Here is some interesting data from FiveThirtyEight. The data is from a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Since 2006, the proportion of Americans identifying as white evangelical Protestant, white Catholic, and white mainline Protestant have all dropped by 5 or 6 percentage points.
The median age of people who don’t identify with any religion (also called the “religiously unaffiliated”) is rising, which suggests that people who have left their faith tradition aren’t returning to the fold as they get married, start families or hit other major life milestones.
While this is being interpreted from a political point of view, I think Jesus would see this as an opportunity for the good news of God’s country (aka Kingdom). “What a huge harvest!” Jesus said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”
Here is a summary of what FiveThirtyEight had to say:
- “This youth and diversity might seem like a gift to the Democratic Party, but it also presents a serious challenge for politicians hoping to present a compelling vision to voters who have a wide range of values and priorities. White Christians, especially white evangelical Protestants, have been a political powerhouse for the Republicans because of their enthusiasm and ideological unity. The religiously unaffiliated, according to the PRRI report, now constitute more than one-quarter of the Democratic base. “It’s really hard to find a message that speaks to someone who’s not religious at all and a devout Catholic or evangelical Protestant,” Cox said. “The danger for Democrats is that they don’t find ways to motivate all of these diverse groups, and those voters just stay home.”
- “And the religiously unaffiliated — a plurality of whom don’t consider themselves part of any political party — are also less politically engaged than other religious groups and less likely to vote. “That’s partly because they’re younger,” Cox said, “but also because they’re not attached to formal institutions like churches.” Those institutions — especially churches — have been key for unifying voters around shared values and issues, and for motivating them to vote, according to Cox.
- “There’s also evidence in the report that young religious voters of color in particular may feel less loyalty to the Democrats than older generations did. Only 35 percent of Hispanic Catholics under the age of 30 identify as Democrats, compared to 56 percent of Hispanic Catholic seniors. Similarly, just 58 percent of black Protestants under 30 say they’re Democrats, compared to 79 percent of black Protestants over the age of 65.”