Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Pew Research: One-Third of Those Under 30 Are Religiously Unaffiliated

• October 09, 2012 • 10:21 PM

Millenials may be driving a “gradual softening of religious commitment” in the U.S.

A report published by the Pew Research Center (pdf) today indicates that almost 20 percent of U.S. adults polled reported no religious affiliation, that 32 percent of those under the age of 30 reported no affiliation—and that both of these numbers are on the rise.

The data, by the Forum on Religion and Public Life group at Pew, was based on telephone interviews with 2,973 U.S. adults around the beginning of this July. The study credits the overall rise in non-religious affiliations (up almost 5 percent in the last five years) to generational replacement—that growing number of young folks.

“These generational differences are consistent with other signs of a gradual softening of religious commitment among some (though by no means all) Americans in recent decades,” the report says. “Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the last 10 years, for example, find modest growth in the number of people who say they seldom or never attend religious services, as well as a declining number who say they never doubt the existence of God.”

But the report doesn’t paint the unaffiliated as entirely godless.

“Many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way,” Pew reports. “Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’ (37%), and one in five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.”

Still, an “overwhelming” number say they think religious organizations are “too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”

Candidates out on the campaign trail this week might also take note of some of the survey’s political ramifications. Six out of 10 unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats, says the report, and in 2008, they voted for Barack Obama as faithfully as white Protestants voted for John McCain.

Joel Smith
Joel Smith is a web producer at Pacific Standard. His previous work includes seven years as a staff writer and media editor at the Pacific Northwest Inlander, the alternative weekly in Spokane, Washington.

More From Joel Smith

Tags: ,

If you would like to comment on this post, or anything else on Pacific Standard, visit our Facebook or Google+ page, or send us a message on Twitter. You can also follow our regular updates and other stories on both LinkedIn and Tumblr.

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow us


Subscribe Now

Quick Studies

How Junk Food Companies Manipulate Your Tongue

We mistakenly think that harder foods contain fewer calories, and those mistakes can affect our belt sizes.

What Steve Jobs’ Death Teaches Us About Public Health

Studies have shown that when public figures die from disease, the public takes notice. New research suggests this could be the key to reaching those who are most at risk.

Speed-Reading Apps Will Not Revolutionize Anything, Except Your Understanding

The one-word-at-a-time presentation eliminates the eye movements that help you comprehend what you're reading.

To Make Friends, Autistic Kids Need Advice—and Space

Kids with autism need help when it comes to making friends—but they also need their independence.

Gaming the Wedding Gift Registry System

Registering for your wedding? Keep your must-have items away from the average price of your registry—they’re unlikely to be purchased.

The Big One

One state—Pennsylvania—logs 52 percent of all sales, shipments, and receipts for the chocolate manufacturing industry. March/April 2014