Acton Institute Powerblog

College-Age Millennials Are Losing Their Religion

Younger Millennials (ages 18-24) report significant levels of movement from the religious affiliation of their childhood, mostly toward identifying as religiously unaffiliated, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown’s Berkley Center. The survey also finds that they support government intervention to address the gap between the rich and poor.

Some of the highlights from the survey include:

• While only 11% of Millennials were religiously unaffiliated in childhood, one-quarter (25%) currently identify as unaffiliated, a 14-point increase.

• Catholics and white mainline Protestants saw the largest net losses (-7.9% and -5%) while black Protestants and white evangelicals saw the least decline (-1.1 and -0.8).

• College-age Millennials are more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated. They are less likely than the general population to identify as white evangelical Protestants or white mainline Protestant.

• Only one-in-four (25%) say they attend religious services at least once a week, while 3-in-10 (30%) say they attend occasionally (once or twice a month or a few times a year). More than 4-in-10 say they seldom (16%) or never attend (27%).
• One-third (33%) report that they pray at least daily and about 1-in-4 (27%) say they pray occasionally. Nearly 4-in-10 (37%) say they seldom or never pray.

• A majority (54%) believe that God is a person with who one can have a relationship. About 1-in-5 (22%) say that God is an impersonal force, and 14% say they do not believe in God.

• Fewer than 1-in-10 say that religion is very important or the most important thing in their life. Nearly 8-in-10 white evangelicals (78%) and black Protestants (77%) say that religion is either very important or the most important thing in their life.

• Nearly three-quarters (73%) agree that the economic system in the U.S. unfairly favors the wealthy, while 24% disagree. Majorities of all political parties agree: 85% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans.

• Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) believe that the government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, while 28% disagree.

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).