But one finding in the survey signals that even millennials who grew up religious may be increasingly unlikely to return to religion. In the 1970s, most nonreligious Americans had a religious spouse and often, that partner would draw them back into regular religious practice. But now, a growing number of unaffiliated Americans are settling down with someone who isn’t religious — a process that may have been accelerated by the sheer number of secular romantic partners available, and the rise of online dating. Today, 74 percent of unaffiliated millennials have a nonreligious partner or spouse, while only 26 percent have a partner who is religious.
Luke Olliff, a 30-year-old man living in Atlanta, says that he and his wife gradually shed their religious affiliations together. “My family thinks she convinced me to stop going to church and her family thinks I was the one who convinced her,” he said. “But really it was mutual. We moved to a city and talked a lot about how we came to see all of this negativity from people who were highly religious and increasingly didn’t want a part in it.” This view is common among young people. A majority (57 percent) of millennials agree that religious people are generally less tolerant of others, compared to only 37 percent of Baby Boomers.
Young adults like Olliff are also less likely to be drawn back to religion by another important life event — having children.