A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute highlights an interesting trend that predicts religious progressives will far outpace religious conservatives in the future. The research tracked four generations of Americans and surveyed them on their religious and political affiliations. While people who consider themselves non-religious have more than doubled over four generations, 78% of millennials (18- to 33-year-olds) still consider themselves religious. And within that group, religious conservativism has dropped nearly 300% across the four generations, while religious progressivism has doubled.
Considering the real and symbolic power of the religious right in America, these trends might cast some doubts upon just how much longer that political paradigm will hold, and whether religious groups might align themselves with more progressive causes going forward. It doesn’t seem that far fetched, considering that the tenants of Christianity seem to support progressive causes, like providing healthcare and social welfare.
But does the evidence actually point to a larger trend toward progressivism among Christians, or does the generational gap also suggest that millennials might bend more conservative in the future? Or are times really changing, and will we see a real shift in religious politics in the future?
Robert Jones, Founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute
Morley Winograd, Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. Co-author of Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America