Views of church, media plummet for Millennials

Saturday, January 9, 2016
Michael F. Haverluck (

young man with BibleA recent poll divulged that Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s are increasingly losing their faith in religious organizations and the news media in a dramatic fashion. 

A Pew Research Center Poll found that Millennials are the most skeptical demographic group in America when it comes to their view of churches and the press — with faith in religious organizations dropping nearly 20 percent in recent years.

“Younger generations tend to have more-positive views than their elders of a number of institutions that play a big part in American society,” Pew Research Center reports. “But for some institutions — such as churches and the news media — Millennials’ opinions have become markedly more negative in the past five years.”

This trend has dramatically increased over the past several years so that younger Americans now view churches and other religious groups more negatively than their elders.

“Since 2010, Millennials’ rating of churches and other religious organizations has dipped 18 percentage points: 55 percent now say churches have a positive impact on the country compared with five years ago, when nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said this,” Pew Research Center’s Hannah Fingerhut explained. “Views among older generations have changed little over this time period. As a result, older generations are now more likely than Millennials — who are much less likely than their elders to be religious — to view religious organizations positively.”

A double-digit drop was also witnessed when it comes to Millennials’ increasingly negative view of the national news media over the same period of time.

“In 2010, four-in-ten (40 percent of) Millennials said the national news media was having a positive impact on the way things were going in the country — a far more positive view than among older generations (just 27 percent of Silents [born between 1925 and 1942] and Baby Boomers [born after World War II and before the 1960s] and 29 percent of Generation Xers (born between the 1960 and 1980) said this),” Pew researchers divulged. “But now, Millennials’ evaluations of the news media have grown more critical and are currently on par with older generations: Just 27 percent now say it has a positive impact, compared with 26 percent of Xers and Silents and 23 percent of Boomers.”

Believing in business

Of late, younger generations are more prone to positively view large and small businesses, as well as financial institutions and labor unions, than they were five years ago — even though the general consensus about them is still negative.

“Banks and financial institutions continue to be viewed more negatively than positively among adults overall (47 percent vs. 40 percent), yet nearly twice as many as in 2010 now say they have a positive impact (40 percent today, 22 percent then),” the research shows. “And these more-positive impressions are seen across generations: Five years ago, just 35 percent of Millennials said banks had a positive impact on the nation; today 45 percent say this. Evaluations of large corporations have similarly improved among Millennials, though they also remain more negative than positive.”

Much more popular with younger Americans are small businesses, whose support has gone from great to greater in recent years.

“Small businesses were viewed positively by majorities across all generations in 2010, and those views have only grown more positive in recent years.” Fingerhut pointed out. “For instance, 86 percent of Millennials now say small businesses have a positive effect — up 15 points since 2010.”

And despite President Barack Obama’s highly contested support and promotion of labor unions during his two terms in the White House, Millennials’ faith in the organizations as working for the betterment of society has increased since 2010 — perhaps an indication of favorable press coverage and progressive teachings in public schools and academic institutions.

“Labor unions are also seen more positively today than they were five years ago (45 percent now say they have a positive impact on the country, up from 32 percent in 2010),” the Pew study maintains. “And Millennials remain much more likely than their elders, especially members of the Silent Generation, to view unions positively: More than half (57 percent) of Millennials say this, compared with 42 percent of Gen Xers, 41 percent of Baby Boomers and just 28 percent of Silents.”

Of schools and technology …

High perceptions of America’s colleges and universities also mark the younger generations, which have more confidence in what academic institutions teach than older generations.

“Nearly three-quarters of Millennials (73 percent) say colleges and universities have a positive impact, compared with 64 percent of Generation Xers, 59 percent of Boomers and just 51 percent of Silents,” the study revealed.

The same goes with the views Americans generally have about technology companies, as Pew researchers take note of the generation gap, with the younger generations having a much higher view of their impact on society than the group formerly known as the Elders. Only 59 percent of Silents see tech companies in a positive light, compared to 77 percent of Millennials, 73 percent of Gen Xers and 70 percent of Boomers.

A less dramatic disparity between the youngest and oldest generations can be seen when it comes to Americans’ take on energy providers.

“While about half of Americans (48 percent) view the energy industry as having a positive impact on the country, this view is somewhat more common among those in younger generations than older: 54 percent of Millennials and 52 percent of Xers say this, compared with just 42 percent of Boomers and 35 percent of Silents,” the researches revealed.

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