MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — America is a less Christian country than it was just a few years ago.
In 2007, more than 78 percent of citizens identified as Christian. That number fell to 70 percent in last year’s survey.
That’s a drop of nearly 8 percent in less than a decade.
The Pew Research Center’s survey reveals a significant decline, especially among millennials and college-aged students.
University of Minnesota Religious Studies Program Director Jeanne Kilde says while college is a time for exploration, past trends show most people find their way back to religion.
“In the late 20s you’d see people moving back to the church, people going to church, because they were having children and wanted to raise children in the church,” she said.
Not the case anymore, according to the Pew survey.
People of all ages and incomes were among those who chose not to affiliate. Results for Minnesotans fell in line with national results.
Most notably among Catholics: There’s a 6 percent drop since 2007.
Meanwhile, there’s significant growth – 7 percent – in people who don’t affiliate with any religion.
While it’s hard to understand exactly why the shift is happening, Kilde says alternatives to religion are becoming more socially acceptable than they were just a couple of decades ago.
“We have recently had a vocal nones movement,” Klide said. “N-O-N-E-S, people with no religious affiliation. We’ve had a vocal atheist movement as well.”
Kilde also says social networking has become a lot easier for people with resources like social media and the internet, so people may not be reliant on a church setting or an organized religion as much for social outlets or feelings of community.
As for differences across the country, the drop in people calling themselves Christians seemed consistent across the board, even in the Bible Belt south.