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Religious Socialization and Millennial Involvement in Organized and Digital Nonbelief Activities

Feb 18, 2020

By Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme and Joel Thiessen

Abstract

Drawing on a representative survey sample of just over 2,500 young adult respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 from across the USA and Canada, our study seeks to understand who exactly takes part in organized and digital nonbelief activities. Our findings show that (a) there is a positive association between religious childhood socialization and the likelihood of being involved with organized and digital atheist, humanist and secularist activities among young adult nonbelievers; (b) there is a positive link between involvement in organized and digital nonbelief activities and those who experience discrimination due to their nonbelief, mediating the religious childhood socialization association (subcultural identity theory); and (c) there is a remaining positive direct relationship between religious childhood socialization and involvement in organized and digital nonbelief activities as individuals seek to retain some vestiges of religious life among these nonreligious groups (vestiges of religious life theory). We additionally demonstrate that, while fewer than half of nonbelieving Millennials are involved in organized or digital nonbelief settings, those in the USA are more likely to be involved than in Canada. Moreover, in both nations, those who are involved tend to be more engaged in online settings versus in-person contexts.

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