We keep hearing that young Americans are far less religious that everyone else. Surveys indicate that more than a third of people between 18-30 have no religious affiliation at all — and most of those studies were done before Donald Trump entered office and put an even larger black stain on white evangelical Christianity (which was already in decline).
But those trends aren’t nearly as dramatic for young African Americans, according to a new analysis released by the Pew Research Center and based off of their landmark 2014 Religious Landscape Study.
While young black Americans are still less religious than older ones, they’re far more religious than young Americans who aren’t black.
In fact, nearly two-thirds (64%) of black Millennials are highly religious on a four-item scale of religious commitment — which includes belief in God and self-described importance of religion, in addition to prayer and worship attendance — compared with 39% of nonblack Millennials.
At the same time, black Millennials are substantially less religious than older black adults by these measures. They are less likely than older black adults to say they pray at least daily, that they attend religious services at least weekly, and that religion is very important to them.
Surprisingly, 86% of black Millennials believe in Heaven, which is exactly what you get from older black people, too. That number hasn’t gone down at all.
Mandisa Thomas, the President of Black Nonbelievers, told me these results are precisely why groups like hers are vital:
Even with the increasing numbers of Blacks who are coming out as atheist and challenging religion, this latest study proves how deeply ingrained religion is in our community. For those in the secular community who doubt why Black Nonbelievers exists, this is one of the reasons why.
She’s right about that. When turning your back on God is seen as an affront to your culture, logic and reason aren’t necessarily enough to pull people away from their churches.
The latest issue of The Humanist also does a great job highlighting five “Unapologetically Black Women Beyond Belief.” Be sure to check that out.