Poll: Most young people say religion isn't 'very important' in their lives

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A new survey finds that Americans are becoming less religious, with the majority of the downward shift observed in younger generations.

The Pew Research Center polled approximately 35,000 in the United States to see whether they participate in a variety of practices associated with faith. The resulting 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that 89% of respondents say they believe in God, 55% say they pray daily, 53% say that religion is "very important" in their lives, and 50% say they attend services at least monthly.


Each of those percentages marks a decline since 2007, the first time the study was published. That decline was observed to be even greater among young Americans. Only 44% of respondents born between 1981 and 1989 said that religion is "very important" in their lives; only 38% of respondents born between 1990 and 1996 said the same.


Although older respondents were significantly more likely to say that religion is "very important" in their lives, there is reason to believe that people become more religious as they age.

"Looking at differences [in faith] among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most often occur among those 58 years of age and older," Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey of the social science research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, wrote in 2012. "This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality."

Belief is God in the U.S. is still "remarkably high" when looked at in relation to comparable "industrial" nations, Pew notes. But the marked decrease in religious practice is due, in large part, to an increasing population of "nones"—the research center's term for adults who self-identify as atheist, agnostic, or "nothing in particular."

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