BERKELEY, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) – No religious affiliation? No problem.
A new study from UC Berkeley sociologists has found that religious affiliation is currently at its low point in U.S. history since religious affiliation began to be tracked in the 1930s.
The study, which was overseen by UC Berkeley sociologists Michael Hout and Claude Fischer, found that the biggest decline has come from college-aged people. In 1990, just 9.7 percent of people polled between the ages of 18 and 24 claimed no religious affiliation. In 2012, that percentage ballooned to 32 percent, according to data the researchers collected from the General Social Survey.
“The younger and more educated people are less and less dependent on religion for their sense of being,” history professor David Hollinger told the Daily Californian.
Some of the numbers give clues as to where religious affiliation is dropping off the most. According to the study, respondents claiming “no religious” spiked from 8 percent to almost 20 percent. The percentage of people having identified themselves as Catholics more than 20 years ago has dipped from 35 percent to 24 percent. The survey, funded by the National Science Foundation, also found that close to 40 percent of liberals claimed no religious affiliation. Their conservative counterparts came in at just around 9 percent.
The drop in young people is a peculiar one, as college-aged people often create a strict divide between religion and science that cannot be altered in later years.
“What’s unfortunate is the Church has said this questioning is off-limits and that God is truth, and you can’t question truth,” Ron Pickell, pastor at Berkeley Seventh Day Adventist Church, told the Daily Californian. “If students have grown up with a view of God and religion that doesn’t allow for elasticity — if they can’t use their heart and their mind in relating to religion — then at some point God doesn’t make sense, and they go with their mind.”