College Students Less Religious, More Supportive of Same-Sex Marriage, Study Shows

A growing number of U.S. college students show no religious preference, according to a 2014 survey conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles’ annual Cooperative Institutional Research Program.

The number of freshmen who selected “none” as their religious preference increased to about one in four in 2014, from about one in six in 2005. Also on the rise is the number of students at Catholic colleges who are not identifying with any religion, a number that rose from 10.6 percent in 2005 to 14.9 percent in 2014. At other religious colleges, that number nearly doubled, to 17.4 percent.

The survey looks at responses from 150,000 first-time, full-time students at more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities. The survey also looked at where these students stood on certain issues, such as gay marriage.

Only students identifying as “far right” still believe same-sex marriage should be illegal, according to the survey. Of students identifying with that group, 44.3 percent either “agreed somewhat” or “agreed strongly” in marriage equality. On the other side, 84 percent of “middle-of-the-road” and 93.9 percent of “liberal” students said they believe in same-sex marriage rights.

Kevin Eagan, director of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, predicts that the survey will soon stop asking this question because of students’ increasing support for LGBTQ rights.

“There are so few students in that far right group that they’re not having a huge effect on the overall number — it’s largely not even an issue for today’s college students,” Eagan said in a statement.


*This story was originally published online by The Huffington Post on May 7, 2015.