farmer, a gospel choir and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.

    However, the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles British film advertising for the major cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, refused to show the advert because it believed it would risk upsetting or offending audiences.

    In a statement, DCM said it had a policy of not accepting political or religious advertising content in its cinemas.

    It said that “some advertisements – unintentionally or otherwise – could cause offence to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith,” and that “in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally“.

    After all! – there were many who designated their religion as JEDI on their UK census forms, so quite a large proportion of the audience could be offended by having to listen to proselytising when going to a Star-Wars film!

    It will be interesting to see if there are similar moves in the USA!

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