Religious beliefs decreasing among younger generations, Kent State Students

A visual breakdown of 99 student responses about their personal religious beliefs, surveyed across two Spring 2019 sections of Prof. Larry Terkel’s World Religions classes. 

Cole King

Kent State students and the Gen Z/Millennial generations overall are showing that the most prominent religion is not having a religion at all.

In the 2014 Religious Landscape Study of over 35,000 Americans from The Pew Research Center, the “Unaffiliated” category comprised of Atheist, Agnostic and “nothing in particular” made up 22 percent of the overall responses. The same category, however, made up 25 percent of the college graduates subsection of responses.

Larry Terkel, a religious studies professor, began surveying students in his world religions class a few years ago about their religious affiliations and noticed the same trend.

On the first day of class, Terkel asked each student to write down what religion they were raised to believe. The choices were Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Agnostic, other, and “none”. Then he asked them to write down what they personally identify with now.

In total, Terkel surveyed 99 students across his two sections of world religions for this semester and has now surveyed 12 sections in total.

“I think that what’s happening is this generation is having more difficulty believing in general than others, due to more facts, laws, technology and it is taking away from belief.”

“It’s getting to the point to where you have to check your intellect at the door before you walk into a church,” Terkel said.

Terkel said that Catholics are taking a big hit and usually Christianity takes a bigger hit than seen here making this joke that this class is, “his most religious class of all time.”

“The United States is turning into like missionary territory due to the place it is in with the church,” said Jordan Cinderich, the director of Campus Ministry. “It’s a polarizing time when religious believers, believe more so, and non-believers, believe less.”

Cinderich said that the biggest reasons are technology and faith in science. “Purpose of religion is human connection, this becomes destroyed in that.”

Cole King covers religion. Contact him at [email protected].