If you are my age, early 50’s, think about how different your parents generation is from your children’s generation. When my parents were teenagers, TV was new technology. Rock and roll was a new style of music that shook mores and pants legs. And, most women still worked as stay-at-home moms.
Technology for today’s teenagers changes 2-3 times during their high school years. Rock and Roll now has multiple categories. Almost all households today consist of two income even if the mom stays home. And, in many cases it is the dad that stays home with the children.
As for religion when my parents were teenagers, almost everyone identified themselves with a major Judeo-Christian religion. So many people attended a service on Sunday mornings it was difficult to find any kind of store open on Sunday mornings.
However, a recent study by General Social Survey (GSS) reported that 20 percent of American adults said in 2012 that they had no religious preference. This trend began to accelerate in 1990 when 8 percent claimed no religious preference.
Every person surveyed since 1972, when 5 percent responded with no religious preference, was asked the same question, “What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, some other religion, or no religion?”
Analysis of the data reveals no slowing of the trend. For example, among 18-to-24 year olds, 32 percent prefer no religion; among people 75 years old and over, only 7 percent prefer no religion. The biggest gap in the age pattern is the ten percentage-point difference between 25-to-34 year olds, 29 percent of whom prefer no religion, and 35-to-44 year olds, 19 percent of whom prefer no religion.
At the current rate of change, in 2 more generations, or about 50 years, more than 50% of people in America will claim no religious preference.
Interestingly, non-affiliation with a major religion has not meant a lack of belief in God or a divine being. It simply means that fewer people are associating their faith in a Higher Being with an organized religion.
I have questions for two sets of people.
For those who do not affiliate with any religious organization, but you still have a belief in God:
- Do you care one way or another about these results?
- Is your faith in God private or do you share it with others?
- Where do you experience community?
For those who do affiliate with a religious organization:
- Did you grow up in a family that regularly attended a religious service (at least twice per month)?
- Would you consider your faith integrated into your everyday life?
- If you are an adult over 45, do you see your children turning away from organized religion? If so, why do you think they are?
A Question for all—How do you think the current trend will affect the social fabric of our country?