College-aged millennials today are far more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated. This is true when they are compared to previous generations as well.
In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that millennials are the least outwardly religious American generation, where “one in four are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29.”
Just over 60 percent of millennials say that Christianity is “judgmental,” and 64 percent say that “anti-gay” best describes most churches today.
In ministry circles, it has long been reported that of youth raised in homes that were to some degree “Christian,” roughly three-quarters will jettison that faith after high school. Just under half of this number will return to some level of church involvement in their late 20s or early 30s.
It has long been recognized that experience with an earthly father deeply informs the perspective about the heavenly father. In “How the West Really Lost God,” sociologist Mary Eberstadt correctly asserts, “The fortunes of religion rise or fall with the state of the family.”
Why is this? Our most recent research, which includes dozens of interviews with teens, twentysomethings, professed ex-Christians, and religion and culture experts, points to factors like these: