1 Kings 19:18:
“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
Religion and faith is having less of an influence on people’s lives, especially the young, according to new research.
The US study claims that millennials – recent teenagers – are the least religious generation of the last six decades and possibly in the nation’s history.
It said recent adolescents are less likely to say that religion is important in their lives and spend less time praying or meditating – and future generations are likely be even less religious.
Researchers led by psychology professor Jean Twenge from San Diego State University analysed data from 11.2 million respondents from four nationally representative surveys of US adolescents aged 13 to 18 taken between 1966 and 2014.
They found that millennials, also known as Generation Y, are less likely to belong to a religious group, or say that faith plays an important role in their daily lives.
‘Unlike previous studies, ours is able to show that millennials’ lower religious involvement is due to cultural change, not to millennials being young and unsettled,’ said Professor Twenge, who is also the author of Generation Me.
‘Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenX’ers were at the same age.
‘We also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today’s adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all.’
The researchers said the study may be the largest ever conducted on changes in Americans’ religious involvement.
Compared to the late 1970s, twice as many 12 graders (17 to 18 year olds) and college students never go to religious services, according to the study, published in the Plos One journal.
And 75 per cent more of this age group said religion is ‘not important at all’ in their lives, than in the 70s.
Compared to the early 1980s, twice as many high school seniors and three times as many college students in the 2010s answered ‘none’ when asked their religion.
And 20 per cent fewer college students described themselves as ‘above average’ in spirituality compared with the 1990s, suggesting that religion has not been replaced with spirituality.
‘These trends are part of a larger cultural context, a context that is often missing in polls about religion,’ Professor Twenge said.
‘One context is rising individualism in US culture. Individualism puts the self-first, which doesn’t always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires.
‘As Americans become more individualistic, it makes sense that fewer would commit to religion.’
Similarly, in 2013, psychologist Dr Nigel Barber said religious people in many developed countries will be a minority by 2041.
A study into the beliefs of people in 137 countries, which forms the basis for his book, found atheism increases in more developed places as people become increasingly materially rich.
The book, called ‘Why atheism will replace religion,’ proposes that people do not have to rely on supernatural influences when material possessions are catering to their needs.
Religion declines not only because people are becoming richer, but also due to the increasing quality of life, decline of serious diseases, better education and welfare states, the author said.
He believes there is less demand for religion in societies such as Japan and Sweden where normal people are relatively comfortable and consequently the majority of the populations are already secular.
However, a survey released in April claims two thirds of people across the world consider themselves to be religious and the number is expected to grow.
The Win/Gallup International Association study claims people under the age of 34 around the world are actually more religious than older generations.
Another study by the Pew Research Centre, released two years ago, showed the percentage of atheists across the globe is expected to fall across the same time frame, while Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2070.
It predicted Islam will become America’s second largest religion by 2050 and the number of Christians in the US will decline from three quarters of the population in 2010 to two thirds in 2050.
At the same time, those who do not affiliate with any religion, including atheists and agnostics, will make up a ‘declining share of the world’s population’ – even if their numbers are increasing in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France.
A map created by Razzmazz shows the status of the world’s faiths in 35 years’ time, and how the percentage of those that consider themselves ‘religiously unaffiliated’ is expected to increase in the West.
By 2050 in Europe, Muslims will make up one in ten of the overall population. The region’s Christian population will shrink from 553 million to 454 million, according to projections.