Study: Generation X more loyal to religion

Aug 26, 2010

Generation X, the set of Americans who came of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is often branded as a rules-rejecting, authority-questioning group.

But when it comes to religion, new research has revealed that Gen-Xers are surprisingly loyal to their faith - a finding that also suggests the rising non-religious tide in the United States may be leveling off.

In a study published in the latest edition of The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Philip Schwadel showed that Gen-Xers are, in comparison with their Baby Boomer predecessors, far more likely to adhere to their religion. In fact, Boomers are 40 to 50 percent more likely than Gen-Xers to "disaffiliate" from their faith.

As continues to grow older, this loyalty may translate into a more stable nation in terms of its , he said.

Schwadel examined General Social Survey responses from more than 37,000 Americans from 1973 to 2006. Using age, period and cohort models, the research zoomed in on two aspects of U.S. religious behavior through the decades:

  • Non-affiliation, which is the total percentage of Americans not involved with any particular religion; and
  • Disaffiliation, which measures those who had a while they were but then had no affiliation at the time they were surveyed.
"The proportion of Americans with no religious affiliation doubled in the 1990s and has continued to rise in the 21st century," Schwadel said. "With the decline in religious disaffiliation among post-Boomer cohorts, it is possible that this growth in non-affiliation may soon level off."

Though Generation X's religious adherents are relatively durable, the generation as a whole is still more likely than previous ones to be raised with no religious preference, according to the research. Religious non-affiliation in the United States grew from between 6 percent and 8 percent in the 1970s and 1980s to nearly 16 percent by 2006.

Like previous researchers, Schwadel attributes this to the so-called "1960s effect" -- Americans who were children and young adults in the 1960s were disproportionately likely to disaffiliate with religion compared with previous generations. Consequently, many Boomers raised their Gen-X children in a non-religious environment.

Schwadel's research, however, shows that Gen-Xers are behaving differently than their parents. Although Gen-Xers are relatively likely to be raised with no religious affiliation, those who are raised with a religious affiliation are considerably less likely than their parents to separate from religion.

So why are religious members of Gen-X so much less likely to leave religion? For one, Schwadel said, the American religious scene is more dynamic and textured than it was when Baby Boomers were coming of age in the '60s and '70s, which has left the younger generation more choices. If they aren't happy with a particular religion, they can more easily find a substitute instead of falling away entirely.

"Social scientists have noted that what we call the 'religious marketplace' has greatly expanded in recent decades," Schwadel said. "Historically, it was thought that this religious pluralism was detrimental to the vitality of American religion. While many still hold this view, others suggest that more choices lead to greater religious affiliation and commitment."

The long-term impact of the decline in disaffiliation among post-Boomers remains to be seen, he said.

"While this trend is good news for those who worry about declining religious adherence, the Boomers' enmity toward organized religion is still evident in the relatively large proportion of their children and grandchildren who are raised with no religious affiliation," Schwadel said.

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croghan27
5 / 5 (4) Aug 26, 2010
"The proportion of Americans with no religious affiliation doubled in the 1990s and has continued to rise in the 21st century," Schwadel said. "With the decline in religious disaffiliation among post-Boomer cohorts, it is possible that this growth in non-affiliation may soon level off."

Is this a logical conclusion from the facts presented? "Belief in a religion is declining, therefore it will soon stop declining" ... major non sequitor there.
Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2010
I fived you too soon.

You need to read past that paragraph or include the title. The state is that Generation X, which are the descendants on the baby boomers are more religious. Being the younger generation, as Baby Boomers die off, it appears that America will become more religious stemming the rise of atheism over a generational timescale.

The problem here is they're counting ALL forms of theism, including deism and pantheism as part of "religion". They don't use the word, but they're speaking directly to delineated atheism.
croghan27
5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2010
Thanks for that, SH .. yet the line of: "it is possible" throws a wrench into the whole supposition for me .... it is not backed up by any concrete (in this case statistical) evidence .... just a 'shudda, coudda, woudda' supposition.

A bit too nebulous for me.
croghan27
not rated yet Aug 26, 2010
Hey ... no star system to rank the comments ....
marjon
1 / 5 (7) Aug 26, 2010
"Gen-Xers are behaving differently than their parents. "
They saw what lack of religion and morals have done in their lives with their baby-boomer parents.

It also seems that generations tend to act the opposite of a previous generation. Baby boomers were irresponsible while their parents were the opposite.

Now we see the greed in the boomers as they want to retire and demand everyone else pay for them.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2010
They saw what lack of religion and morals have done in their lives with their baby-boomer parents.
No, stop that. That isn't accurate.
It also seems that generations tend to act the opposite of a previous generation. Baby boomers were irresponsible while their parents were the opposite.
So the 1900's-1920's booze hounds who consumed an average of 5 gallons of hard liquor per month starting at age 9 through to death were more responsible than the peace loving hippies who never went through 2 world wars? Wow, talk about nostalgia for a lie.
Now we see the greed in the boomers as they want to retire and demand everyone else pay for them.
An act instituted by those very same booze hounds I was talking about. The ones you speak so highly of who implemented the progressive social programs that you hate so much.

Served.
croghan27
5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2010
Oh hello marjon - I wondered how long before you ended up here .... :)

I have to admit a bias to begin with here .... I feel that all the headlines about the Baby-bummers (sic) was just media generated.

I went to university in the 60s and the #1 club on campus was .... The Hockey club (it was Canada, eh?) the #2 was the football club ... (rugby actually) and #3 was the Conservative club. (The leader was a fellow with the unforgettable moniker of John Smith!)

While I was in no position to see with much perspective, my father could see little difference between the students of then and the students before .... not more, not less 'responsible'.

There will always be some people on the fringes ... in this they just generated good headlines ... (for doing what had been done for years before)
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2010
"They grew up seeing their parents laid off. Many of them have grown up as latch key children and in divorced family situations. Therefore time for their family is very important to them."
http://www.busine...genx.htm
croghan27
5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2010
At one time I did quite a bit of work developing a motivational system. That is a fairly standard text from my readings. Save that when I was doing it they contrasted the appropriate baby-boomer treatement with that of the 'traditional work place'.

I guess what I am trying to say that I cannot see a large step change in generations, even if I can see gradual movements.

I do not see a change in the movement away from 'tradional' religions - and I am not convinced it will happen by this ;study..

The children of the people that elected Eisenbower voted for Nixon, Ford and Reagan - this was a change??? (Well, I have more respect for Ike than all the last three put together.)

Does that make me a conservative?
rgwalther
5 / 5 (2) Aug 29, 2010
After six years of Catholic schools in the fifties and five years of Catholic seminary school in the sixties, I finally found a religion that I could grok. I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, the Utterly Indifferent. The worst thing about religion, other than allowing me to feel sorry for myself, is the number of truly intelligent and positive priests and nuns whose ability to function correctly was essentially destroyed by the evil, man-made doctrines to which these fine people were forced to be slaves. If you were not a slave to the doctrine, you were allowed neither the education nor the students.
The Catholic Church today reveals the results of mandatory slavery as a precondition to admittance.
xznofile
5 / 5 (3) Aug 29, 2010
It might also be because the connection between politics and religion (which effectively repulsed both the church and the republican party from credibility), has been made & is over. But the need for social connection goes on.
croghan27
5 / 5 (3) Aug 29, 2010
"After six years of Catholic schools in the fifties and five years of Catholic seminary school in the sixties"

rgwalther, old son ..... you, like me predate Gen X by just a bit - and so are are the 'control group' in this study rather than the subject of investigation.
jerryd
5 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
They just haven't had the time to see how bad religion is. After a while they will see that it's just a way to control people and get their money. They'll realize that god is just not hiding from them, but completely a made up myth. At least the ones who actually think.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
but completely a made up myth. At least the ones who actually think.

Myths are very powerful.
Obama was elected on a myth.
otto1932
not rated yet Sep 02, 2010
Gen-X......... X_I_A_N

"9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun." Ecc1

"often branded as a rules-rejecting, authority-questioning group." -Hey, just like the Nazarene-
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Sep 02, 2010
Myths are very powerful.
Obama was elected on a myth.

Yeah, there's a myth out there that has compelled people to waste sunday mornings for millenia.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
Myths are very powerful.
Obama was elected on a myth.

Yeah, there's a myth out there that has compelled people to waste sunday mornings for millenia.

That 'myth' has accomplished much for society.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
Myths are very powerful.
Obama was elected on a myth.

Yeah, there's a myth out there that has compelled people to waste sunday mornings for millenia.

All is heuristic.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Sep 03, 2010
That 'myth' has accomplished much for society.
Depends on how much you know about history. The more you know, the less helpful that myth has been.
otto1932
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2010
All is heuristic.
No its not.

"A heuristic method is used to come to a solution rapidly that is hoped to be close to the best possible answer, or 'optimal solution'."

-How can a myth hope to answer anything about reality? How can it give people answers to anything unless it can convince them it is the truth, when it is not?

"A heuristic is a "rule of thumb", an educated guess, an intuitive judgment or simply common sense. A heuristic is a general way of solving a problem. Heuristics as a noun is another name for heuristic methods."

-How can a myth be 'common sense' unless the myth is commonly accepted as truth, when is most obviously is not?

Your myth is not heuristic. Maybe you werent aware of what 'heuristic' means.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2010
All is heuristic.
No its not.

"A heuristic method is used to come to a solution rapidly that is hoped to be close to the best possible answer, or 'optimal solution'."

-How can a myth hope to answer anything about reality? How can it give people answers to anything unless it can convince them it is the truth, when it is not?

"A heuristic is a "rule of thumb", an educated guess, an intuitive judgment or simply common sense. A heuristic is a general way of solving a problem. Heuristics as a noun is another name for heuristic methods."

-How can a myth be 'common sense' unless the myth is commonly accepted as truth, when is most obviously is not?

Your myth is not heuristic. Maybe you werent aware of what 'heuristic' means.

That is your heuristic.
otto1932
not rated yet Sep 03, 2010
That is your heuristic.
'Heuristic' is not 'faith'. A heuristic is what works.

-For instance, maybe you have a need to trust somebody, and youve heard that born-again xians are trustworthy. Your heuristic might then involve baxians.

But we know that baxians cant be trusted to decide what to teach kids in school, or what scientific inquiry to conduct. So you may have to conclude that baxians can only be trusted if you yourself are baxian.

Your myth can only serve as part of a heuristic when most everyone you need to deal with believes in the myth. When a fair portion of the people are unbelievers then the myth becomes null and void and the heuristic cannot function anymore. You spend most of your time arguing and preaching rather than solving problems and getting anywhere, or understanding anything.

Your heuristic becomes dysfunctional or 'anheuristical'. Hope this helps.
otto1932
not rated yet Sep 03, 2010
The word 'anheurism' in popular usage:

"An anheurism feels like the worst headache you ever had and totally debilitates you and most people die from it. 2 years ago ..."

"Anheuristic slot assignment scheme, namely delay-sensitive slot assignment (DSSA),is proposed in [53]. DSSA is capable of fully utilizing a limited number ..."

"Credibility of abducible multiple causes of observed effects
by A Arigoni - 1987 -
On the other hand, being among our final purposes achieving anheuristic procedure in which probabilistic data are sobstituted by possibilistic ..."

"Walt Whitman, From New York . . . to Novi Sad - Blog Archive ...
Nov 22, 2002 ... His end was sudden and quick, the result of a brain anheurism and, undoubtedly, more than a lifetime of trauma and hard work. ..."

-And frajo thinks I dont know english...
croghan27
not rated yet Sep 04, 2010
but completely a made up myth. At least the ones who actually think.

Myths are very powerful.
Obama was elected on a myth.


Indeed - Obama was running against another myth, that McCain was a 'rebel', when any (not even close) inspection of his history shows he was, is, and will continue to be subservient to any status quo.

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