National values are shifting as younger Americans place less importance on faith, patriotism, and having children. A poll from Wall Street Journal and NBC News asked people what values matter most to them, and compared their answers to responses from 21 years ago.
Hard work is still the top answer, but the next three values have dropped due to changing priorities of younger Americans, WSJ reported:
>61% say patriotism is very important, down from 70% in 1998
>Religion is at 50%, down from 62%; and having children is at 43%, down from 59%
“The nuclear family, religious fealty, and national pride—family, God, and country—are a holy trinity of American traditionalism,” wrote Derek Thompson for The Atlantic. “The fact that allegiance to all three is in precipitous decline tells us something important about the evolution of the American identity.”
What that is, Thompson concludes, is that Americans are increasingly less trusting of long-trusted institutions, including the church. The up-and-coming generations—Millennials and Gen Z—are less likely to identify themselves with political designations, causes, or brands.
“They seem most comfortable with unaffiliation, even anti-affiliation.”
Still, they’re interested in community involvement and tolerance, and building a coalition of people who feel disenfranchised by current social structures. They’re not so much abandoning traditional values, Thompson says, but more so their trust in institutions to provide for them.
As American values continue to shift, churches may be increasingly challenged to minister to people with no predisposition to trust them.