Fewer Americans pray, but still believe in afterlife - study

Parishioners worship at St. Sabina Catholic Church during the predominantly African-American congregation's Unity Mass in Chicago in 2012. | REUTERS / John Gress / File Photo

There are now fewer Americans who believe in God and pray regularly, but there are still more people who believe in afterlife, a new study has found.

The team at San Diego State University (SDU), Case Western Reserve University, and Florida Atlantic University analyzed the General Social Survey, which interviews up to 58,000 respondents every year about different factors including religion. The team observed that there are fewer millenials who admit that they are religious, according to the NBC News.

In the journal Sage Open, the team said there are fewer Americans who believed in God, prayed, participated in religious activities, and took the Bible literally. SDU Psychologist Jean Twenge, who led the study, said the downward spiral of religiosity among young adults indicates that millenials belong to the least religious generation.

Questions about their religious preference, belief in life after death, and belief in God revealed big changes in the present generation compared with the ones asked in the 1970s and 1980s. While only 13 percent expressed doubts about God's existence back then, the percentage rose to 30 percent by 2014.

In 1998, subjects 18 to 29-years-old were asked how religious they were. AT that time, 49 percent said they were either moderately or very religious, but the number dropped to 38 percent by 2014. In 1998, only 15 percent said they were not religious, but 20 percent said the same thing in 2014, the report relays.

It is worth noting that Black Americans and southerners' religiosity have been maintained within the same period of time, Pacific Standard points out.

Nevertheless, 80 percent of adult Americans said they still believe in 2014. This number increased from 73 percent in 1972-74.

"It was interesting that fewer people participated in religion or prayed but more believed in an afterlife," said Twenge. "It might be part of a growing entitlement mentality - thinking you can get something for nothing."

The decline in religious practice may be partly attributed to the present culture's focus on self, Twenge suggests.