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Saturday, October 22, 2016

By David Lauter, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Members of the huge millennial generation are less religious, less likely to call themselves “patriotic” and significantly more liberal than older generations, new research shows.

Although adults aged 18-33 are much more likely to call themselves political independents than their elders are, they are also far more likely to vote Democratic. Their views favoring activist government, as well as their stands on social issues such as gay rights, reinforce that voting behavior, an extensive study by the Pew Research Center shows.

The youngest generation of adults, born after 1980, has the most optimism about the country. That comes despite the economic difficulties many of them have experienced since entering the workforce. And it stands in contrast with some previous generations: Baby boomers, for example, born between 1946 and 1964, were less optimistic than their elders at this stage of their lives.

The millennials are also the only generation of adults with more people who identify themselves as liberals than as conservatives. Just less than one-third of millennials call themselves liberals while about one-quarter identify as conservative. And nearly half say they have become more liberal as they have aged, with 57 percent saying their views on social issues have become more liberal over time.

By contrast, among members of the baby boom generation, 41 percent call themselves conservative and only 21 percent identify as liberals. And baby boomers are more likely to say that growing older has made them more conservative. On this and most other issues, the views of Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) fall between those of the baby boom and millennial generations, and the views of those born before the baby boom are more conservative.

The liberal views of the youngest adult generation show up on a range of issues. Nearly seven in 10 say they support same-sex marriage, for example, just more than half identify themselves as “supporters of gay rights” and they are twice as likely to see gay and lesbian couples raising children as a good thing for the country than as a negative, which puts them at odds with older generations. They are also far more likely to favor legalization of marijuana. Opinions on abortion and gun control, by contrast, show little generational difference.

Just more than half of millennials say they favor a “bigger government providing more services” rather than a smaller government — a polling question used for years as an index of people’s attitudes toward government’s role.

  • elw

    The radical right’s heads are going to explode as Generation X begins to takes their voting rights seriously. My grandchildren and nieces and nephews in that age category go beyond being liberal in a political sense, they have spent their childhood and young adult years in atmospheres full of other children who do not look or think the same as they do; they are more than comfortable with people who are different – for them it is natural and feels right. They are going to finish the march to “equal” that was start in the 1960s. I personally am looking forward to how they change the world. Hope I live long enough to see it.

  • Independent1

    I’m not a bit surprised that millennials are less religious these days given the very mixed messages that today’s many religions espouse. Many churches that claim to Christian, constantly expressing views that are anything but Christian. For one, pushing their congregations to vote to elect a party whose major focus is money above all else, when Jesus clearly preached about the dangers of money; and his brother James, stated clearly in his letter to all Christians that money is the route of all evil. Pastors, priests, ministers and more are constantly asking their congregations to sin, vote for a political party of nothing more than thieves, just to elect people to governments in the hopes of legislating morality based on falsely held beliefs about what THEY THINK is right.

    On top of that, these Chuches that are claiming to be Christian, are constantly pushing their religious beliefs on everyone outside of their own church, FALSELY JUDGING OTHERS as being unchristian; when in fact, they do not know with certainty today anymore about what God is thinking about what they’re so adamantly want to impose on others, than the Pharisees did in Jesus time.

    In my mind, it is all this anti Christian rhetoric of many religions that are driving millennials into many of the beliefs and preferences that are reported by this article. Churches today have greatly eroded the underlying belief in even the need for morality itself within a large portion of Americans, by creating so many contradictions in the minds of people that it’s no wonder patriotism and many other long-standing belief sets are becoming less a factor in their lives.