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For the last couple of decades, the number of "religious nones," people who don't identify themselves with any religion, has been growing very fast. They have been the fastest-growing religious demographic in America and both Millennials and members of Generation Z have been steering away from religion. For example only 10% of people from the silent generation (born 1928-1945) declare themselves as religiously unaffiliated. The percentage rises to 40% when it comes to Millennials (born 1981-1996). But now there is new data suggesting that this decline of religion might be slowing down and eventually, maybe, even reversing its course.
This February, three political scientists, who study religion and religious topics, have raised the possibility that there is no more increase in the number of religiously unaffiliated people in America. They compared some recent surveys and found out that Generation Z (born after 1996) don't look any less religious than Millennials, the generation that came before.
The initial suggestion that the decline of religion is slowing down came from Melissa Deckman, a political scientist of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. She interviewed Americans age 18-23 asking them questions about their religious affiliation and do they attend religious services and how often. When she compared results of those interviews with a 2016 Public Religion Research Institute survey, she found out that there is the same number of those who consider themselves to have no religion in her study of Generation Z and among older Millennials (38%). “Up to this point there’s been a very fast drop-off, especially among younger people,” Deckman said, as Religion News Service reports. “It seems to have slowed somewhat.”
Deckman's results were somehow checked by two other political scientists, Paul Djupe, a professor at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and Ryan Burge. They looked at other datasets and results of other surveys and studies; like the 2018 General Social Survey, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study and a Voter Study Group. Djupe and Burge found out that Deckman's thesis about slowing rates of decline of religion among Generation Z can be true. “I was just shocked to see it,” said Paul Djupe, according to Religion News Service. “Everything led me to expect that (the number of nones) would keep increasing for a while.”
The results of analyzing the Generation Z still can't be used as a 100%-correct indicator of a trend. Members of Generation Z are still young and the things could still change as they age away from their parents. Maybe this is just some temporary stand by, but those results are interesting and should be followed up further, in the future.