the changing landscape of religious participation in the United States.

  • Why have these changes occurred?
  • How has the meaning of religion changed? Does religion still function the same?
  • What groups’ conflicts have influenced the landscape of religion in the United States?

Expert Answers

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According to the 2015 Pew Research Center's Religious Landscape study, Americans overall are becoming less religious. Age is one of the most prominent characteristics in the changing views. People in the millennial generation are the most likely not to consider themselves members of any organized faith. This number does not exactly correlate with those who say they believe in God, which showed a three-percent decline between 2007 and 2015.

A much larger change pertains to the number of Americans without religious affiliation. They may self-identify as atheists or agnostics, but many others refer to having a religion that is “nothing in particular.” The total "religiously unaffiliated" category, Pew research found, totaled twenty-three percent of US adults.

One component of change pertains to attitudes toward sexual identification. People moving away from organized religion were likely to mention church attitudes toward same-sex relationships as a factor influencing their distance. This was particularly true for perceptions of the views of evangelicals and Mormons. Here, generational differences were notable, too, as Millennials expressed greater acceptance of homosexuality than did older generations.

While traditional religious views have declined, in part because of deaths in the older generations, spirituality in broader terms has increased. Some sixty percent of Americans surveyed referred to the significance of "spiritual peace" and "wonder about the universe."

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