Survey: Millennials Attend Religious Services Less Often than Older Adults

Millennials in the United States attend religious services less often than older Americans, a new survey finds.

One-third of Americans under the age of 30 say they attend worship services at least once a week, compared with 41 percent of adults 30 and older, a report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life reveals. The age group with the highest weekly attendance is those over the age of 65 (53 percent).

Of the total population, 39 percent of Americans say they attend religious services at least once a week.

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The Pew Research Center noted that the long-running General Social Surveys shows Millennials currently attend worship services at lower rates than Baby Boomers did when they were younger.

The latest Pew report, released Wednesday, examines the behaviors, values and opinions of Americans ages 18 to 29 that make up the Millennial generation. Titled "Religion Among the Millennials," the report explores how the religious characteristics and social views of young adults differ from older people today, as well as previous generations when they were the same age.

Besides lower worship service attendance, researchers also found that Millennials are much more likely to be unaffiliated than older American adults. Pew defines unaffiliated as those that describe their religion as "atheist," "agnostic" or "nothing in particular." One-in-four Millennials are unaffiliated with any particular faith.

By comparison, members of Generation X were less unaffiliated at a comparable point in their life (20 percent in the late 1990s) and only 13 percent of Baby Boomers were unaffiliated as young adults in the late 1970s.

A large portion of young adults who say they are unaffiliated left the religion of their upbringing without adopting a new faith. Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of adults under age 30 say they were raised in a religion but are now unaffiliated.

Among Millennials that are affiliated, about two-thirds of them (68 percent) say they are members of a Christian denomination, of which 22 percent say they are evangelical.

In addition to being less affiliated with a faith than older Americans, Millennials are also less likely to say that religion is very important in their lives. Less than half of adults under the age of 30 say that religion is very important in their lives (45 percent), compared with nearly six-in-ten adults 30 and older (59 percent).

But the report also found that some religious beliefs and practices of young adults remain similar to older adults today. Young adults' beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles closely resemble the beliefs of older people. And the proportion of young adults who say they pray every day is similar to the percentage of young people who said the same in previous decades.

Millennials also say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among Gen-Xers a decade ago.

In terms of social and political views, though, young adults are more accepting than older Americans of homosexuality, more prone to see evolution as the best explanation for human life and less likely to see Hollywood as threatening their moral values.

The report is based mostly on data from Pew's 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey of 35,000 Americans and the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

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