The millennial generation is less religious than any before it, and the Internet is probably responsible. That’s the conclusion of two separate recent reports.
Adam Lee, a writer for the Guardian (UK), cites research showing that:
In every region of the country, in every Christian denomination, membership is either stagnant or declining. Meanwhile, the number of religiously unaffiliated people – atheists, agnostics, those who are indifferent to religion, or those who follow no conventional faith – is growing. In some surprising places, these “nones” (as in “none of the above”) now rank among the largest slices of the demographic pie.
The reason is that the generation now coming of age, the “millennials”) are just not buying what the established churches have to offer.
The so-called millennials (Americans born between 1982 and 2000) are far more diverse, educated and tolerant than their predecessors. They’re also the least religious generation in American history – they’re even getting less religious as they get older, which is unprecedented – and the majority of them identify Christianity as synonymous with harsh political conservatism.
As older, more religious generations fade away and younger generations replace them, the societal midpoint shifts. And this trend is going to accelerate in coming years, because the millennial generation is big. They’re even bigger than the baby boomers.
(See Lee’s full article here.) And why is this happening, you ask? Amanda Marcotte on Alternet cites a study showing that increased Internet exposure probably has a lot to do with it. Religion traditionally thrives on keeping its adherents inside an information tunnel. The Internet makes it too easy for people to broaden their horizons. “The access to varied thought and debate the Internet provides is persuading people to drop their religions,” she writes. Details.