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Societal changes have Gen Z searching for meaning

Despite the overall decline of faith in American life, there are signs that members of Generation Z are searching for meaning. Christian campus groups at universities have seen growing interest from college students in recent years as Gen Z faced challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of social media and political polarization.

Author and religious commentator Billy Hallowell says Hollywood, the media and universities typically all come from the same secular perspective, which has permeated society and given America’s younger generation, Gen Z and millennials in particular, the false understanding that everything is about “you.”

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“I think what we’re watching happen right now Is people have been living this out,” he said. “Gen Z was brought up with it and they’re hitting this wall and they’re realizing, ‘Oh my goodness, this wasn’t true.’ This lie that you’re the ‘God of the self,’ and you get to decide everything, not only is it not true, it’s not fulfilling, it leads us to dangerous places, there’s no meaning.”

Jay Richards, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion and Family at the Heritage Foundation, said the trend is interesting, because until recently, Gen Zers were reporting low rates of belief in God and religious practice compared to other generations, but there has been a fast pivot the other way in recent years.

“If you look from 30,000 feet, there has been a clear decline from generation to generation in the U.S. in terms of basic religiosity,” he told Fox News. “Boomers, for instance, and Gen Xers generally score higher in terms of religiosity than millennials and Gen Zers. But it looks like there’s less movement in the last few years among Gen Zers whom even a couple of years ago had really, really low participation rates in religion, much lower than average rates, in terms of belief in God.”

More than 30 percent of millennials have no religious affiliation, which is up from 22 percent a decade ago, while 33 percent of the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood have no religious preference, according to a Gallup survey in 2021. In 2020, U.S. church membership fell below 50 percent for the first time since Gallup started tracking the data 80 years ago. Only 47 percent of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, which sat at 50 percent in 2018 and 70 percent in 1999.

Although Gallup has limited data on church membership among Gen Zers who have reached adulthood, data indicates their church membership rates are similar to millennials at around 36 percent.  Hallowell said America’s younger generation has turned to political issues, such as climate change, as causes to “worship” in place of religion. “When you do remove faith from society, you attempt to sort of push it to the side, not talk about it, something is going to replace that void,” he said.

–Alan Goforth | MV

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