Most Common Religious Identity For Young Americans Is ‘None,’ Study Suggests

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An American Enterprise Institute survey finds the most common religion for ages 18-29 is “none.”

What We Know:

  • Most young Americans are religiously unaffiliated. An American Enterprise Insititute report suggests that 34% of Americans ages 18 to 29 responded their religious identity to be “none.” The survey collected data from 4,067 adults, asking about their religious beliefs and how their social network impacted their identity. Respondents told researchers that they were atheist, agnostic, or didn’t identify with any religion. Daniel Cox, the author of the report, told the HuffPost, “young people are more likely to know an atheist than an evangelical Christian.”
  • AEI asked their respondents to provide information on their core social network. Researchers found that 42% of Americans have a close social connection with a religiously unaffiliated person. The results come as a vast increase from 2004, where 18% of respondents said the same. 
  • The report saw a generational divide; young adults tended to express more uncertainty about God than adults 65 and older. Only 39% of young adults were sure God exists, whereas 61% of seniors were certain of God’s existence. The responder was also more likely to have an uncertainty of God if they were close to a “none.” About 36% of Catholics with a close “none” connection were certain of God, whereas 65% of Catholics without a “none” connection were certain of God’s existence. 
  • When asked whether a person needed to believe in God to be good, 34% of young adults and 43% of seniors said believing in God is necessary to be good. Cox explained that attitudes on this matter had shifted considerably in the past years. A possible explanation is increased socialization between religious and non-religious people. 
  • The growing number of adults religiously unaffiliated seems to have made an impact on America. In general, more people consider themselves non-religious than before. AEI found that 26% of all adults were religiously unaffiliated. Additionally, 26% of young adults and 15% of seniors responded that America has never been a Christian nation. 
  • It was previously thought that nonreligious Americans were less social, political, and involved because of the lack of institutional structures to develop connections. However, AEI’s research found that social networks between religious and nonreligious individuals are about even. 

In an age where keeping connected is simpler than ever, both religious and non-religious individuals can connect. As Americans start to include diversity in their social networks, perhaps a more inclusive and understanding America is on the rise. 

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