Seventy percent of voters under the age of 40 said that a relationship with God personally mattered to them, while 30 percent said it didn’t matter.
The question was asked as part of a first-of-its-kind Rare poll that surveys only respondents under 40. The questions were tailored to chart trends in the opinions of sought-after younger voters.
Democrats were less likely to value a relationship with God than Republicans. Sixty-one percent of Democrats said their connection to God mattered, while 90 percent of Republicans agreed.
The cohorts with the most faithful were evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, African Americans, and those without a full college degree. Those without religious affiliation were least likely to say having a relationship with God is important, though Jews and Asian Americans also had fewer.
The data suggests that Americans may be falling into that old phrase “spiritual but not religious.” While most respondents believe in God, other polls have consistently found that actual religious practice has steadily diminished.
A comprehensive survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found this year that only 31 percent of respondents attend religious services every week. According to Pew, the religious identification in America that’s growing most quickly is “none.”
But that doesn’t mean the public is becoming sympathetic to atheism. In a Pew survey from earlier this year, half of respondents said they wouldn’t want an in-law who didn’t believe in God.
“This deflates the myth that the next generation will be more secular or atheistic,” Chad Pecknold, a professor of systematic theology at the Catholic University of America, told Rare. “It tells us that people have a natural desire for God which can be misdirected, but cannot be extinguished.”
The Rare survey was conducted by nonpartisan Gravis Marketing between August 11 and August 18. A total of 556 respondents under age 40 were interviewed over the phone and using Internet panels. Overall, the poll has a margin of error of 5 percent.