October 17, 2012

A Third of Young Adults Not Affiliated with a Religion

32%

Young adults are more likely than other age groups to say they are not affiliated with a religion.

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public — and a third of adults under 30 — are religiously unaffiliated today.

The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans — sometimes called the rise of the “nones” — is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. A third (32%) of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation, compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%).

Young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives. 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.

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. Read More