Study: gay pride and atheism is on the rise among the young

Study: gay pride and atheism is on the rise among the young January 25, 2018

Encouraging news: Generation Z teens – the 70 million kids born between 1999 and 2015 – are at least twice as likely as American adults to identify as as LGBT or atheist, according to a study just released by the Barna Group.
Christianity Today reports that study – which shows that 13 percent of teens between 13 and 18 years old consider themselves atheists, compared to just six percent of adults overall – poses “new challenges” for the church.
The study also shows that Generation Z kids are far more likely than adults to identify themselves as LGBT.
The findings, says CT:

Are important markers of identity among the youngest segment of America, and pose new ministry challenges for the church.
While the latest Gallup poll reported only 4.1 percent of Americans – and 7.3 percent of millennials – identify as LGBT, Barna found that 12 percent of Gen Z teens described their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual, with 7 percent identifying as bisexual.
This generation is more sensitive to LGBT issues overall, with 37 percent saying their gender and sexuality is “very important” to their sense of self, compared to 28 percent of their Gen X parents.
Additionally, about a third of teens know someone who is transgender, and the majority (69 percent) say it’s acceptable to be born one gender and to feel like another.
Though teens exploring sexual identity have long been a part American churches and youth groups, they haven’t always been this open about their identity and willing to address it so transparently.

Ben Trueblood, Director of student ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, told CT:

It is a new challenge for student ministry leaders, because there is more discussion in the public square regarding LGBT issues.
In the past, it was possible for difficult issues like this to be brushed aside or go unaddressed entirely. But that approach cripples the purpose of student ministry. Now, student ministry leaders are forced to teach what the Bible says on these issues, as well as equip teenagers to respond biblically.

Today’s teens, said CT:

Need that direction from church leaders as they grow more likely to identify as atheist and less likely to identify as Christian than their parents and older peers.

Fifty-nine percent of Generation Z identifies as Christian, compared to 68 percent of adults. Only 1 in 11 teens is considered by Barna to be an “engaged Christian”, a category the research organisation uses for those whose beliefs and practices are shaped by their faith (ie, not “Christian in name only”).
Said Brooke Hempell, Barna Senior Vice President of Research, who released the study in partnership with the Impact 360 Institute, a teen ministry:

This new study shows that Gen Z has a highly inclusive and individualistic worldview and moral code. They see the world and themselves in strikingly different ways than their Gen X parents.

Among Christian teens, Barna found that most – 79 percent – feel comfortable sharing “honest questions, struggles, and doubts” with their parents.
One out of five teens in the Barna study regard Christianity as negative and judgmental. Some of the biggest barriers to belief are the problem of evil (29 percent), perceived hypocrisy among Christians (23 percent), and the conflict between science and Scripture (20 percent). Gen Z is less likely than older generations to see science and the Bible as complementary.
A Facts and Trends “10 Traits of Generation Z” article said Gen Z kids are “post-Christian”. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of America’s adults – and a third of millennial – are “nones”, claiming no religious identity at all, according to Pew Research.
It quotes Rick Eubanks, student minister at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas, as saying:

Many Z’s are growing up in homes where there’s no religion whatsoever, and they may have no experience of religion.
Gen Z is very secularized. Previous generations grew up with some Judeo-Christian values of the past, at least as a reference point. Today’s generation has little to no acquaintance with the gospel.

Pastor James Emery White writes in the 2017 book Meet Generation Z:

Members of Generation Z hold few things dearer than acceptance and inclusivity. They view many moral stances, such as opposing gay marriage, as social stances in line with racism. To them, acceptance means affirmation.

White summed up:

First, they [Generation Z] are lost. They are not simply living in and being shaped by a post-Christian cultural context. They do not even have a memory of the gospel. The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning … [Second], they are leaderless. Little if any direction is coming from their families, and even less from their attempts to access guidance from the Internet. … So how can they be reached?

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  • Broga

    “First, they [Generation Z] are lost.” says Pastor James White. Lost from what? The values of people who lived more than 2,000 years ago, had no knowledge of science. Seeking a way out of their ignorance they invented a God with their characteristics and used him as an explanation for what they did not know. He is still there as the God of the gaps but on the retreat.
    Lost from the contradictions, impossibilities and cruelties of a supposedly infallible book rewritten numerous times under false names to try to make it fit with earlier prophecies.
    Lost from being in the thrall of paedophile priests and vicious nuns who will terrorise them with the threat of hellfire to keep them compliant.
    I could fill pages of this stuff but you know it all already.

  • Farmer Giles


  • andym

    ” Gen Z is less likely than older generations to see science and the Bible as complementary.”
    Another religious escape route closing.It will mean though that the minority who turn towards religion will be more fundie and militant.They’ll be typing on their i-phones about what an evil lie science is.

  • barriejohn

    Not such encouraging news here, but probably dealing with a different generation. One would certainly hope so.

  • StephenJP

    Rick Eubanks (any relation to Chris?) moans that “today’s generation has little or no acquaintance with the gospel”.
    I wonder. I bet that quite a few of them have had plenty of exposure to the gospel, and have decided for themselves that it’s all a load of cobblers.
    This is the first generation to have had access to the internet virtually from birth. There is an awful lot of pernicious nonsense and fake news on the internet; but there is also a lot of good stuff; and today’s kids are (I think) adept at telling the difference. They are certainly not prepared to take on trust the stories peddled by old men in frocks.

  • Robster

    Couple of hundred words of good news. The Jesus/god stuff is complete nonsense and the kids are realising this. It’s not rocket science.

  • 1859

    ‘59% of Gen Z identifies as Christian….’ That is still almost two thirds who do see themselves as followers of Christ. Though these figures look encouraging we must not be complacent.Babies, infants, young people must be protected ( or at least be given alternative worldviews) from the monolithic religions whose ultimate survival depends on embedding fanciful falsehoods and downright lies into children’s minds.

  • Laura Roberts

    “Members of Generation Z hold few things dearer than acceptance and inclusivity. They view many moral stances, such as opposing gay marriage, as social stances in line with racism. To them, acceptance means affirmation.”
    Astonishing that anyone could see this as a BAD thing! However, it is important that we humanists take these trends on board. If we want that remaining 59% to recover fully from religion, we must provide a safe and nurturing environment for them to do so.
    We humanists offer the acceptance and inclusivity they crave, and we can offer community and support as well. More than that, our ethics and our narratives (e.g., we all share the same DNA, our bodies are comprised of chemicals formed in exploding stars) are grounded in reality based on scientific inquiry.

  • tonye

    White stated – ‘The degree of spiritual illiteracy is simply stunning …’
    And what difference would that be from most so-called religious people?