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Faith Not Declining- Religion Is

Religious institutions have long been struggling with what appears to be the secularization of the American public. According to a 2012 Pew Survey, approximately one-fifth of American adults identify as “Nones” -- Americans who claim to be unaffiliated with any particular religion, or identify as an atheist or agnostic. When the group is limited to adults under the age of 30, the proportion of “Nones” rises to one-third.

However, this does not appear to be due to a lack of faith among the Millennial generation. A recent study by Carnegie Mellon’s Integrated Innovation Institute found that while only 52 percent of Millennials looked to religious institutions for guidance, 62 percent actually said that they privately spoke to God.

Photo courtesy of Gavel Media

Photo courtesy of Gavel Media

Regarding the study, Peter Boatwright, co-director of the Integrated Institute, said, "Millennials are widely believed to have less faith in God and are less active in religion than their parents and grandparents. While our survey doesn't explore this comparison, we think it's telling that, overall, the majority of this generation does express a fairly strong sense of faith."

This is in line with another survey conducted by the Pew Research Center that said Millennials were “detached” from institutions. When asked the question, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people,” only 19 percent of Millennials said most people could be trusted.

In that study, the Millennial generation’s distrust of institutions was partially attributed to its diversity, citing an earlier study that showed minorities and low-income adults had lower levels of social trust than other groups. This at least does not appear to be the case in the CMU study as White Millennials (49%) were least likely to seek guidance from religious institutions while African American Millennials (67%) were the most likely.

Hispanic Millennials demonstrated the largest difference between the two sides as 67 percent they spoke to God as compared to the 54 percent that sought religious guidance. Asian Millennials (57%) were the least likely demographic to say they spoke to God.

The survey also noted a smaller, but significant difference between respondents in rural areas and respondents in urban areas regarding the question of whether or not they spoke to God. 70 percent of rural Millennials said they spoke to God while 60 percent of urban Millennials answered similarly.

Also worth noting was the fact that there was little variation in the proportion of people who sought religious guidance and spoke to God when broken down by age and education.

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School and year: A&S, 2015
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