The Baby Boomer generation’s fabled relationship with religious institutions hasn’t exactly been hand-in-glove – more suspicion than participation, or so the story goes.
Even so, The New York Times notes, research finds potential pairing between the increase of age and the increase of faith.
Academics and pastors alike have long known that as people get older, they tend to become more religious, and it turns out that boomers are no exception. A survey conducted by Gallup in 2010 found that people ages 50 to 64 were more likely to say they frequently went to church, temple or mosque than those 18 to 29 did. The figures were 43 percent versus 35 percent, and for the group containing the oldest segment of the baby boom population – 65 and up – the figure was 53 percent.
More to the point, when pollsters looked at how often baby boomers said they went to church now and compared that with what they said when they were younger, they found a difference, said Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief, who has a book coming out about religion. “They were less religious, that group, 20 years ago than they are now,” he said.
What about the fact that age increases awareness of death, and that folks may be looking for a little more peace or understanding?
“They have all been through it, or are in the middle of it,” [Wade Clark Roof, a professor of religion and society at the University of California, Santa Barbara] said. “Their parents are dying off. So the reality of mortality has hit them. When they were young, they thought they would live forever. But they know better now.”