By Aaron Earls
Not only are they not showing up for services, a growing number of millennials believe churches are bad for society.
Since 2010, millennials’ view of churches and other religious organizations as having a positive effect on the country has fallen 18 percentage points, according to Pew Research.
In 2015, 55 percent of young adults believed churches have a positive impact on the country compared with 73 percent five years ago.
The drop among millennials comes when other generations view churches more positively. In 2010, millennials had the highest view of churches. Today, it’s the lowest of any generation.
Churches weren’t the only institution about which millennials grew more cynical. Five years ago, 40 percent of young adults thought the national news media had a positive impact. That portion is only 27 percent today, largely in line with other generations’ view of the national media.
By and large, however, millennials didn’t fit with the perception they are anti-institutional. Among every institution, except the church, young adults were the most likely to say it was having a positive effect on the way things are going in the country today. Generally speaking, the younger you are the more likely you are to see non-religious institutions as having a positive impact on society.
Overall, among the 10 institutions Pew asked about, churches and religious organizations fell in the middle. Millennials view small businesses (86 percent), technology companies (77 percent), colleges and universities (73 percent), and labor unions (57 percent) more positively than churches.
Despite the decline, young adults still see churches as more positive contributors to society than the energy industry (54 percent), banks and other financial institutions (45 percent), entertainment industry (39 percent), large corporations (38 percent), and the national news media (27 percent).
But the problem for religious organizations is that the perception of most of the other institutions is improving among millennials, while the church continues to decline.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.