While research on other Christian denominations shows similar individualized attitudes about the role of faith in everyday life, the generational differences are more pronounced among Catholics. "Catholic teenagers are the most distanced from the church authorities," reports Christian Smith, professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame, a fact he attributes to "largely ineffective" modern Catholic religious education. To be sure, some caution is advisable when interpreting generational differences measured at different stages of life: The millennials are just at the beginning of adulthood, so their optimistic and individual-focused opinions may change with their circumstances. "Some of this is useful idealism and some of it is just inexperience," said Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. Still, the cultural shift can't be ignored, Mr. Regnerus said. "We've been swamped by messages of romantic individualism. Those ideas can lead people to marry, but can lead you out of the marriage just as fast when things get tough."
The Wall Street Journal
Marrying Tradition and Modernity