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Sunday, August 13, 2023

Why Are Young People Leaving Religion

Daniel Cox, at The Survey Center on American Life:
The question remains: what is the reason so many young people are leaving religion? There’s no single answer, but the most compelling explanation is that changes in American family life precipitated this national decline. American families have changed dramatically over the past few decades and many churches have been slow to respond. Americans raised in blended families, interfaith families or single-parent families are far less likely to have participated in religion growing up. And these types of family arrangements have become far more common today than they once were. The family explanation is compelling for a few reasons: 
  1. Young people today are leaving much earlier than those of previous generations. Seventy percent of young adults who have disaffiliated shed their formative religious identities during their teen years.
  2. The Americans most likely to “leave” religion are those with the weakest formative attachments. Compared to previous generations, Generation Z reports having a less robust religious experience during their childhood.
  3. Most Americans who disaffiliate say they “drifted away” from religion rather than experiencing a singular negative or traumatic event that pushed them out. To put it another way, they quiet quit.
  4. A wealth of research has shown that religious socialization in the family is a key component of the transmission of religious values, identity, and beliefs across generations.