A new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that the number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).
What does that mean for funeral planning? When a family leaves religious tradition in the dust, they can get lost without rituals to inform their mourning. Certified Celebrants can help pull together a meaningful, memorable “good goodbye” when there’s a death in the family.
Even when a family isn’t religious, often they’ll engage the services of a clergy person to conduct a funeral. If the service becomes an extension of the religion rather than a reflection of the person who died, this can result in a sense of dissatisfaction with the funeral. Certified Celebrants make the service all about the deceased. They can weave in religion if that was a part of the person’s and if the family is so inclined. Learn more about Funeral Celebrant services.
Here’s more information about the Pew Research Center Study:
The new survey finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.
With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
The growth in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans – sometimes called the rise of the “nones” – is largely driven by generational replacement, the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones. A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives.
These generational differences are consistent with other signs of a gradual softening of religious commitment among some (though by no means all) Americans in recent decades. Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the last 10 years, for example, find modest growth in the number of people who say they seldom or never attend religious services, as well as a declining number who say they never doubt the existence of God.
The lesson here for funeral consumers and funeral directors: The younger generations have less religion. What rituals and symbols will take religion’s place when it comes to the life cycle event formerly known as a funeral? Certified Celebrants can help shape that conversation.
Click here to get the entire study from the Pew Research Center.