Today’s edition of the Courier-Journal (Kentucky) has a nice editorial about who the “Nones” are, what “we” believe, and how churches are driving away the youth:
… the fastest growth in young “nones” has come since 1990, a factor researchers attribute largely to young people put off by the “culture wars” in which evangelical Christianity took an increasingly strident tone in political races and pushed legal restrictions on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
It was on full display among Republican candidates in last year’s presidential primary election. And it appears the “nones” are rejecting that message.
Religion serves an important role in knitting together communities. It provides solace in times of stress and grief. Churches play a vital role in social services. Just consider what Louisville would be like without its community ministry associations, supported by a network of local churches.
Yet it appears some religious leaders have overreached in trying to force beliefs into government and public policy and youths are beginning to reject that message. Churches need to rethink the mission and the message.
I don’t doubt that churches play a vital role in many communities, but a secular institution with the same kind of money could probably duplicate quite a lot of that. I say “probably” because it’s the fictional stories churches tell that bind people together under that umbrella. I’m not sure a “shared sense of humanity” has the same sort of bonding power. If everyone is under the umbrella, then there’s really nothing special about your group to bring people to it… and churches have a powerful story to tell.
Anyway, we can be thankful that most churches — certainly the evangelical Christian ones — aren’t smart enough to change their mindsets in order to appeal to the Nones. By sticking to the GOP playbook when it comes to science, women, and civil rights, they’ll keep leaking people under the only people left are those you wouldn’t want to be associated with in the first place.
(Thanks to Aaron for the link!)