Looking to 2021 and beyond — GetReligion

Is the rise of no accelerating equally across all generational cohorts, or is it occurring only among the youngest Americans? The answer is a bit nuanced. The graph above visualizes the share of no votes in 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2021 for each of the five generations mentioned above.

While only 12% of Silents were no in 2008, that figure has risen by 50% to 18% today. For baby boomers, the increase was 17% to 26%. Gen X has grown from a quarter of no’s in 2008 to 36% in 2021. It’s worth pointing out that there is a larger share of Gen X’s no’s in 2021 than there were no’s of millennials in 2008. But for each of these three generations mentioned earlier, there has been a steady increase, although this increase seems to have slowed considerably between 2016 and 2021.

For Millennials, this is not the case. A third of them were no in 2008. This jumped by four percentage points in 2012, but rose only one point to 38% between 2012 and 2016. This was a point increase in just five years.

This same general trend is evident among members of Gen Z. The first time they appeared in the polls was in 2016, when thirty-nine percent were zero. This increased by six percentage points by 2020, then increased another three points between 2020 and 2021. Today, nearly half of Gen Z say they have no religious affiliation.

However, there is also a finding in the data that seems to go against the trend described earlier. When looking at each generation through the lens of religious service attendance, it would be reasonable to assume that younger generations are less likely to attend religious services than older Americans. But, that is not exactly the case.

When it comes to which generation is most absent from the cult, it’s not Gen Z, it’s Gen Y and Gen X.

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