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White Christians turning into “Nones”

White Christians turning into “Nones”

A look at religion affiliation by age and ethnic groups in the US show that most groups remain pretty static in terms of their religious affiliation,except among whites: among older whites, evangelical, mainline and Catholics go from 69% of those over 65 but only 25% among those 18 – 29 years old.

Mark Silk at Spiritual Politics

The news is that white evangelicals, mainliners, and Catholics go from 69 percent of those 65 and older to 25 percent of those 18 to 29. And the “unaffiliated” — i.e. those who say they have no religion — go from 11 percent of the over-65′s to 31 percent of the 18-29′s.

All other groups more or less hold their proportional positions except for Latino Catholics and Protestants, who go from six percent of the over-65′s to 17 percent of the 18-29′s.

There are some important political implications here. White evangelicals vote roughly 3-1 Republican, while Nones vote roughly 3-1 Democratic. And by generational cohort, the percentage of white evangelicals is inversely proportional to the percentage of Nones in the population. Assuming that generational political identification doesn’t change, the Nones will in due course have the throw-weight for the Democrats that the evangelicals have had for the Republicans over the past generation.

Add Mormons to the white evangelicals, mainliners, and Catholics and you get 71 percent of the over-65′s in majority-Republican ethno-religious traditions. Add up everyone else (except the two percent who won’t say or don’t know) and you get 70 percent in majority-Democratic ethno-religious traditions.

Religion-by-Generation.jpg

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Ceryle Alcyon

Keep in mind, though, that people’s religious beliefs do change throughout their lives, and that “none” is not necessarily the inevitable end-state. I realize now that I myself was away from the church during the period between 18 and 29, as a result of a bad, alienating experience with–you guessed it–white evangelicals. The Christianity I grew up with–mostly mainline, but tainted by destructive right-wing fundamentalism–is very different from the faith I have now, as an Episcopalian. (JC Fisher, I heartily agree with you that most of the “Nones” I know, including my dear husband, a lifelong atheist, seem better at being Christlike than most white evangelicals ever will be–such a sad happenstance.)

Currently, I participate in an online discussion forum with others who have had similar (or worse) experiences, the majority of whom are currently in that age group. Although most consider themselves atheist or agnostic, and a significant minority are now exploring other world religions (Buddhism is apparently a big draw), some of us did return, after a time, to Christianity–“safer,” more progressive and mainline churches or more “high-church” traditions such as Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Eastern Orthodoxy.

It might be worth considering that this period is one in which young adults are still working on constructing an identity and, like me, may seek a place to belong spiritually as they move into the next age bracket (30-49). For that reason, I think it’s a demographic worth watching.

tgflux

There’s a part of me that’s sad about this (esp since Mainline Christians are included among that fading-away cohort).

But inasmuch as “Nones” *generally* have more Christ-like values than the other group (i.e., is there any group w/ LESS Christ-like values than White Evangelicals? :-X ), I have to say: Here’s to the Future!

JC Fisher

John B. Chilton

The graph is from the March 2013 report on PRRI’s poll of 5000 persons about immigration and religious values:

http://publicreligion.org/research/2013/03/2013-religion-values-immigration-survey/

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