The American Values Survey Question Database from the Pew Research Centre suggests that with the new century we may be seeing a marked change in the beliefs of Americans.
On the statement “I never doubt the existence of God” the number of people who disagree jumped from 10% in 2000 to 18% in 212. That is after being constant for the previous 15 years (see figure below).
But the data is even more dramatic when broken down into age groups. The numbers disagreeing have increased in all age groups, but the increase is most marked for the younger ages. The increase for the 18-29 years group was about 100% (from 18% in 2000 to 31% in 2012). And most of this increase occurred since 2005.
Perhaps those horrible Gnus have been having an effect after all.
The data for New Zealand is not so detailed. However, the figure below shows data from the last 3 census results – 1996, 2001, 2006. Here we see what appears to be a steady increase in those choosing “no religion” on the census form in all age groups. Again the effect is larger for the younger groups. About 45% of people below 40 years old now have no religion.
Last year’s census was delayed because of the Christchurch earthquakes. But I suspect we are going to see some barriers broken in the results it produces.
See also: Belief In God Plummets Among Youth (CHART) for US data presented in terms of “generations.”