Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2021 Volume 17 :: Article 2
2021 Volume 17, Article 2
Generation Z, Minority Millennials and Disaffiliation from Religious Communities: Not Belonging and the Cultural Cost of Unbelief

Author: Aprilfaye T. Manalang (Norfolk State University)

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ABSTRACT

Why do America’s youngest generation disaffiliate from religious communities? How do disaffiliated minority millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) view religion? How do they navigate their largely religious ethnic communities? Previous research has examined the religiosity of communities of color. However, there is a rising trend of unbelief among Gen Z and minority millennials. This research project investigates the diversity of unbelief among minority millennials and Gen Z; specifically, Filipino-Americans, the second-largest Asian-American group; African-Americans; and Hispanic-Americans. Through 45 in-depth interviews, the following three themes emerge across the interviews: 1) Race and Religion: “Fitting In” and Cultural Hegemony or Cultural Incompatibility and Unbelief; 2) Problematic History, Race, and Religion: The Legacy of Slavery; 3) Cultural Cost of Unbelief: Negotiating Family. Gen Z and minority millennials express skepticism due to past histories related to the church and subsequently question whether their respective race “fits in” with their religion. Despite these criticisms, most minority millennials and Gen Z report themselves as spiritual. Culturally, they tend to highly regard their parents and grandparents, who tend to be deeply religious. Because of these intergenerational ties, they are unlikely to “come out” as unbelievers in the church. This paper also explores the secularization theory and finds support for the multiple secularities hypothesis.

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