For Immediate Release
Contact: Jesse Galef, (617) 858-6727
Secular Millennials Rising to Counter Religious Right on Abortion, LGBTQ Acceptance
COLUMBUS, OH - As secular Millennials replace their more religious counterparts in older generations, a nonreligious groundswell is rising to oppose the influence of the evangelical Religious Right. The Pew Research Center released its newest Religious Landscape Survey yesterday, finding that the percent of Americans unaffiliated with religion rose from 16% to 23% in seven years, fueled primarily by younger generations rejecting religion and remaining secular as they age. The number of self-identifying atheists and agnostics rose to 11%. The growth and staying power of this culturally progressive cohort heralds a new force to challenge the Religious Right, claims the Secular Student Alliance, a national nonprofit representing nonreligious students.
“Today’s Millennials are rejecting religion in droves, and they won’t stand by as reproductive health is restricted and their LGBTQ friends are stigmatized,” said Secular Student Alliance Executive Director August E. Brunsman IV. “The Religious Right pulled our country toward intolerance for far too long, and young secularists are finally here to pull it back.”
Contrary to two typical reasons for skepticism about the demographic trend, the Pew survey finds that Millennials are not becoming more religious as they age and that the religiously unaffiliated have become more secular over time. From 2007 to 2014, the percent of Americans born 1981 to 1989 who consider religion "Not too/not at all" important in their lives rose from 23% to 29%, and among the 55.8 million unaffiliated Americans, the percent reporting belief in a God fell from 70% to 61%. The trend toward a secular worldview is continuing, with younger Millennials - born 1990 or later - two and a half times as likely not to believe in a God compared to those born before 1945, 20% to 8%.
Pew's survey also found that religiously unaffiliated Americans are among the most likely to hold cultural views opposite to the Religious Right, with atheists and agnostics providing the strongest contrast. 94% of atheists said homosexuality should be accepted by society, while only 36% of evangelical Protestants agreed. Similarly, at 87% atheists and agnostics were the group most likely to support abortion rights, a view shared by only 33% of evangelical Protestants.
This contrast with the Religious Right is alienating the growing unaffiliated constituency. The percent of Democrats who are unaffiliated with religion grew from 19% to 28% since 2007, making it the single largest religious category in the Democratic coalition.
More than ever, the Secular Student Alliance's campus groups are engaging in progressive activism supporting LGBTQ acceptance, reproductive health access, and the teaching of evolution in classrooms. Late last month, the University of Cincinnati Secular Student Alliance lead demonstrations in support of Planned Parenthood, and more plan to follow suit. Buxi Iacabone, a secular student from Ohio, was so disgusted by conservatives’ efforts to restrict access to reproductive health care that she has gone back to school so she can pursue medical school and become an abortion provider.
"The idea that anyone believes they can pick and choose what counts as healthcare and force people to justify their reproductive decisions is appalling," said Iacobone.