Could Generation Z — the generation currently in their teens and early 20s — be finding religion?
This week, a TikTok from the fall resurfaced showing a young girl who looks to be in her early 20s sitting alone in a large, empty church with her knees up as the sound of someone playing piano echoes through the cavernous space.
“2023 hit so hard I had to turn to religion,” reads the caption of the video, which was originally posted back in October.
is the next vibe shift a Gen Z religious revival?
this tiktok has 2.1M views & 382k likes, with comments like:
“I started praying”
“I got baptized”
“I went to church last week for the first time in my life”
what’s going on? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/IWbfXwFkGu
— Danielle Vermeer (@DLVermeer) December 15, 2023
A quick look at the comments casts doubt on the idea that the post might just be a joke.
The video has a whopping 385,000 likes and more than 8,000 comments, most of which are from other Zoomers saying they too have wandered into churches recently.
“For real. I went to a church last week for the first time in my life. I get it now,” someone wrote.
“No bc low-key this,” wrote another. (That means “I kind of identify with this,” in Gen Z speak for those of you who are not chronically online.)
“The way I went from basically atheist to praying every day and going to church w my family now,” posted another.
“Nah bc I randomly started praying consistently,” another wrote.
“So relatable I left the church at 15 and now I’m back as an adult because I’m so scared of life,” one girl wrote.
Two commenters said they were just recently crying and looking up nearby churches. Others expressed relief that they were not alone in their desire to become religious.
“This wasn’t only me oh my gosh?? I became religious this year and go to church every week. Loving it,” someone wrote.
“Ok so it’s not just me? I literally started the process of becoming catholic,” someone wrote.
“So is this a collective thing? Cus it’s so bad that I even went to church yesterday, I need a reason to keep going on life,” someone wrote.
At least four people commented that they recently got baptized. Several said they recently returned to the Catholic Church, and one said they “literally went to confession the other day.”
Other commenters wrote that they were thinking of going to church for “some sort of direction in my life,” and one girl said a “breakup pushed me to church.”
At one point, the girl who posted the video commented, “Imma keep showing up.”
Comments like this, written in telltale Zoomer lingo, go on and on. Just when you think the hate comments are around the corner, more Zoomers are posting that they went to church.
A few other TikToks show young people saying the same thing — that they started going to church last year, although those videos got fewer views.
On paper, Gen Z is the least religious generation. Nearly half, 49% of Zoomers say they do not have a religious affiliation, according to a 2022 YouGov survey.
However, about a year ago another survey noted a surprising increase in young people saying they believe in God. About a third of people age 18 to 25 say they believe, more than doubt, the existence of a higher power, according to a survey from the Springtide Research Institute. That’s up from only about a quarter of young people in 2021.
While belief in God does not necessarily translate to joining organized religion, some Zoomers commented on TikTok that they were drawn to church for the “peace and quiet.”
Back in April, a Los Angeles rabbi told the Wall Street Journal that more young adults were showing up to Friday night services at the synagogue.
In many more traditional Catholic parishes, the churches are filled with young people, including older Gen Z-ers who are already young parents with small children themselves.
Another driving force in these young people’s turn to religion could be Gen Z’s rampant anxiety.
More than 40% of 18 to 26-year-olds are diagnosed with a mental health condition, and 90% of the time it’s anxiety, according to a survey by Harmony Healthcare IT.
The pandemic sent the most anxious generation’s mental health further into a tailspin, isolating them and intensifying worries about finances and their loved ones.
In response to life’s stressors, some Zoomers say they are searching for relief in something beyond themselves and that faith provides an answer.
Belief in God “gives you a reason for living and some hope,” an Iowa college student told the Journal last year. Some of the TikTok commenters said they ended up in church for this reason as well.
Whatever the reason Gen Z-ers are ending up in church, clearly the next generation has the same age-old longing for peace, meaning, and truth.