Yesterday the Pew Research Center released Religion Among the Millennials. It is a research study with multiple sources of data that is part of the series Millennials: Portrait of a Generation Next. The Millennial generation is made up of today's teenagers and young adults, 15 to 32 years of age in 2010.
The report documents in careful detail that young adults today are less likely to participate in religion than are older generations. This includes both the public aspects of religion, such as church attendance, and the private aspects such as personal devotions. It also deals with the reality that this driven in large part by stage of life; that it is likely as Millennials get older, their participation in religion will increase.
At the same time, comparison of data from today's Millennials with data from surveys of Generation X and Baby Boomers when they were young adults shows that there is a small decline in young adult particpation in religion. The differential in these trend comparisons is much less than the differential between age groups at any given time. The most significant of these is the percentage of young adults who say that they are not affiliated with any religion--what are called "nones"--which was 12 percent in the 1970s (among Baby Boomers) and has increased to 23 percent among Millennials today. In other words the proportion of young adults who are not affiliated with any religion has nearly doubled in four decades. This has caused much discussion among church leaders, including a number of wild misstatements of the facts.
You can get a copy of the report by clicking here. It is a free download from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. I should also note that there is much less change in religious beliefs than in religious behavior.