POLL: Why are millennials are leaving the church?

We keep saying millennials are leaving the church, but before we start discussing why that is, let's take a look at the numbers prompting researchers to make such a claim.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life 68 percent of millennials actually claim to be Christian (43 percent Protestant), but when compared to other age groups, that number is pretty small. For example, 88 percent of 60+ year olds are Christian.

Twenty five percent of millennials say they're unaffiliated — or nones. Ten years ago, about 16 percent of young adults claimed to be unaffiliated. Don't forget “nones” are still being defined by researchers. “Nones” don't' necessarily mean atheist or agnostic.

Millennials, by the way, for this research are those born 1980 or later.

Interestingly, it seems millennials may be checking “other” more often on the demographic surveys, but worship attendance is down across the board. Only 39 percent of the religious population reported that they attend a worship service every week. People (all ages) pray (58 percent) and meditate (39 percent) more often than they go to church.

So, now that we have some figures to look at, why do you think millennials aren't in the pews as often as grandma and grandpa? Take the survey above or leave a comment below (or both!).

We'll be discussing this topic further at our next Coffee Talk at 10 a.m., Sept. 7 at Revel 77. Hope to see you there!


About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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  1. I would have to say all of the above on this one. The one thing that always ties us together in our teens, twenties, and (nowadays) thirties is the adventure of discovering one’s own unique identity. If there’s one value the West shares, it’s blazing our own trail. Whether you we’re shaped by religion growing up or set out in the wilderness as a none, the realities and the choices of our world now touch your nose through your phone and 33,000+ choices under Christianity’s umbrella alone make for a big identity crisis.

    As technology makes it easier and easier to imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes, I believe our younger generation is simply touching upon a desire to shape and define themselves more by what they share in common than what differentiates this pew or that. The Boomers planted it, Generation X watered it and Millennials are pollinating like bees.

  2. I find this especially interesting in light of the release of Harvard’s survey statistics of 2,029 millenials 18-29 showing they favor the GOP by 51% over the Dems. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/shocking-harvard-poll-millennial-voters-want-gop-in-charge-abandon-obama/article/2555411

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