A large generational divide is developing on both belief in God and regular church attendance in the U.S., according to national survey data. Data shows that each generation has a lower church attendance rate than previous generations, but also shows that within each generation, church attendance remains relatively stable over the years.
For years, polls have shown that Americans have increasingly fallen away from organized religion and from religious belief in general. The growing demographic of non-believers is sometimes called the Nones, meaning those who mark “none” on surveys asking about their religious beliefs.
Who are the Nones and what missionary challenge do they represent for the Catholic Church? To better understand, we turned to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), a nationally representative survey which polls adults on a variety of topics about their lives, habits, and viewpoints.
Since 1988, the GSS has repeatedly asked respondents about their belief in God.
The percentage of Americans who agree with the statement “I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it” dropped from 63% in 1988 to 54% in 2018. Meanwhile, the percentage who say “I don’t believe in God” or “I don’t know whether there is a God and I don’t believe there is a way to find out” has increased from 5% to 12%.
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