Although Millennials report praying less often than their elders do today, the GSS shows that Millennials are in sync with Generation X and Baby Boomers when members of those generations were younger. GSS data show that daily prayer increases as people get older. By this measure, young people exhibit lower levels of religious intensity than their elders do today, and this holds true within a variety of religious groups.
In this case, differences are most pronounced among Catholics, with younger Catholics being 10 points less likely than older Catholics to believe in God with absolute certainty. In other religious traditions, age differences are smaller.
Only 4 Percent of Gen Z Have a Biblical Worldview
Levels of certainty of belief in God have increased somewhat among Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in recent decades. Data on this item stretch back only to the late s, making it impossible to compare Millennials with Boomers when Boomers were at a similar point in their life cycle. Differences between young people and their elders today are also apparent in views of the Bible, although the differences are somewhat less pronounced. Overall, young people are slightly less inclined than those in older age groups to view the Bible as the literal word of God. Interestingly, age differences on this item are most dramatic among young evangelicals and are virtually nonexistent in other groups.
Although younger evangelicals are just as likely as older evangelicals and more likely than people in most other religious groups to see the Bible as the word of God, they are less likely than older evangelicals to see it as the literal word of God. On this measure, too, Millennials display beliefs that closely resemble those of Generation X in the late s.
On still other measures of religious belief, there are few differences in the beliefs of young people compared with their elders today. In fact, on several of these items, young mainline Protestants and members of historically black Protestant churches exhibit somewhat higher levels of belief than their elders. Young people who are affiliated with a religion are more inclined than their elders to believe their own religion is the one true path to eternal life though in all age groups, more people say many religions can lead to eternal life than say theirs is the one true faith.
This pattern is evident among all three Protestant groups but not among Catholics.
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Interestingly, while more young Americans than older Americans view their faith as the single path to salvation, young adults are also more open to multiple ways of interpreting their religion. Young people are more accepting of homosexuality and evolution than are older people. They are also more comfortable with having a bigger government, and they are less concerned about Hollywood threatening their values.
But when asked generally about morality and religion, young adults are just as convinced as older people that there are absolute standards of right and wrong that apply to everyone. Young adults are also slightly more supportive of government efforts to protect morality and of efforts by houses of worship to express their social and political views.
Stark age differences also exist within each of the major religious traditions examined. Compared with older members of their faith, significantly larger proportions of young adults say society should accept homosexuality.
Faith and Faithlessness by Generation: The Decline and Rise are Real
These two cohorts are significantly less likely than members of previous generations have ever been to say that homosexuality is always wrong. The views of the various generations on this question have fluctuated over time, often in tandem. On this issue, young adults express slightly more permissive views than do adults ages 30 and older. Interestingly, this pattern represents a significant change from earlier polling. Previously, people in the middle age categories i. In , however, attitudes toward abortion moved in a more conservative direction among most groups in the population, with the notable exception of young people.
The result of this conservative turn among those in the and age brackets means that their views now more closely resemble those of the youngest age group, while those in the and-older group now express the most conservative views on abortion of any age group. These patterns are seen both in the total population and within a variety of religious traditions, though the link between age and views on evolution is strongest among Catholics and members of historically black Protestant churches.
But differences between young adults and their elders are not so stark on all moral and social issues.
Generation Y and Faith: Spiritual But Not Religious - Growing Leaders
GSS surveys show Millennials are more permissive than their elders are today in their views about pornography, but their views are nearly identical to those expressed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers when members of those generations were at a similar point in their life cycles. Data for the Silent and Greatest generations at similar ages are not available, but data from the s onward suggest that people become more opposed to pornography as they age.
Similarly, Millennials at the present time stand out from other generations for their opposition to Bible reading and prayer in schools, but they are less distinctive when compared with members of Generation X or Baby Boomers at a comparable age. For other treatments of religion among young adults in the U. Download the full report page PDF. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.
But if we look past our various cultural prejudices, what does the evidence actually indicate? If the attitudes and priorities of Generation Y are, in fact, so strikingly distinct from their counterparts, what might it tell us about the future shape of economic order? In Christians at Work , which is based on a new study from Barna , we get an in-depth look at all this, particularly as it relates to generational differences among employed Christians.
The study explores a range of attitudes and beliefs—whether about professional fulfillment, calling, personal gifts, and more—seeking to identify meaningful trends and ways the church might rally to fill gaps in perspective or discipleship.
Gen X:Y Faith
The findings indicate that such attitudes and beliefs do, indeed, differ between millennials and other generations, with Baby Boomers and Generation Xers aligning closely in most areas. Overall, Gen X tend to align more with Boomers than Millennials, with some exceptions. Again, while all three generations share a belief that God has given each of us unique personal talents and abilities, Boomers are far less eager to grow and improve in newly discovering or applying these gifts to daily economic life:.
They express less enthusiasm about future opportunities, but that may be because they feel more presently secure, having already climbed or grown skeptical of the corporate ladder. And given that Boomers often tell Barna their identity is defined by family, we may simply be witnessing a natural shift in life priorities that comes with age. In other words, Millennials might expect more of their professional future because there is more of it, while Boomers are in a less exploratory, even stable, season of career.
The reasons for such differences are numerous, and many of them may be related to different ages or life seasons more generally instead of generations specifically. But whatever we attribute for the shifts, the findings provide some hints as to where we might focus and how the church might best proceed in better empowering and equipping each generation in stewarding their economic futures and developing a distinctly and comprehensively Christian economic vision.
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For Boomers and, somewhat less so, Generation Xers, we see an opportunity reinvigorate and re-inspire a sense of calling and vocational destiny across all spheres and stations.