So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these new "nones" actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.
But a majority of the Millennial generation was liberal on most social issues, and above all, on homosexuality. The fraction of twentysomethings who said that homosexual relations were "always" or "almost always" wrong plummeted from about 75% in 1990 to about 40% in 2008. (Ironically, in polling, Millennials are actually more uneasy about abortion than their parents.)
This split might seem strange that homosexuality is more accepted and abortion less so. But maybe... just maybe, there is a common thread here. That a person's a person no matter how small (to channel my inner Horton). On a day where we are faced with an even more caustic political atmosphere, maybe the younger folks are pointing to a shift in politics- and religion-as-usual.