DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A quarter of Americans do not belong to any religion, and the majority are young people aged 18–29, according to a new study.
On September 22 the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released a study titled "Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion — and Why They're Unlikely to Come Back."
The study notes that the number of unaffiliated Americans ("nones") has been steadily rising since 2000. In 1991, only six percent identify as "nones" while the amount jumped to 14 percent by the end of the decade, with the number increasing to 20 percent by 2012. That percentage has jumped higher just over three years later to 25 percent.
Nearly 40 percent of "nones" are young adults aged 18–29, a threefold increase since 1986.
The vast number — over 80 percent — were raised in a household that identified with a religion. Over 60 percent said they disavowed the religion of their childhood before they reached their 18th birthday.
Nearly 40 percent of young adults aged 18–29 say they left their religion because of "negative" teachings against LGBT people. Of those who were raised Catholic, nearly 40 percent left the Church because of its teaching on homosexuality.
The report indicates that of all major religious groups in the United States, the Catholic Church has the most who are leaving. Thirty-one percent of Americans report being raised in a Catholic household, but only 21 percent currently consider themselves Catholic.
The vast majority of "nones" — nearly 70 percent — believe the practice of religion to be negative, causing "more problems in society than it solves." The same number also agree that children can be brought up with good values without practicing religion. Almost 80 percent profess that belief in God is unnecessary for a person to have good moral values, while 61 percent of them strongly reject the idea.
Researchers note that over 70 percent of self-identified "nones" say they do not spend any time thinking about God or religion. Despite that, 60 percent believe God is either an "impersonal force" or a person with Whom one can have a relationship. Although the majority believe in at least some kind of god, a full 93 percent are not looking to join any religion.
The study also mentions that children raised by divorced parents are more likely to become "nones," as are those raised in a household where the parents have different religions. It also notes that 60 percent of children raised Catholic by only one parent leave the Faith as an adult. It further notes that 60 percent of those raised in a Catholic household by two Catholic parents stay in the Church as adults.
Over the last 20 years the number of people leaving religion in general has been increasing, most especially with regard to the Catholic Church.