Millennials are abandoning religion in numbers not seen in any other generation in modern history, according to a long-form piece on the subject by FiveThirtyEight.
According to the study by Pew Research, four out of ten millennials “now say they are religiously unaffiliated,” and just as many millennials are as likely to identify as having no religion as they are with Christianity. The study recognizes millennials as those currently between the age of 23 and 38.
Initial theories suggested that millennials were simply going through a phase in their youth that resulted in the increase in no religious affiliations, and that many of them would return to church at a certain age. However, while millennials have been returning to other traditions such as marriage and children at a later age than preceding generations, many of those older millennials still have stayed out of church.
This could be explained by the fact that a significant portion of today’s millennials were not raised in religious households; according to an additional study on the subject by the American Enterprise Institute, 17 percent of millennials were raised in non-religious households. Thus, at least these 17 percent were always unlikely to eventually convert to a religion due to never having any experience with it in the first place.
Another key factor is the rise in relationships and marriages that involve one partner who is not religious. A staggering 74 percent of millennials “have a nonreligious partner or spouse,” whereas a mere 26 percent are in a relationship with a religious partner. One partner being nonreligious is likely to result in no particular religious affiliation for the overall relationship, and subsequently any children that the couple may have.