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The faith of the next generation

For years, religious leaders in the U.S. have raised concerns about the rise of the “nones” – people who profess to adhere to no faith tradition.

Among American adults under 30, “none” significantly outranks Protestants and Catholics as a religious affiliation.

There’s a certain conventional wisdom that young people often fall away from the Church for a time, but return as they become older.

But the data suggests otherwise.

Large continuing surveys like the General Social Survey (GSS) – which has asked samples of Americans questions about their lives and beliefs since 1972 – show that each recent generation has a fairly stable level of religious belief and practice after reaching adulthood. 

Younger generations of Americans are simply less religious than their parents and grandparents – and significantly so.

What does that mean for evangelization? When it comes to retaining members, how do Catholics compare to Protestants?

And what can Catholic leaders learn from statistics about the future of the Church?

The Pillar took a look at the numbers.

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