Americans are becoming less religious, and religious Americans are staying committed. That’s one general finding from a study by Pew Research Center, released this month. While the “nones” (those who affiliate with no organized religious group) are growing in numbers and waning in religious practice, those who do affiliate with a religious group are maintaining their engagement in observation of their faith–perhaps even increasing in commitment. Evidence suggests that the low religious engagement of our youngest generation of adults, the Millennials, is largely responsible for the overall trend toward a less religious landscape. Other generations are largely maintaining their religious commitment.
As a curious person and someone with a high interest in matters of faith–particularly in what’s happening in Christian churches–I always find such studies compelling. One of the most interesting things about this one is the contrast it shows between people who are and are not affiliated with a formal religious group. Does that engagement keep people committed, or does their reluctance to affiliate indicate that they’ve already lost interest in observing faith practices, even on their own? What is it about those born after 1980 that accounts for such a dramatic shift in religious belief and practice? What does this mean for the future power of religious groups to exercise political influence, do charitable work, and provide services to their communities? for the way the rest of the world will view us? And does this survey confirm the idea that when social pressure is on, people find themselves either walking away or wrestling with their commitment and ultimately deepening it? I suspect so.
I’m interested in your comments on this survey. What questions do you have? speculations? Where do you think these numbers will go in the future?
© 2015 Amy Simpson.