Christianity is viewed marginally more favourably by the post-millennial generation than by those in older age groups, according to a new ComRes survey released to mark the publication of a book, Faitheism, by the respected evangelical academic Krish Kandiah.
Marginally more than half (51 per cent) of so-called “Generation Z,” which is 18-24-year-olds, said that they had a positive experience of Christians and Christianity, even though two thirds of the age group said that they never went to church.
The surprising findings go against conventional wisdom, that organised religion is being increasingly rejected by younger people. For example, in 2016, the British Attitudes Survey found that 71 per cent of 18-34-years-olds said they had no religion, up from 62 per cent the previous year.
Yet half of the Generation Z respondents in the new ComRes survey disagreed with the statement that Christians were a negative force in society, with 12 per cent agreeing.
Among the next youngest age group, 25-34-year-olds, 14 per cent agreed with the statement. And among all age groups, the average agreeing that Christians were a negative force was 10 per cent, compared with 51 per cent disagreeing.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of 18-24-year-olds said they never went to church, while church-going among the remaining third ranged from once or twice a year (20 per cent) to several times a week (2 per cent). Some 33 per cent of Generation Z respondents said they went to church.
ComRes questioned just over 4,000 people in March this year.
Kandiah, a theologian and the founder of the adoption and fostering agency, Home for Good, told The Tablet: “This 18-24-year old category is a really interesting one, and for me as a football fan, it’s striking how most of the England football team fit that category, and people have been noticing there is something distinctly different about this football team. There is something different about this rising generation; they often get labelled badly – I really object to term snowflake generation – but they are dissatisfied with the answers that are being given to them.
“Also, a lot of that gen have never been to church…and maybe they are coming at Christianity with fresh eyes, untainted by bad experiences. And also because Christianity is not mainstream any more, it is possible people are recognising just how radical the claims of Jesus are – and it is possible that young people are finding Jesus the most radical person ever to live.
“And I guess that’s why I wrote the book Faitheism – because I think it’s time for a fresh approach as to how we have the conversation between Christianity, atheism and every one in between…even if you don’t believe in God you might be open to hearing and investigating him.”