With Generation Z, women are no longer more religious than men…… | News and reports
For decades we thought women were more religious than men.
Survey results, conventional wisdom, and anecdotal insights into our own congregations have shown us how much more women care about their faith, though researchers have not been able to fully disentangle the underlying causes. underpinnings of the gender gap in religious traditions and across the world.
Now, recent data shows that the long-standing trend may finally be reversing: in the United States, young women are less likely to identify with religion than young men.
The results could have a profound impact on the future of the American church.
As recently as last year, the religious gender gap persisted among older Americans. Data from an October 2021 survey found that among those born in 1950, around a quarter of men identified as atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular, compared to just 20% of women of the same age. This same five-point gap is also evident among people born in 1960 and 1970.
For Millennials and Generation Z, it’s a different story. Among those born in 1980, the gap begins to narrow to about two percentage points. By 1990, the gap disappears, and with people born in 2000 or later, women are significantly more likely to be no than men.
Among those aged 18 to 25, 49% of women are no, compared to only 46% of men.
There is also a gender gap in church attendance. This trend has been so blatant that the Pew Research Center found in 2016 that Christian women around the world are on average 7 percentage points more likely than men to attend services; there are no countries where men are significantly more likely to be affiliated with a religion than women.
In the United States, older men are more likely to say they never attend religious services than women of the same age. Among 60-year-old men, 35% say they never come; that’s 31 percent women.
While the difference between men and women who identify as no does not disappear until those born in the 1990s (today’s 30s), we find that the gender gap in attendance at the church has also shrunk for previous generations. For people born as early as 1973 (late 40s today), men and women are equally likely to say they never go to church. Younger adults are less likely to say they have never used services than those aged between 35 and 45.
What demographic factors may lead to this emerging gender difference in the religiosity of young men and women?
There is no real difference in the share of non-males and females among blacks, Asians and other racial groups.
But among young Hispanics, men are 8 percentage points more likely to be no than women.
Among white respondents, women are 9 percentage points more likely to say they have no religious affiliation compared to white men.
The gap between Gen Z whites is a big part of the story as white respondents make up half of 18-25 year olds.
Education can be another important factor. Among adults under 25 with a college education, women are slightly less likely to say they have no religious affiliation than men (39% of women versus 45% of men).
However, among those who have not completed a four-year degree but are working there, there is a clear difference. Fifty-seven percent of Gen Z women with a high school diploma don’t, compared to just 52 percent of men. Among those who took college courses but did not earn a bachelor’s degree, there is a seven-point gap between men and women.
Christians noticed the long-standing age gap over the years and tried to fix it. Men’s ministries focused on training male disciples and bringing husbands and fathers back into the fold, but women continued to outnumber men in evangelical churches by a margin of 10 percentage points .
Some major voices influencing evangelical Christianity had specifically denounced young men for their lack of responsibility and religious devotion. Mark Driscoll preached on biblical manhood, Owen Strachan said that “manhood does hard things for the glory of God and the good of others”, and Jordan Peterson’s rise to fame rests largely on his insistence on a “gospel of masculinity”.
These voices and other efforts to keep young men in the fold may have affected men’s involvement in the church in recent years, but they may also have been a deterrent to women’s attendance. As a recent CT book review notes:
Evangelical women have long attended church at higher rates than Evangelical men. But today that gap is narrowing, not because more men are coming, but because more women are leaving. These women are increasingly likely to “deconstruct” their faith or identify as “nones” – a growing population of religiously disaffiliated people.
As Lyman Stone wrote two years ago, “Making your church more manly will not make it bigger. This could be a discount factor.
The decline in attendance and membership of young women leaves the future of the American church in a precarious position. For pastors in older congregations, it is not uncommon to look at people on Sundays and see women outnumber men by factors of two or three. If this trend continues and Gen Z women do not return to church as they enter their 40s, it could spell a real crisis for congregations that rely on the leadership and services provided by this party. vitality of the ecclesial community.