Religion Declining Among America’s Youth
More and more American youngsters are turning away from the religious faith they were born into. While some refuse to attribute the trend to any particular workings of religious institutions, others blame it on the increasing politicization of religion during recent years and the stance of religious politicians on issues such as gay marriages, abortion, contraception and premarital sex.
A January 2012 survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, showed that 32 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 considered themselves as being “unaffiliated” with any religious faith. The same survey showed that 21 percent of Americans between the ages of 30 and 49, 15 percent between ages 50 and 65, and only 9 percent above 65 considered themselves religiously unaffiliated. In its report, Pew refrains from attributing the “general softening of religious commitment” in America to any specific factor or even a few. Nevertheless, the survey shows that religion holds much less influence in the American daily life today than it used to.
Moreover, another study also reported by Pew compares the Presidential voting trends of the religiously unaffiliated Americans from 2000 to 2008. The data collected from the exit polls by the National Election Pool shows that the support for Democratic Candidates among those with no religion grew from 61 percent in 2000, to 67 percent in 2004, and to 75 percent in 2008. The same study shows the Republican Candidates support to be on the decline among the group from 30 percent in 2000 down to 23 percent in 2008.
Analysts attribute the decline in the GOP support to the fact that the party has become “ever more committed to mixing religion and politics,” while “the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction,” as political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell comment in their book: “American Grace.” In this book the authors argue that the right-wing religious politicization of faith in the 1990 has turned the young generation away from the Church.
Similarly, an interesting Gallup Polls study of American voter trends performed from 1937 until 2012 shows an astonishing change in attitudes toward atheist politicians. Back in 1958, only 18 percent of Americans said they would consider voting an Atheist into the Oval office. In 2012, however, that number was up by 36 points to a 54 percent majority.
Overall, the younger American generations seem to be increasingly moving away from religious dogmas, preferring a more liberal and secular approach to issues. While stances on homosexuality do seem to be playing a role in pushing the young ones away from the church, there are other factors increasingly adding to the backlash. Stances on issues such as science, climate change, and evolution tend to further diminish religions’ credibility among young Americans.