Growing numbers of ‘millennials’ who are unaffiliated or atheists are causing vast changes in the American religious landscape, report says
Declining levels of religious belief and practice among the generation of Americans born in the last two decades of the 20th century is shifting the US towards becoming a less devout nation, a major new survey has found.
The growing proportion of “millennials” – young adults now in their 20s and 30s – who do not belong to any organised faith is changing America’s religious landscape, says a report by the respected Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 35,000 people.
The religiously unaffiliated or “nones”, who include atheists and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular”, have grown to 23% of the US population, compared to 16% at the time of the last comparable survey in 2007.
But three out of four Americans still have some religious faith, mainly Protestant denominations, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. And 89% of US adults say they believe in God – including a significant proportion of “nones” – making America more religiously inclined than other advanced industrial nations.
Youth largely equates with a lack of religious activity, says the report. One in four millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with more than half of those adults born before or during the second world war. Only 38% of adults born after 1990 say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 67% of those born before 1945.
Overall, 55% of American adults say they pray daily, 53% say religion is very important in their lives and 50% attend a religious service at least once a month. Significantly, more women (64%) pray on a daily basis than men (46%).
(3 min) TV-PG It’s one of America’s favorite holidays, but what’s the real story behind the tricks and treats of Halloween?
Bill Maher and panelists Ron Reagan, John Cleese, S.E. Cupp discuss the Pope’s visit to the United States and the conservative backlash to his message.
Francis stands firm amid a tide of Donald Trump-fuelled xenophobia in the presidential campaign but pontiff challenges some progressive views
Pope Francis has channelled the spirit of America’s founding fathers to make an impassioned embrace of immigrants and cultural diversity, insisting that newcomers to the United States must not be ashamed of their traditions.
Speaking on Saturday from the Philadelphia hall where rebels gathered in 1776 to assert their freedom from Britain, the pontiff told a crowd of thousands that immigrants brought “gifts” which helped to “renew” the US.
“I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to your new nation,” the pope said before an estimated 24,000 people gathered at Independence Hall. “You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land.”
It was a strong rebuff to the Donald Trump-fuelled xenophobia roiling conservatives on the presidential campaign trail, and stalling immigration reform efforts in Washington.
While declining to fully indulge conservatives on issues across the spectrum of the modern US culture wars, the pontiff also challenged some progressive views by denouncing discrimination against religion and making a veiled criticism of abortion.
“Religious freedom certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate,” Francis said. “But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.”
When Pope Francis sets foot on American soil this week, he will be visiting a Catholic community that wields vast influence on account of its size, wealth and political power. But he will also be confronting a flock increasingly divided on the direction he is taking the Catholic Church.
The pontiff’s six days in the U.S., a country he has never visited, could prove a decisive moment for a papacy that is already splitting the faithful on everything from divorce to global warming.
The enormous attention the trip is drawing and the high-powered events on his agenda—an address before Congress, a visit to the White House and a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, among others—will offer an unparalleled opportunity for the pope to deliver his message to the Catholic flock and the world at large.
Pope Francis is making for his first trip to the U.S. as the Holy Father from September 22 to 27. He’ll make stops in Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia. How will he be spending those six days? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
The stakes are high. If the pope lays the emphasis on his social agenda and his efforts to draw fallen-away Catholics back into the fold, he might appeal to a younger generation that is key to revitalizing the church. But he then risks demoralizing and alienating a core of believers who have remained stalwarts and have sustained the church during half a century of upheaval.
According to Marco Politi, author of “Pope Francis Among the Wolves,” the trip is crucial because of the influence the U.S. has on issues the pope is prioritizing, from the environment to human trafficking. But it also matters because the pope will be meeting with a “divided church,” where conservative bishops and lay people are resisting his liberalizing moves on family issues.
“The trip is important inside and out,” says Mr. Politi.
The arrest of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, who was treated as a threat by his own school and police for bringing in an electronic clock he’d made as an engineering project, was not an isolated event. This was completely in line with a problem that has been growing over the past year: Islamophobia, which is the fear-based hatred of Muslims, is out of control in American society.
To understand why a Texas school would arrest a 14-year-old student for bringing in a homemade clock, it helps to understand what came before: the TV news hosts who declare Muslims “unusually barbaric,” the politicians who gin up fear of Islam, the blockbuster film that depicts even Muslim children as dangerous threats, and the wave of hatred against Muslims that has culminated several times in violence so severe that what happened to Mohamed, while terrible, appears unsurprising and almost normal within the context of ever-worsening American Islamophobia.
Many Americans might be totally unaware this is happening, even though they are surrounded by Islamophobia: on TV, at airport security, in our pop culture and our politics, and inevitably in our schools. Perhaps, then, Mohamed’s arrest will be a wake-up call.
Even just in greater Dallas, 2015 has been a year of Islamophobia
American Islamophobia has grown so severe that, even looking just at the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Mohamed’s Dallas suburb, one can see, in broad daylight, the climate of hostility and fear America’s 2.6 million Muslims have been made to live in.
The trouble began in January, when American Muslim families did what is increasingly expected of them, what American media and politicians demand of Muslims every time there is a terrorist attack: They gathered to formally condemn violent extremism and to cultivate positive ties with their local communities. They did this by organizing an event in the suburb of Garland called “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate,” to raise money for a center dedicated to promoting tolerance.
In response, thousands of protesters mobbed the event, waving anti-Muslim signs and American flags for hours, forcing local Muslim families who attended to endure a gauntlet of hate. “We don’t want them here,” a woman at the protests told a local TV reporter. One man explained, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.” They were not grateful that local Muslim-Americans had taken it upon themselves to combat extremism, but rather outraged that Muslims-Americans would dare to gather publicly at all.
A few weeks later, in early March, an Iraqi man who had just fled the Middle East to join his wife in Dallas stood outside their apartment photographing the first snow he’d ever seen when two men walked up and shot him to death. Police later ruled out the possibility that it had been a hate crime, but the murder drove home the fear among many Muslim-American families that they were unsafe.