Millennials' Religious Doubts Double, Causing Campus Atheism Boom
Columbus, OH - Unlike other demographics, Americans 30 and under are doubting God more than ever before - and organized atheism on campus is reaping the benefits. The PEW Research Center released a new survey last week finding that the percent of Millennials reporting doubts about the existence of God has doubled in five years, from 15% in 2007 to 31% today. No other generation saw a change larger than 2%. The Secular Student Alliance, a national nonprofit which helps organize and support nonreligious students, has boomed in the time period.
"Our generation is causing a fundamental shift in how society will see religion," said Jesse Galef, the Secular Student Alliance Communications Director. "The internet has exposed young people to different worldviews, and they're carrying their newfound skepticism onto campus to organize."
The Secular Student Alliance has exploded with growth, outpacing the larger trend of doubt. The organization has increased fourfold since this time 2007, from 81 campus groups then to 357 today. They expect the trend to continue, not slow down.
"We're creating a ripple effect through our culture," continued Galef. "The more safe places we create for young people to discuss their doubts, the more they can inspire questions in others."
The question itself is part of the larger, ongoing Pew Research Center Values Study. Participants over the years are asked whether they agree with the statement "I never doubt the existence of God." Millennials - classified as those born after 1981 - reported disagreeing with the statement 31% of the time. This is the highest response ever found in this 25-year report.
Other generations have remained fairly stable in their level of doubt over the years. The next highest generation, Gen-Xers born between 1965 and 1980, disagreed 17% of the time, up only 1 percent from 2007.
Previous surveys including the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey had indicated that younger generations were less likely to self-identify with religion. The American Values Survey is different in that it sheds light on beliefs rather than affiliation with a particular religion.
More information can be found at http://www.people-press.org/values-questions/q41d/#generation