The Limits of Secularity

In his recent analysis of fresh survey data from the General Social Survey, respected American political scientist and sociologist Ryan Burge noticed that the steady rise in non-religious Americans has plateaued. This cluster includes “nones,” who claim no religious affiliation, combined with atheists and agnostics. Between 2008 and 2013, the number of non-religious Americans rose nine percent, from 21 percent to 30 percent, and in 2019 rose to 35 percent. But in the last half-decade, this number has remained steady.

Burge then digs into the generational cohorts and discovers something interesting. Among baby boomers, the rise in non-religious activity continues to rise, but among Generation X, it remained steady and among millennials and Generation Z, there was a significant decline. The drop among the youngest group here, mostly high school and college students, was the most significant.

Though we should be careful not to read too much into one year’s survey data, we can be encouraged that perhaps the march of secularism in American culture seems to have hit a wall and, it seems, has receded among the youngest generations. Perhaps these numbers are beginning to reflect what we are hearing and seeing among Generation Z anecdotally. Last year, at Asbury University, thousands of young people gathered for days to repent, pray, and seek God in a powerful moment that spread to other college campuses in ways that even secular observers noticed. Today, there are continued reports of students on college campuses hearing the gospel, getting baptized, and pledging to follow Christ with their lives.

Click Here To Read More (Originally Published at World Magazine

Daniel Darling is director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His forthcoming book is Agents of Grace. He is also a bestselling author of several other books, including The Original Jesus, The Dignity Revolution, The Characters of Christmas, The Characters of Easter, and A Way With Words and the host of a popular weekly podcast, The Way Home. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College, has studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Angela have four children.