In the United States, it’s a founding principle that each person has the freedom to follow the faith of his or her choosing.
But over the generations, a person usually adopts the faith of their parents.
A new study by Pew Research suggests that those in the millennial generation increasingly come from “mixed-faith” homes—and that could have major implications for the Church.
In these mixed-faith homes, a huge portion of Americans don’t have the option of merely adopting the faith of their parents. It’s not that simple.
Only a quarter of millennials (24 percent) say they were raised by two Protestant parents. That’s half as many as those in Gen. X (48 percent).
The number of Americans raised in interfaith homes is growing, especially when it comes to millennials.
Across the board, roughly one-in-five U.S. adults were raised within a mixed religious background, according to the study. And more than one-quarter of millennials (27 percent) say they were raised in a “religiously mixed family.”
The effects of this trend are playing out in interesting ways. When it comes to marriage, fully a quarter of married adults now say their spouses don’t share their religious beliefs. And even among the 75 percent who do share the same beliefs, only 44 percent think shared religious beliefs is “very important” for a successful marriage.
In fact, a considerably larger percentage of people think a satisfying sexual relationship and an equitable division of household chores are crucial for a successful marriage.
When it comes to getting married at all, more than half (51 percent) say their spouse’s religion was “not too” or “not at all” important in deciding whether to get married.
This reality raises important questions for the Church. Is the Church compelling enough to thrive in a culture where faith is less a familial decision and more an individual one?
And what are the best ways for Christians to talk about and live their faith in a culture that thinks sex and chores are more important to family life than religion?