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A Growing Number of Young Americans Identify as Religiously Unaffiliated, Study Shows

Milton Quintanilla | CrosswalkHeadlines Contributor | Updated: Mar 29, 2022
A Growing Number of Young Americans Identify as Religiously Unaffiliated, Study Shows

A Growing Number of Young Americans Identify as Religiously Unaffiliated, Study Shows

According to a new report, a large number of Americans are leaving church amid growing dissatisfaction with religion.

The survey, titled Generation Z and the Future of Faith in America, found that Gen Z is now the least religious generation, with 34 percent identifying as religiously unaffiliated. Millennials (29 percent), Gen X (25 percent), baby boomers (18 percent) and the silent generation (8 percent) all had higher levels of religious affiliation.

“Young adults today have had entirely different religious and social experiences than previous generations did. The parents of millennials and Generation Z did less to encourage regular participation in formal worship services and model religious behaviors in their children than had previous generations,” Daniel A. Cox, a senior fellow in polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in a statement.

“Many childhood religious activities that were once common, such as saying grace, have become more of the exception than the norm,” he noted.

Cox, who also serves as director of the Survey Center on American Life, noted that “for as long as we have been able to measure religious commitments, childhood religious experiences have strongly predicted adult religiosity.” He cited Proverbs 22:6, which reads, “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” to support his claim.

Conversely, people who grew up without a religious affiliation are likely to remain unaffiliated in adulthood.

“Today, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans who report having no childhood religious affiliation say they still are unaffiliated as adults, rivaling that of established religious traditions,” Cox wrote.

As reported by The Christian Post, the report showed multiple reasons why American adults are leaving religion, including breach of trust.

“Gallup has found that trust and confidence in organized religion have plummeted over the past two decades. In 2021, only 37 percent of the public reported having a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in religious institutions, a massive decline since 2001 when 60 percent reported feeling confident,” Cox explained.

Another reason for rising religious disaffiliation is the belief that religion does more harm than good. The survey found that 35 percent of all Americans believe religion does more harm than good. Sixty-nine percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans said the same, despite growing up in a religious household. Additionally, 63 percent of Americans who have always disassociated themselves from religion believe it causes more harm than good.


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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for CrosswalkHeadlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.

A Growing Number of Young Americans Identify as Religiously Unaffiliated, Study Shows