YPulse asked young people to describe their religious beliefs to us. This is what they tell us…
- Spirituality is still rivaling religion among young people
- Less than half say they believe in God
- Gen Z is slightly more likely than Millennials to describe themselves as religious, but there’s more to the story
YPulse recently told you that religion didn’t make the top 10 rankings of where Gen Z turns to for guidance and support. For years, headlines have claimed that young people have been abandoning religion, turning instead to mysticism or even digital content. Indeed, our religion and spirituality behavioral survey found that the majority of 13-39-year-olds agree they have found meaning outside of traditional religion. There have also been questions around the impacts the pandemic has had on their faith. In 2022, what does religion and spirituality mean to young people, and how would they describe their religious beliefs?
Our religion and spirituality behavioral survey checks in on Gen Z and Millennials’ religious and spiritual beliefs, including whether they would describe themselves as “religious” or “spiritual.” We found that spirituality is continuing to rival religion for these generations:
Overall, spirituality is rivaling religion among young people
Thirty-four percent of 13-39-year-olds would call themselves spiritual if they had to choose between religious and spiritual, and 34% would call themselves religious. Another third would say they aren’t either, painting a picture of these generations’ more detached relationship with religion. The number who call themselves religious did not increase or decrease significantly post-pandemic. But while some may read this as a lack of religious belief, another way to read this is that the majority do say they are either spiritual or religious. In fact, 42% do say that religion is very/extremely important to them.
But Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to describe themselves as religious
Looking at the overall data, it’s clear that Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to describe themselves as “religious,” while Millennials are more likely to describe themselves as “spiritual.” Of course, given that the majority of Gen Z are still teens and living with their parents, they’re likely still attached to their family’s religious beliefs and haven’t had the chance to explore things outside of a religion in the way that Millennials have. Millennials are also more likely than Gen Z to tell YPulse that their passions in life have replaced religion for them, and that they’ve found meaning outside traditional religion.
Millennials are also slightly more likely to describe their religious beliefs as “none” and “agnostic”
When we ask Gen Z and Millennials which religion best describes their beliefs, Christianity it their top response overall, but again we found slight differences in religious beliefs between these generations:
Gen Z is slightly more likely to describe their religion as Christian, again potentially driven by the age difference between these generations. We’ll continue to monitor Gen Z’s religious beliefs, and whether their following of traditional religion decreases as they age up. Especially as this younger gen is more likely to say that they are unsure of their religious beliefs. Meanwhile Millennials are more likely than the younger gen to say that they have no religious beliefs or are agnostic. These findings align with the fact that…
Less than half of Millennials say they believe in God
When asked to choose statements that describe their beliefs about religion, 45% of 13-39-year-olds overall say they believe in God, and Millennials are (again) less likely than Gen Z to feel this statement is true for them:
Following the same pattern as the rest of the data, Gen Z is much more likely than Millennials to say they believe in God. But nearly the same number of both gens say that their religious beliefs are important to them, and that they attend religious services regularly, indicating that while Gen Z may be more likely to say they believe, the role that religion is playing in their lives isn’t necessarily strong for the majority.
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