“I’m not religious… But I am spiritual.”
Does this sound familiar? New findings suggest that a growing number of young people consider themselves non-religious. The Pew Research Center released evidence this week from the organization’s Religious Landscape Study, indicating a steady decline in religious belief in the U.S. from 2007 to 2014—the largest percentage among Millennials. Approximately 35,000 Americans who were said to believe in God, pray daily, or go to church regularly were monitored.
And while the number of Americans who identify with a religion remains high in comparison to other developed countries, there is still a noticeable shift—dropping from 83 to 77 percent. More interesting is that the percentage of those who believe with certainty that there really is a God is even lower, hovering around 63 percent. This is down considerably from 71 percent back in 2007.
The cause? It could be any number of factors—from scientific evidence to demystify the creation myth, to swapping out rosaries with mala beads and substituting prayer with meditation, to general disinterest. It remains speculative as of now.
Read more from NBC News:
The percentage of Americans who pray every day, attend religious services regularly and consider religion important in their lives are down by small, but statistically significant measures, the survey found.
The trend is most pronounced among young adults, with only half of those born from 1990 to 1996 absolutely certain of their belief in God, compared to 71 percent of the “silent generation,” or those born from 1928 to 1945.
Younger people also are less likely to pray daily, at 39 percent, compared to “silent generation” adults at 67 percent. Young adults are also much less likely to attend religious services, the survey found.
The survey also found religious divides among the political parties, with those who are not religiously affiliated more likely to be Democrats, at 28 percent, compared to 14 percent of Republicans.
Well… That’s intriguing. It’s worth considering that right wing politics has alienated young people in recent years, with outdated ideals about equality and questionable morality surrounding choice. Is it possible that more young people identify with the left and thus, have opted out of religion as a result?
The Washington Post weighs in on “The God gap”:
Conventional wisdom says that Christian Right organizations, such as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, mobilized religious activists on behalf of the Republican Party.
In reaction to the rising influence of the Christian Right, the story goes, “seculars”—those who do not attend religious services or claim an association with an organized religion—moved to the Democratic Party.
In other words, cycles of religious and secular mobilization and counter-mobilization transformed each party’s activists.
Whatever the case, these findings suggest an overall shift in how our country thinks and ultimately, will operate, because it is the younger generation who are already shaping our future. And regardless of political affiliation, young people are wising up to the fact that maybe there is no one religion to rule them all. Maybe this signifies a wider acceptance of all religions—a shift in consciousness that will put all of us on the path toward greater compassion and real spiritual growth. Isn’t that just what the world needs?
Perhaps what Millennials really are is: The Meditation Generation.
Photo via Unsplash
Andrea Rice is the Practice and Community Editor for Wanderlust Media. She is also a writer and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, mindbodygreen, Yoganonymous, AstroStyle, and several music magazines. Her teaching style is a blend of her love for music and intuitive movement, with emphasis on core strength. You can find her regular classes at Shambhala Yoga in Brooklyn and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.