Generation X Becoming Less Catholic And Less Republican

New study finds Generation X less Catholic and less Republican

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A dip in church attendance may explain why collection plates grew emptier last year.

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A new study has found that members of Generation X have become less Catholic and less Republican as they have grown older.

The national study by the Hartford, Conn.-based Trinity College surveyed thousands of Gen X-ers — the Americans born between the years of 1965 and 1972 — in 1990 and then again in 2008.

Born after the Second Vatican Council of 1965, a huge percentage of Gen X-ers surveyed in their younger years — approximately one third — identified as being Catholic. "This was the most Catholic generation America had ever seen," Barry Kosmin, a principal investigator on the study, told Whispers.

Fast forward two decades and the landscape is dramatically different. In 2008, approximately one out of five no longer identified as a Catholic.

The numbers of mainline Protestant Gen X-ers, however, have stayed roughly the same.

With dwindling numbers of Catholics, the study also found a sharp increase in the number of people claiming no religious affiliation at all, the so-called "Nones."

[Read: Is Gen X the Real Lost Generation?]

Overall, the number of Gen X-ers leaning Republican declined, and that was even more pronounced among the Nones.

Investigators said the most surprising finding was that instead of adopting more traditional values as they got older, Generation X did the opposite.

"Instead of looking like their parents and grandparents," Kosmin said. "Generation X looks more like young people."

See all the findings of the American Religious Identification Survey here.

Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.