A brief report at Pew Research shows at least one statistic of interest to nonbelievers: American Millennials (people born after 1980) have shown a big drop in only the last five years in how favorably they view religion and its effects. As they report (see graph below):
Younger generations tend to have more-positive views than their elders of a number of institutions that play a big part in American society. But for some institutions – such as churches and the news media – Millennials’ opinions have become markedly more negative in the past five years.
Since 2010, Millennials’ rating of churches and other religious organizations has dipped 18 percentage points: 55% now say churches have a positive impact on the country compared with five years ago, when nearly three-quarters (73%) said this. Views among older generations have changed little over this time period. As a result, older generations are now more likely than Millennials – who are much less likely than their elders to be religious – to view religious organizations positively.
As Pew noted, the views of older age groups about religion didn’t change much, but the approval rating of “silents” actually rose 7%, as one might expect given that older Americans are more religious. There are also data on falling respect for news media and rising respect for banks, labor unions, businesses, and large corporations, but you can go to the report to see those “trends”.
Pew defines generation X as those now between 35 and 50, Boomers between ages 51 to 70, and Silents as those older than 70. Here are the data:
That comports with a Pew study from December showing that many more Millennials than older folks see Christmas as a cultural than as a religious holiday:
What does it mean? To me, an increasing secularization of America as fewer young people buy into established faith. It’s especially heartening that only a little more than half of Millennials see churches and religious organizations as having a positive effect on the U.S., and that the drop over the last five years was so large .