According to a new study from the Springtide Research Institute, most young people in Generation Z (ages 13-25) who claim to be spiritual or religious reject organized religion.
The study, titled The State of Religion & Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty, revealed that 52 percent of young people who said they were “just Christian” were either a member of or participated in a religious community, while 48 percent did not.
Sixty-eight percent of respondents who identified as Protestants also said they were members of a spiritual or religious community, while 56 percent of Roman Catholics and 55 percent of Mormons said they were members of a faith community.
Concerning race, young White and Hispanic people were the least likely racial groups to participate in organized religion, with 42 percent of whites and 41 percent of Hispanics saying they are a member of a faith community.
Black and Asian Americans, however, had higher numbers of young people participating in religious of spiritual communities, with 55 percent of Black Americans and 51 percent of Asian Americans reporting that they are members of a faith community.
As reported by The Christian Post, the 2021 study also showed that while 71 percent of young people consider themselves to be at least slightly religious or spiritual (78 percent), many of the respondents would rather turn to their family and friends during times of uncertainty and difficulty instead of a religious community.
For instance, twice as many young people confided in their family (49 percent) and friends (55 percent) in difficult times than any other relationship. Meanwhile, the respondents turned to “no one” in times of uncertainty as much as they would turn to someone associated with a religious community.
Josh Packard, the executive director of Springtide Research Institute, explained that the study’s findings note how religious leaders have misunderstood young people when it comes to matters of the faith.
“For years now, religious leaders have been paying attention to the wrong things when it comes to understanding young people,” Packard said in a statement.
“The old categories just aren’t useful,” he added. “We have to start looking at who they really are, what they believe, and how they form their identities, not just paying attention to which box they check on one question of a survey.”
The data from the study comes after an entire year of research, including qualitative interviews and over 10,000 surveys asking questions about young people’s beliefs, practices, behaviors, and relationships.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines 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.