Over the past few weeks, I have focused on family dynamics, and the declining relationship between teenagers and adults is generationally changing family dynamics. Since 1972, there has been a 9% rise in interfaith marriages and a 13% increase in secular marriages. Interfaith marriages are when spouses identify as part of different religions, or one is religious, and the other is not. A secular marriage is when both partners have no religious affiliation. Interfaith and secular marriages are adding to the issue of religious decline because they are far less likely to attend service or practice their faith (1). Thirty-eight percent of Americans who attended weekly religious services growing up still go to church weekly, as only 23% of those who went once or twice a month and 16% who seldom or never went (2). As the numbers show, Americans with religious roots in their childhood are more likely to be religious later in life.
However, this does not mean that secular or interfaith marriages are wrong or harmful. That is not what I am trying to argue. Although they both lead to lower religiosity, there are more factors. Americans are abandoning their such for lack of trust, the rise of technology, and institutional scandals.
A survey conducted by Pew Research found that among 76% of religious Americans, religion’s role in their life is less important than in the past. This is specifically true for Christians. As of 2018, 65% of Americans identify as Christian, which is down 12% from the previous decade (3). As Christians lose numbers in the United States, religious “nones” grow rapidly. Technology also plays a factor, especially in the wake of Covid-19. The internet and social media expose kids and young adults to different ideas and beliefs they previously were unaware of. Religious institutions also use technology. In my experience, my local Catholic Parish did not have in-person masses; instead, they shifted to online ones. Although it was an attempt to keep the community, the online experience vastly differed from in-person worship. The primary issue with online worship was the lack of human interaction. Without direct human interaction, worship felt more distant. For me and for many of my friends who previously attended church weekly, the pandemic affected our attendance and still does.
So far, I have found family dynamics alongside technology, lack of trust, and institutional scandals as reasons for the decline among youths and young adults. It often boils down to how parents raise their kids and if they instill religious values. People who attend services as children are much more likely to later in life, and as parents no longer participate in religious services, their kids also miss out.
Author: Liam Adamczyk
(1) American Survey Center: Emerging Trends and Enduring Patterns in American Family Life
(2) Gallup: In U.S., Childhood Churchgoing Habits Fade in Adulthood
(3) Pew Research: In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace