60 percent of religion-unaffiliated millennials stopped believing in religious teachings, says PRRI survey

Almost 39 percent of American millennials are religiously unaffiliated and their top reason for leaving their faith is that they stopped believing in the religion's teachings, according to a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

Based on the PRRI survey, 25 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, and this number includes nearly 39 percent of young people from 18 to 29 years of age. The number of people in the United States who reject religion has been increasing since the 1990s.

(Reuters/Dan Peled/Pool)Children attend a church service for eight children who were killed in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, December 21, 2014.

The survey also revealed that 29 percent of those aged 30 to 49 do not believe in religion, and only 17 percent of those 50 to 64 years old and 13 percent of those above 65 years old have the same view.

The rise in the number of religiously unaffiliated American millennials can be attributed mainly to their nonreligious family background (32 percent). However, 29 percent of these young people blamed it on the "negative religious teachings about gay and lesbian people."

Earlier this month, the National Catholic Register published an article about a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) about young Catholics leaving their faith at an early age. Mark Gray, the author of the report, described the young people's situation as "almost a crisis in faith" because they are citing a need for proof of their religious belief.

These kids are finding that their church's teachings are incompatible with what they are learning in school. Because of this, Gray said the Church needs to address the problem as an "issue of popular culture" and explain its history and ties to science.

Meanwhile, Legionary of Christ Fr. Matthew Schneider said faith and science must be taught to young people in such a way that the two are in harmony. He said there is no contradiction between faith and science, rather an understanding of each field in their own realms.

Citing a research done by the University of Notre Dame sociology professor Christian Smith, Fr. Schneider suggested that parents let their kids attend a "weekly activity" like a Bible study or youth group. He said these activities can help the children stay in their faith. He added that parents need to be aware of what their kids believe because many parents do not know the faith that their children are professing.