Huff Post: Daniel Cox.
With roughly three-in-ten (31 percent) Millennials now identifying as religiously unaffiliated the debate over why this generation is abandoning religion at an unprecedented rate has mostly centered around two explanations: Millennials are leaving because they do not like churches, but will eventually return as the churches change or as they change. Or alternatively, Millennials are leaving because they have fundamental problems with religion and subsequently few will return. Not surprisingly, many religious leaders tend to embrace the first explanation, while nonreligious people see greater merit in the second. Yet, both accounts have overlooked an important shift in religious affiliation: more Americans are being raised in nonreligious homes.
Beginning in the early 1990s, surveys began registering a modest uptick in the number of Americans reporting no formal religious affiliation. Recent surveys put the number at around one-in-five. As the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown so too has the number of Americans who were raised in nonreligious households, albeit at somewhat lower rates. In 1991, four percent of Americans were raised unaffiliated compared to eight percent in 2012. However, the generational differences are much starker. Thirteen percent of Millennials report that they were raised in a nonreligious household. In contrast, among Baby Boomers only five percent report being raised religiously unaffiliated.