Researchers led by San Diego State University Psychology Professor Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., found that millennials are the least religious generation of the last six decades, and possibly in the nation’s history. They analyzed data from 11.2 million respondents from four nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents ages 13 to 18 taken between 1966 and 2014.
Results published in the journal PLOS One conclude that recent adolescents are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives, report less approval of religious organizations and find themselves feeling less spiritual and spending less time praying or meditating. “Unlike previous studies, ours is able to show that millennials’ lower religious involvement is due to cultural change, not to their being young and unsettled,” says Twenge, who is also the author of Generation Me.
“Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenXers were at the same ages,” she notes. “We also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today’s adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all.”