Recent studies have people panicking that religion is declining, especially among young people, but a new report from Gallup shows that people tend to return to religion as they age and this has been the pattern for generations.
Alarm bells started to go off when a variety of research from sources such as the Pew Research Center, Gallup, and NORC’s General Social Survey all came to a similar conclusion in numbers that showed about 20-25 percent of US adults now identified as religious “nones.”
More specifically, “none” did not mean that these adults did not identify as Christians or some other religion, but simply did not identify with a particular religious denomination. As of 2019, 65 percent of American adults described themselves as being Christian. That number has declined from 78 percent a decade earlier.
The Pew Research Center only found that 5 percent of people identify as being atheists, and 4 percent identify as agnostic.
A number of studies, particularly those from the Pew Research Center has shown that religion has declined, more so than any time in American history, among younger people with today’s Millennials and Generation Z.
The latest figures show that 40 percent of Millennials are religious “nones,” while Generation X makes up 25 percent. Generation Z was not included in the study, but estimates assume it may be as high as 50 percent.
However, a new study by Gallup has shown that, while the numbers are different, the tendency and trend isn’t anything new, and in fact, is quite normal.
Young people tend to become less religious after the age of eighteen. This is not coincidental, as this is the age when many young people leave home, begin working in the real world or go to college.
Something happens to people around their 30s. People get married, have children, and get more involved in a variety of communities. At this point, religious interest begins to rise again.
According to the Gallup study: “The basic sociological structure of religiosity by age is well-established and has been evident for decades. It’s a firmly set ‘generational’ pattern – that is, one that occurs to every generation of individuals across time.”
The study went on to say that older millennials are more religious than younger ones, and that “the surprise would be if this weren’t the case.”
The Gallup study firmly proved with data that shows religious ‘nones’ decrease with age. Further, the study found that church attendance also increases with age.
The study by Gallup concluded that “the generational patterns by which people return to religion as they age still appear to be evident.”