The percentage of teens who identify as atheist is double that of the general population, according to new research from Barna. These teens are part of Generation Z, the first “post-Christian” generation.
To help you understand this generation, here are seven facts you need to know about “Gen Z:”
1 – Who is Generation Z?
Born between 1999 and 2015, Gen Z does not declare a religious identity. For them, “atheist” is no longer a dirty word. In fact, the percentage of teens who identify as such is double that of the general population (13% vs. 6% of all adults).
2 – What is the Biggest Faith Barrier Among Generation Z?
Compared to older Americans, teens have a harder time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world. Like many people, those in Gen Z struggle to find a compelling argument for the existence of both evil and a good God.
3 – What Does Generation Z Believe About Truth?
More than one-third of Gen Z (37%) believes it is not possible to know for sure if God is real, compared to 32 percent of all adults. However, teens who do believe a person can know God exists are less likely than adults to say they are very convinced that is true (54% vs. 64% all adults who believe in God). At best, many teens think truth seems relative; at worst, truth seems unknowable.
4 – How Does Relativism Affect Generation Z?
Generation Z embraces relativism like much of the rest of American culture. More than half of all Americans, both teens (58%) and adults (62%), agree with the statement “Many religions can lead to eternal life; there is no ‘one true religion.’” Gen Z believes that what’s true for someone else may not be “true for me.”
5 – What About Science and the Bible?
Nearly half of teens, say “I need factual evidence to support my beliefs” (46%)—which helps to explain their uneasiness with the relationship between science and the Bible. Nearly half of churchgoing teens say the church seems to reject much of what science tells us.
6 – Does Generation Z Attend Church?
Yes, but more than half of Gen Z says church involvement is either “not too” or “not at all” important. Only one in five says attending church is “very important” to them (20%). Among those who say attending church is not important to them, three out of five Christian teens say, “I find God elsewhere” (61%), while about the same proportion of non-Christians says, “church is not relevant to me personally” (64%).
7 – What Does Generation Z Think About Church?
Among Gen Z churchgoers (those who have attended one or more worship services within the past month), perceptions of church tend to be more positive than negative. Strong majorities of church-going teens say church:
“is a place to find answers to live a meaningful life” (82%);
“is relevant to my life” (82%);
“I can ‘be myself’ in church” (77%); and
“people at church are tolerant of those with different beliefs” (63%).
Learn more about Barna’s research on Generation Z here.