Organized Religion Recedes As Individual Choices on Rise

Saint-peters-basilica (1)

St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

According to a recent Pew Research Center polling, the percentage of Protestants Christians, who say they attend church weekly has diminished over the decades. Now in Norway 9%, Sweden 8%, Germany 7%, Finland 5% and Denmark 3% attend the church every week.

catholic and protestant church attendance

For years, surveys have indicated that members of the youngest generation of adults in the U.S. are far less likely than older Americans to identify with a religious group. But a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that, as time goes on, the already-large share of religiously unaffiliated Millennial adults is increasing significantly.

A high percentage of younger members of the Millennial generation – those who have entered adulthood in just the last several years – are religious “nones” (saying they are atheists or agnostics, or that their religion is “nothing in particular”). At the same time, an increasing share of older Millennials also identify as “nones,” with more members of that group rejecting religious labels in recent years.

Overall, 35% of adult Millennials (Americans born between 1981 and 1996) are religiously unaffiliated. Far more Millennials say they have no religious affiliation compared with those who identify as evangelical Protestants (21%), Catholics (16%) or mainline Protestants (11%).

Although older generations also have grown somewhat more religiously unaffiliated in recent years, Millennials remain far more likely to identify as religious “nones.” The 35% of Millennials who do not identify with a religion is double the share of unaffiliated Baby Boomers (17%) and more than three times the share of members of the Silent generation (11%).

The child abuse scandals in both the Catholic and other churches have taken their toll.

But while Millennials are not as religious as older Americans by some measures of religious observance, they are as likely to engage in many spiritual practices. For instance, like older Americans, more than four-in-ten of these younger adults (46%) say they feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe at least once a week. Likewise, most also say they think about the meaning and purpose of life on a weekly basis (55%), again, similar to older generations.

Roughly three-quarters of Millennials feel a strong sense of gratitude or thankfulness at least weekly (76%). And 51% say they feel a deep sense of spiritual peace and well-being at least once a week.

generations and spirituality

Churches, mosques and synagogues and organized religion provided the main outlets for social interaction and to learn about religion.  In this age of information and social media there are countless other resources. To know about the God of the Abrahamic faiths one can learn from the best national and international experts on YouTube and like rather than limiting ourselves to the preacher of local church, mosque or synagogue.

I believe that this trend towards individualism will only increase in decades to come and will include all faiths and will not be exclusive to Christianity or only one faith.

Suggested Reading:

Australia Sexual Abuse ‘A National Tragedy’

“Why I Am A Biblical Unitarian”: A Conversation with Sir Anthony Buzzard

Pope signals he’s open to married Catholic men becoming priests

Allah the Creator, the Maker and the Fashioner: The Best Documentary on Birds



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