Study: Americans Pray Less, Still Believe In Heaven


A new study shows that Americans pray less, but still believe in an afterlife such as heaven.

The study researchers, led by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, found that Americans hit an all-time low in praying and belief in God in 2014.

“Most previous studies concluded that fewer Americans were publicly affiliating with a religion, but that Americans were just as religious in private ways,” Twenge said, according to the SDSU NewsCenter. "That’s no longer the case, especially in the last few years.

“The large declines in religious practice among young adults are also further evidence that millennials are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history."

Twenge's research team studied data generated by 58,893 people in the General Social Survey from 1972 to 2014, and published the results in the journal Sage Open on March 23.

According to the study, five times as many Americans in 2014 said they never prayed, and nearly twice as many said they didn't believe in God, compared to those who were surveyed in the early 1980s.

Twenty-six percent of those surveyed in 2014 said they never attend religious services, 21 percent have no religion and 15 percent never pray, according to Vocativ. Thirty-six percent of the iGen generation (18- to 22-year-olds) said in 2014 that they had no religious affiliation, and 28 percent said they never pray.

“This suggests that iGen will continue the decrease in religious orientation rather than reversing it, even in spirituality,” the authors wrote, according to Vocativ.

While religious belief decreased and there was no increase in spirituality, there was a slight increase in belief of an afterlife.

"It was interesting that fewer people participated in religion or prayed but more believed in an afterlife,” Twenge said. “It might be part of a growing entitlement mentality -- thinking you can get something for nothing.”

Sources: San Diego State University, Vocativ / Photo Credit: Kotivalo/Wikimedia Commons

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