The latest Pew Research report looks at differences in American political views across various demographic splits. One of the sub-themes of the study asked questions about faith, which raises some interesting differences between younger Americans and older ones. According to the report:
- Nearly 70% of Millennials say they never doubt the existence of God (68%, down 15 points since 2007).
- Over the past five years, older generations’ belief in God has remained stable.
- There’s a 21 percent gap between the oldest generation and Millenials in terms of expressing doubt; 89% of the “Silent generation” says they never doubt God’s existence.
- Belief in the importance of prayer (as an important part of daily life, 64 percent agree) and in a “judgment day” (67 percent agree) have remained stable for Millennials across the past five years. Over half of Millennials agree with all three religious values (as opposed to over two thirds of older generations).
These statistics are just a brief picture. But while some see them as a drop in the religious beliefs of Millennials, I still feel like these percentages are incredibly high all the way around. Among white evangelical protestants, 99% say they never doubt God’s existence.
As we learned in our Sticky Faith research, doubt is part of most faith journeys. In fact, it seems that it’s not doubt itself that is toxic to faith, but doubt that goes unexpressed. When we don’t help young people feel safe enough to ask the questions that are creeping into their hearts, those questions tend to either fester and grow or get shoved down into silence.
It makes me wonder about the respondents to these recent surveys. Have they truly never doubted God, or have they never felt like they could share those doubts?
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