Generations, like people, have personalities, and Millennials — the American teens and twenty-somethings who are making the passage into adulthood at the start of a new millennium — have begun to forge theirs: confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change, according to a new report released by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. And the Millennials have very definite view about matters of faith.
According to the Pew report, one in four of those aged 18 to 29 is unaffiliated with any particular faith. Young adults today also attend religious services less often than older Americans, and compared with their elders, fewer say that religion is very important in their lives.
In some areas of religious belief and practice, the 18- to 29-year-olds are not so clearly different from previous generations. Their beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles closely resemble the beliefs of older people today. The percentage of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades.
Millennials also say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among the Generation X group of a decade ago.
Other findings include:
- One-third of those under 30 attend worship services every week, compared with 41% of adults 30 and older.
- Sixty-four percent of young adults say they are absolutely certain of God’s existence, compared with 73% of those 30 and older.
- Nearly three-quarters of affiliated young adults (74%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their faith, compared with 67% of affiliated adults 30 and older.
Other significant facts from the Pew research for those working with or writing for the Millennial generation:
- Only about six-in-ten were raised by both parents — a smaller share than was the case with older generations.
- Whether as a by-product of protective parents, the age of terrorism or a media culture that focuses on dangers, they cast a wary eye on human nature. Two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” when dealing with people.
- Three-quarters have created a profile on a social networking site. One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online.
- Millennials are on course to become the most educated generation in American history, a trend driven largely by the demands of a modern knowledge-based economy
- Millennials remain the most likely of any generation to self-identify as liberals; they are less supportive than their elders of an assertive national security policy and more supportive of a progressive domestic social agenda.