Only a quarter of Gen Z attends church at least once a month, survey finds
Only 28% of Generation Z Americans say they're committed to attending religious services at least once a month, as 14% identify as atheist or agnostic, according to a recent poll that suggests the younger generation is also much more likely to identify as LGBT.
The "Gen Z Post Election Research" polls, released this month by the Walton Family Foundation and Murmuration in conjunction with SocialSphere, surveyed Gen Z participants ages 15 to 25 as well as adults 26 and over on a wide variety of questions as researchers attempt to gain an understanding for the habits and preferences of the young voters.
The study gathered data in early December from 3,227 15- to 25-year-olds and 1,036 adults aged 26 and older through online surveys. The survey for Gen Z respondents has a 1.7 percentage-point margin of error, while the study of adults 26 and older has a 3 percentage-point margin of error.
The survey asked respondents how often they attend religious services aside from weddings and funerals.
Five percent of Gen Z and 5% of adults aged 26 and older said they attend religious services more than once a week. Thirteen percent of Gen Z respondents said they attend services once a week, compared to 16% of older adults.
Slightly more Gen Z respondents said they attend services once or twice a month (10%) than older adults (8%).
About 23% of Gen Z respondents said they attend religious services a few times a year, while only 14% of older adult respondents said the same.
A higher percentage of adults 26 and over said they seldom attend religious services (24%), compared to 13% of Gen Z participants. Thirty-one percent of Gen Z respondents said they never attend religious services outside of weddings or funerals, and 32% of older adults said the same.
Generation Z respondents were more likely to identify as atheists (9%) than adults over 26 (5%). Five percent of Gen Z respondents and 4% of older adult respondents identify as agnostic.
Generation Z was much more likely to identify as either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or some other form of queer.
Only 75% of Gen Z respondents said they identify as "heterosexual or straight," compared to 92% of older adults. Nine percent of Gen Z respondents identified as bisexual, while 3% of adults 26 and up said the same. Two percent of Gen Z respondents and 1% of older adults identified as gay, while 1% of Gen Z respondents and less than 1% of older adults identified as lesbian.
Four percent of Gen Z respondents identified as having an "Other Queer identity," while less than 1% of adults 26 or older said the same. Additionally, 4% of Gen Z respondents identified as "transgender or non-binary," compared to less than 1% of older adults.
When asked what denomination they affiliate with, 24% of Gen Z respondents and 25% of older adults said they identify as Catholic. Only 9% of Gen Z respondents identified as Protestant, while 23% of adults aged 26 and over said the same. Eleven percent of Gen Z respondents and 9% of older adults identified as "Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian."
Twenty-six percent of Gen Z youth surveyed said they have no religious preference, and 22% of adults 26 and over said the same.
When asked how important religion is in their lives, 39% of Gen Z respondents said religion is "very important" compared to 48% of older adults. Thirty-six percent of Gen Z respondents said religion is "somewhat important," while 29% of older adults said the same.
Twenty-three percent of Gen Z respondents said religion is "not very important" in their lives, and 22% of older adults held the same opinion.
In 2018, the Barna Group found that Gen Z is the least Christian generation in American history as only about 4% holds a biblical worldview and more teens identify as agnostic, atheist or not religiously affiliated than previous generations.
"Gen Z is different because they have grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church. So that is a really unique shift," Brooke Hempell, Barna's senior vice president of research, said at the survey's release event.
"There are a lot of churches that are empty in this country. Gen Z is the one who is really showing the fruit of that. There are many of them [who] are a spiritual blank slate. For the first time in our nation's history, that is more and more common."
A survey released last summer of over 2,500 adults over 18 found that most Gen Z and millennial respondents who say they have made personal commitments to Christ do not attend church in person or online at least once per month.
The August edition of the "State of the Bible: USA 2022" report from the American Bible Society found that about 66% of Gen Z and millennial respondents who have made a meaningful commitment to Jesus do not attend church either in person or online at least once a month.
The poll also found that among non-practicing Christians, Gen Z had the highest percentage of respondents who said they increased their Bible reading in the past year (17%). However, they also had the highest share who said they decreased their Bible reading (20%).
"This should challenge every Christian and ministry leader to intentionally cultivate relationships with their younger neighbors, who are often seeking security and hope amidst ever-increasing anxiety," John Farquhar Plake, director of ministry intelligence for the American Bible Society, said. "It's our prayer that every generation is able to meaningfully connect with the Word of God, engaging with it as a way of life and actively living out their faith in community."
An American Bible Society's "State of the Bible" survey released in August 2021 found that fewer than 10% of Gen Z youth read the Bible regularly. Researchers polled individuals as young as 15 and split the generation between "Gen Z youth," aged 15-17, to separate them from "Gen Z adults," aged 18 to 24.
The survey concluded that Gen Z has a "precarious relationship with the Bible."
According to the data, only 9% of Gen Z youth were classified as "Scripture Engaged." Forty-seven percent of Gen Z youth in the survey were labeled "Bible Disengaged."
On the other hand, 14% of Gen Z adults and 23% of millennials were classified as "Scripture Engaged."
"Half of all American adults qualify as a Bible User today — those who use the Bible at least three to four times per year," stated the report.
"However, only one-third of Gen Z youth (34%) are Bible Users, while 43 percent of Gen Z adults qualify. Compared with Gen Z, millennials have a much higher percentage of Bible Users, approaching the national average (49%)."
Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follower her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman