COVID-19 will disrupt lives and relationships forcing young people to explore new and innovative ways to explore their religious and spiritual identities.
In October 2021, Springtide Research Institute released The State of Religion & Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty, the result of a year of research into the spiritual beliefs, behaviors, and experiences of young people ages 13-25 (Gen Z). The study, which included 10,274 surveys and 65 interviews, is a follow-up to The State of Religion & Young People 2020: Relational Authority and the latest installment of the largest dataset on young people and spirituality in the United States.
Most young people enter 2022 feeling uncertain about their lives. Six in 10 young people (63%) say they’re unsettled, uncomfortable, or stressed because they don’t know what their life will be like in 2022.
Only 19% told us in 2021 that connecting with a faith community has helped them cope during a challenging or difficult time. About the same number of young people will become more religious in 2022 as those who become less religious. In 2020 and 2021, we asked three different groups of young people whether over the past five years they have become more religious, less religious, or about the same.
Though there has been some fluctuation, the percentage difference between “more” and “less” over these time points remains negligible. We expect this trend to continue into 2022.
When asked what would draw them to a faith community, 46% of young people said shared values while only 29% said shared beliefs.
We also discovered that young people are just as likely to be drawn to a faith community because they’re engaged in activism/social justice (29%) as they are shared beliefs (29%).
In 2021, we discovered that there is a positive relationship between a young person flourishing in their faith life and flourishing in their mental health.
We also discovered that there is a positive relationship between a young person flourishing in their faith life and their overall happiness.
“The dominant trends from 2021 will continue throughout the next year. COVID-19 will disrupt lives and relationships forcing young people to explore new and innovative ways to explore their religious and spiritual identities,” says Josh Packard, Executive Director of Springtide Research Institute.