A survey released this fall by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found 32% of those under age 30 claim no religious identity.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research agency, analyzed Protestant trends from 1972 to 2010 in data collected by the General Social Survey, a biannual survey from the National Opinion Research Center.
When he looked at young adults ages 23 to 35 — an age group that is often away from their parents’ influence and the cocoon of college — he found that during those 38 years:
- Mainline Protestant numbers dove from 24% to 6% and their worship attendance slid from more than 4% to less than 2%.
- Black Protestants held steady in number, less than 10%, and their worship attendance did, as well, at about 2%.
- Young evangelicals rose in number, up from about 21% to 25%. But only about 9% attended church at least once a week in 2010, up from about 7.5% in 1972.