America Is Becoming Less Religious Thanks To Millennials, But Nobody Panic
There is a major shift going on in American society right now: Namely the fact that America is becoming less religious, thanks mostly to Millennials. What can I say, it just seems like my generation is not that into religion, and we're messing up the stats for the whole country. Uh... sorry?
“As the Millennial generation enters adulthood," Pew explains, "its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations." And the result is that the total proportion of Christians in the country has declined from about 78 percent in 2007 to 70 percent in 2014. Both Protestants and Catholics saw their numbers drop fairly significantly, and no major Christian group saw an increase in membership, although many denominations — including historically black Protestant denominations, Mormons, and Orthodox Christians — held steady.
At the same time, the number of people who are "unaffiliated" with any religious group — identifying either as atheist, agnostic, or simply as nothing in particular — has risen from about 16 percent in 2007 to about 23 percent in 2014. Many of those who identify as unaffiliated are millennials, and experts see little evidence that they will adopt religion later in life.
For those who think that religion is an important part of American life, however, there is hope! Non-Christian religions are actually experiencing some overall growth, though their total share of the population is still small. Members of non-Christian faiths made up only 4.7 percent of adults in the US in 2007, but by 2014 they made up 5.9 percent. Muslims and Hindus both saw modest gains, while the proportion of Jews and Buddhists stayed constant.
In other words, the country is changing.
For those who fear change, though, don't worry too much. Nowadays people often talk about America as a "Christian nation" but while different periods of American history have been characterized by intense and widespread Christian faith, religion has always waxed and waned in America. Just look at both the First and Second Great Awakening if you don't believe me. Or, if you want to see people get worried over supposedly earth-shattering changes in the religious landscape that turned out not to be problems at all, look at how much Americans freaked out over the Catholic immigrants during the early 20th century.
What it means to be American changes with every generation, and that's the way it's supposed to be. And it's certainly not as though ideals like freedom and individual liberty and the belief that all men are created equal are something you have to be Christian in order to get behind.
Basically, the country will continue. But hey, if you're looking to attract millennials back to the fold, it probably pays to become more progressive. Just a tip.