One of the many differences separating generations from those that precede and follow them is each generation’s adherence to and belief in religion.
Recent surveys reveal that one in five adults in America currently do not claim any religious affiliation. Compare that to Millennials, or adults between ages 18 and 33, and the number drops to an even lower one in three claiming religious affiliation.
While this information supports a trend that has long been recognized, a new study points out why some of the younger generation has strayed from religion.
It appears that as support for LGBT rights rises, the number of adults claiming religious affiliation sees a correlating decrease.
Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released a survey on Wednesday that indicated that “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” related to gays and lesbians played an extremely significant role in Millennials’ decision to leave organized religion.
In fact, this was the very reason claimed by one third of Millennials who have left the faith they grew up with.
The survey specifies that 17 percent of Millennials considered LGBT issues “somewhat important” to their decisions to leave religion; 14 percent classified LGBT issues as “very important” factors.
According to 58 percent of Americans, religious groups are “alienating young adults by being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues.” This number pales when compared to rates amongst Millennials, amongst whom that percentage jumps up to an even higher 70 percent.
Thus, it appears that if religion is to maintain or regain appeal with younger adults, religious organizations will have to reconsider their stances on LGBT rights.
“While many churches and people in the pews have been moving away from their opposition to LGBT rights over the last decade, this new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,” said PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones.
Indeed, in comparing survey results from several polling groups since 2003, PRRI found that support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage has been generally increasing, not only along generational lines, but also across religious and political lines.