Half of American adults ages 18 to 33 are self-described political independents, according to a survey out Friday, but at the same time half of these so-called millennials are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, the highest share for any age group over the last decade.
In addition, young adults tend to be single and churchless — turning away from their predecessors’ proclivity for religion and marriage, according the Pew Research Center survey. Almost two-thirds don’t classify themselves as “a religious person.” And when it comes to tying the knot: Only about 1 in 4 millennials is married. Almost half of baby boomers were married at that age….
Only 36 percent of the millennials said the phrase “a religious person” described them very well, compared with 52 percent of the Gen Xers, 55 percent of the baby boomers and 61 percent of the Silent Generation. And they’re significantly less religious than their immediately predecessors, the Gen Xers. When they were the same age, almost half of the Gen Xers — 47 percent — identified themselves as religious. SOURCE: Many millennials are skipping church, marriage and political affiliations, study finds | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour | PBS.
Let’s face it, America is changing. As the title of the graphic above says people are becoming unmoored from entrenched institutions. In many cases I think that is a good thing. Those between 18 -33 years old are more independent thinkers than any generation in the past. They are for the most part pragmatists. I kind of think much of that is due to the proliferation of information available because of the Internet.
I can remember in my youth having to spend hours in the library card stack trying to find information for a school essay. I took my writing as seriously then as I do today so research was the name of the game. Now just about any question you can ask has answers almost immediately via an Internet search. If it is a political question you don’t just get a party line Republican/Democrat answer anymore but also a myriad of other possible explanations including even this blog. The information age will radically change our nation in the coming years.
This dramatic season of change requires that many our current social institutions must change or go the way of the dinosaur. The “truths” of yesterday are no longer the truths of today. This change creates opportunities for some and death for others. It should not be a surprise that conservative politics of anti-this and anti-that is quickly losing favor. The political party that presents answers instead of grid-lock will find favor. It is heartening to see that the demise of the radical right-wing of politics is on the horizon.
By the same token religious institutions that focus on God’s love rather than his Old Testament wrath will flourish. Those that successfully meld science and spirituality will be those who continue to exist in the coming years. In my mind the movement known as the emergent church is just such an institution. It focuses on core beliefs and action rather than ancient beliefs and outdated customs.
When the younger generations eventually drag the power away from those entrenched in the “old ways”, there will be some exciting times in our country. For those who are getting ready to jump on the comments wagon, no this is not a black/white thing. Many of the truths that we call morality will not be overthrown. But those based on fear, intimidation, and outdated traditions will get their due demise and that is as it should be.
7 thoughts on “Many millennials are skipping church, marriage and political affiliations…”
Good discussion with my millennials tonight. Thanks.
Glad I could help. Let us know any insight you gained from those discussions.
Try to keep it short.
They felt that most of the 25% who are married are also the base of the 34% who are religious. They also feel that they, personally, are religious- but do not attend a Church service more then once a month. They know they are rare in their age group being married with children and a stay at home parent. They are just now beginning to go to weddings of peers(28-35 yr olds).
They see three types of religious people in their groups:
people in a social religion that demands practice to participate (LDS, Mega Churches- mostly Baptist, Jewish), people who seek God for their family- in many forms, people who have not yet left the Church of their grandparents. I say grandparents because they feel that the people who really left church behind were the
Dual working couple or divorced -exhausted on weekend- parents who raised their generation.
They feel people join churches to get support in raising their children to be moral humans instead of one of “me only” minions. They predict social churches that offer lots for the family (and don’t do much for the community) will continue to grow. It does not really matter what church believes as long as it is moral. (Good discussion there as well).
Knowing how my children were raised and what I heard, I agree that established churches will probably fall to the wayside in this generation. Social Churches, for some, will take their places- more like country clubs. What it will look like in 50 years? No clue.
Thanks for the report. Yeah, married with kids seems to be a shrinking population. The “spiritual but not religious” category is growing. I believe those are the ones who are seeking God but don’t think they have found him in current religious institutions. Many seem to have given up church because of all the scandals both Catholic and Protestant. My opinion, although I am certain not a millennial 🙂 , is that the anti-science thing turns many off too. When we must declare that things like the “earth is only 6,000 years old” it makes us doubt the foundation of beliefs…
Thanks again for the report.
Your reasons (scandal and anti science) never came up in the conversation. Time and relationships were the over riding factors.
I think your reasons are why the Gen x people left.
As you touched on, RJ, visible religious figureheads make controversial statements that push people–especially younger people–away from their respective religions. But, I think that one key aspect here that has been largely overlooked is the issue of pettiness. Many of the famous raging anti-theists have a story of how they came to hate religion; it’s typically something along the lines of, “One day I suddenly realized that I don’t agree with , therefore God doesn’t exist and all religion is backwards and should be banned.” I’m not sure if this was largely condemned in the past, but I do know that in the present, it is glorified. In terms of culture, minutiae is of the utmost importance, whereas thinking and critical analysis are boring and lame; hence why many millennials will spend hours and hours on Facebook and Twitter, and exactly 0 seconds at a voting booth.
The lack of political affiliation, I think, is best explained by a rising disgust with both major parties, and I’d imagine it’s also experienced (to a lesser, but still significant, degree) by the parents and grandparents of millennials.
TWM, thanks for the comments. They add to the discussion. I agree at least on some level about the anti-theist. At times I briefly think if there really is a God surely he would straighten us out with our 40,000 different versions of him around today. Even Mother Teresa doubted God on occasion.
I don’t know if the 18-33 year olds are spending so much time on the social media sites as those younger than them. But we can’t paint all young people as uninvolved with adult issues.
The political disgust is much more rampant than just this small group. I used to be very informed about our government workings but have almost totally dropped out in the last six months due to total disappointment with both parties. Washington has always been about politics but not as extreme as it is now.
Thanks again for the comments.