why millennials are leaving the church really

why millennials are leaving the church really July 30, 2013
why millennials are leaving the church cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
Clicking on this image will take you to a magical place full of art!

Rachel Held Evans writes for CNN’s religion blog on “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church”. I like what she has to say and am in agreement with much of it. This one sentence summarizes her opinion well:

“…the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates…”

She continues later:

“What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.”

The “substance” Held Evans is speaking of is: an end to culture wars; a truce between science and faith; positive rather than antagonistic values; the right to ask questions; kingdom of God over party politics and nationalism; LGBT rights; and holiness in matters of sex as well as social justice. In a nutshell, she concludes:

“…we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there… Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.”

I hear where she’s coming from. I agree that the church is fascinated with tweaking but not transforming itself. I agree there needs to be substantial change. I think maybe some millennials might want change in substance. But not all. So I would like to push Rachel Held Evans’ argument a little further and suggest that most millennials just don’t care what the church does. It is actually dead to them already.

You can change the style. You might keep some. You can change the substance. You might keep more. The substantial change people are talking about, in my opinion, is not substantial enough. Again, the substantial changes suggested are, in their own way, a more radical form of tweaking. I suspect a much deeper change is coming because the church is becoming not only less and less relevant, but less and less necessary. The suggested substantial changes can now be achieved without the aide or even presence of the church. This is the church’s problem that it doesn’t seem willing or able to admit. The church is gaping down the throat of its own death and can’t face it.

The millennials I know don’t even think about the church. It never crosses their minds. It doesn’t appear within the scope of their needs. As their fierce sense of spiritual independence grows, the need for external spiritual authorities, institutions and venues shrinks. I think that even using such words as “belief”, “faith”, “church”, “kingdom of God”, and “Jesus” betrays a desperate devotion to a passing paradigm.

The metaphor of death and resurrection applies here. Death, of course, means the end of everything. The story of Jesus’ death is not a mock up, staged, or, as some gnostic theologians taught, partial. It was total annihilation. Complete death. An utter and tragic end to all of it.

Of course, this then sets the stage for the powerful metaphor of resurrection… something totally new and, compared to the old, barely even recognizable. This is what we are resisting because of our attachment to what is and our premonitory grief for its passing.

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  • Jim Wehde

    My favorite comment from the article: “Millennials long for faith
    communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling
    with doubt.”

  • Wayne Rumsby

    Spoken like a true post-emergent.

  • wanderer

    I really agree with what you’re saying here. Thanks.

  • Aviatrix

    Yeah, what Wayne said! 🙂

  • Kimberley Debus

    I’ve heard it said that the church experiences a major shift once every 500 years; last time, Luther sent 95 shots across the bow. I think we’re seeing the start of the next major shift, where the argument isn’t about how we define ourselves but what we do.

  • What we do. YES!

  • Shadow Spring

    Once you stop attending- and for me I was pushed out for not being anti-gay enough- a marvelous thing happens. Nothing. God does not strike you dead, or stop loving you, or swallow your house in a sinkhole. Your relationship with God remains as before, what you put into it, what you get out of it. His mercy continues to extend to all generations. And then you discover it extends to all nationalities and even all religions and even no religion! Wow! The majestic love of God, in my experience, just keeps expanding. Makes me wonder why I ever thought it was contained inside an organization to begin with?

  • Jeannie Boen

    Here’s my problem that I deal with. There is nothing to really replace the church community in my life. Sure there are online communities. David has an excellent one. But sometimes, one needs skin.

  • Brigitte

    She also says: “Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. –precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.”

  • “one needs skin”. yes.

  • you’re welcome wanderer.

  • Brett FISH Anderson

    Some great and true stuff here. I do wonder though if defining what is meant by ‘church’ might be key to this discussion from both you and Rachel because in essence it feels like you are talking more about the Sunday meeting than the body of Christ.

    So this – “Millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling
    with doubt.” – can happen in a group of Jesus-loving-and-following people but not necessarily on a sunday during that meeting and so whether it is a mid-week cell group or bible study or prayer time or whether it is a bunch of Christ-following people sharing a meal and a conversation together or some friends meeting at an early morning coffee stop before work, when the body of Christ gets together and starts being the body of Christ then that for me is church.

    For me it is not so much about losing or shutting down the sunday meeting but recognising that church is so much bigger – one example is those organisations we refer to as para-church or ‘outside of the church’ so ‘not really church’ – they are usually Christ-following people doing kingdom of God things and for me a reading of the Bible defines that as church – is it good to have a regular group of people you meet and conspire with? absolutely – for the most part it is probably the healthiest way to go… but is it the only way?

    i really think adding that definition into the midst of this discussion would be so helpful because a lot of the points being made feel like they are about the sunday thing and not necessarily the Jesus-following communion of people one…

  • Alice Dean Spicer

    In light of Kimberley Debus’s “shift” comment and Brett FISH Anderson’s clarification on the definition of church, I hope you don’t mind me posting this video link, which addresses both, and then some. I think your cartoon is funny – that’s pretty much how I left the church. I wasn’t officially kicked out, but I wasn’t allowed to be anything other than a seat warmer – because I challenged orthodox views via my blog. Your blog is insightful, although I disagree with some of the paragraph ending in “desperate devotion to a passing paradigm.” Also, I see a disconnect between the cartoon and the actual blog, like the one doesn’t belong to the other. Am I missing something?


    If every “church” forever closed its doors, the “church” would still be alive and kicking. This ought to evidence how there are two very different concepts, and unfortunately, just one word regularly used to describe both.

  • Ryan Hite

    This is exactly what we are looking for,… so why are all the churches getting it wrong?

  • RonCowie

    The Episcopal Church welcomes you.

  • John Fleming

    An interesting and respectful entry to the conversation. I especially appreciate the point that the very words we use to describe what–we assume–Millennials and, for that matter, all people are seeking betray “a desperate devotion to a passing paradigm. But I would offer this caveat: people always have and always will “believe” something … they may not have described it as faith and certainly people who have the lack of consciousness of church described here wouldn’t use that word. Belief, however, is something qualitatively different, I think. It is an extrapolation based on something a person has experienced, reasoned, or learned, and it is present not just in religious systems of thought, but in every philosophical system, including scientific theory. Some beliefs, obviously, can be “proven” more fully by means of observation than others, but I think that there can be no progress in thought that doesn’t begin as belief, whether or not it is verifiable.

    Just some thoughts … thanks for writing.

  • NoGodPlease

    I think millennials are leaving the church because people today are too smart to be suckered in to your two thousand year old dogma…

  • Rebecca Trotter

    I have a 14 year old son who tends to fixate on a chosen topic for a couple of months at a time and then bore me to pieces with minutia like, “can you believe that the Dark Side of the Moon was recorded on a whim in a closet and they didn’t even realize that they were making a concept album? And it turned out to be one of the greatest concept albums of all time! Isn’t that amazing?” (For a while it was Trent Rezner who apparently is really scary. Same thing for some scientist named Stolkhousen. And if you ever want to know anything about Huntsman spiders, go ask him. I wasn’t really listening.)

    Anyways, one day I was a little frustrated with this habit and said, “couldn’t you fixate on something important like theology? Or decide to learn everything you can find out about Moses or something? That would be an interesting conversation to me!”

    He responded, “Mom, that’s your thing. What you’ve taught me makes sense and I feel like I understand life pretty well in light of it. I want to live the way that you’ve taught me Jesus says to. I pray. So I don’t really need to worry about it. So now I’m free to do other things. Like learning all about the marketing schemes Trent Rezner used when he launched his second album.”

    And something in me said, “I think I’ve just seen the future of the church.”

  • LaurieInSeattle

    The elephant in the room, which nobody wants to talk about: The Republican party. American Christianity had been so corrupted by the melding of politics and religion that Jesus wouldn’t recognize what our country has created. It’s a toxic mix of worshiping the rich, hating the poor and trying to find something in the fine print that allows us to NOT be that good Samaritan who helps someone unlike himself.

    Millennials can see this, because they’re seeing the end result, i.e. what we have now. Their elders, on the other hand, went through the process from the beginning and gradually became acclimated, like a frog in boiling water.

    Until and unless we address this and get past the notion that ALL Christians must vote a certain way, the church is doomed.

  • Great story Becc. Sounds like a fascinating boy.

  • BrotherRog

    A big part of why many are leaving the Church is because they aren’t aware of progressive Christianity or progressive Christian congregations. Granted, this isn’t the only reason – but it’s tragic that so many folks aren’t aware that there is a form of the faith that many of them would actually like a lot.

    That said, IMO, her article wasn’t merely about why folks are leaving the Church. It was also conveying what they’re looking for in the Church.

    Ultimately, let’s just be as faithful as we can be and not worry about dying. We have no fear of death for we follow a savior who gave it all up for the sake of others. I have no fear of the death of the Church — as I trust and know in my bones that God will continue to love His/Her people in fresh new ways.

    Roger Wolsey, author, “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity”

  • yowie9644

    Yup, agree. The month my 9yo boy was going to receive his First Communion, we went to other churches and even the places of worship of other religions just so he could see how other people did things; what we all had in common, and what was different.

    His favourite, by far, was the traditional Anglican (Episcopalian) service, in a “classic” church (with the bell, and the stained glass windows, and the altar etc) with the hymns, the prayer book, the Lord’s Supper and the *solemnity* of it all. Straight after that service, we went to the Modern Anglican in the same diocese – the pastor was the same man (although he’d take off his robes) and the sermon was the same, but the rest of the service was more like a rock concert. My 9yo son *hated* it, even as far as saying it was “disrespectful”.

    The Rock Concert style certainly suited me better in my youth, but each generation is different, and perhaps getting back to a more quiet still and reflective service may suit the Millennial’s who live in a very fast, very busy information-overload world.

  • tanyam

    This is the best thing I’ve read on this whole bruhaha. Briefly put: “Maybe they’re just not that into us.”
    Maybe they don’t need a place to express their doubts, or to do good deeds, or have “community.” Heck, they can do great stuff without a church. Maybe they don’t even care about our rainbow flags or that we’re cool with the Dalai Lama and evolution too. Maybe they just don’t care. I’m happy for those things — but I recognize many of my friends really could care less.
    If we knew the first 1000 years of Church history, we’d know that some places that were once very Christian, now no longer are. By all means, if we’re Christian, let’s keep following Jesus, but maybe we need to let go of thinking “if only they really knew us, if only we became something sorta diferent, they’d love us.” Times change. Maybe we’ll become a minority for a generation or two at least. I think we just need to get on with doing our thing. Rachel’s got some good points, let’s pay attention — but let’s not think we can completely turn this ship around if it really doesn’t want to be turned around. And plenty of us seem to be missing that point.

  • well put tanyam.

  • klhayes

    The Christian Industrial Complex has risen to power by an alliance of religion which should represent justice, community and selflessness with corporations which represent unadulterated greed. It pumps out
    theocorporatists who use religion to achieve monetary wealth and political power. I think people are beginning to see that. But it is very dangerous.

  • klhayes

    You are right-I never stopped believing in God.

  • Bernice McCann

    The severely poor will always need the the instilled by the churches, mosques and temples etc. I am comfortable with your not needing the church but for me I love the light to much.

  • Michael S. Mulberry

    Heck, I feel like the elephant in the living room is the fact that God never promised numerical success as a sign of faithfulness. Can we quit with the idea that if we get it right people will start flocking into the pews like some grand mythical time from yesteryear? The fact is I don’t want my church necessarily moving with suburban demographics (where do we think those white flight people will move and can we build a church there?) or moving with the culture (After all, isn’t that the big reason people flocked into Christian churches at one time?).

    Yes, we are called to figure out how we might be faithful with each generation, and we, as the institutional church, have struggled with that. But I mean to tell you, folks, if I was more faithful in my interpretation of issues like immigration and the poor, I would probably not only lose members from each generation, I would probably be booted from the church. If we are going to use agricultural metaphors for the work we are doing, we have to look at words like “sustainability” and “resiliency” for our faith communities. I work hard to try to tread the line between prophetic stupidity and institutional survival. What I hope is that I am faithful, helping to lead and build a community that is sustainable, resilient, and faithful itself.

    Some of what is inherent in some of these articles is the “shaming” of a bunch of people who are trying their level best in faith communities with little to no numerical success. And, glory be, it seems that much success is to be had among house churches and small groups where intimacy and connection happens. Maybe the mainlines need to find a way to incorporate such faith expressions with amazing wider church ministries that speak to world issues?

  • I think the answer should be obvious. Heaven is getting quite full with all the good God-fearing people of yesteryear and the GodHead has decided that the Holy Spirit should slacken off a bit on motivating the younger generations to accept the Christian Dogma.

  • Cynically Inclined

    My imagery for it is of is of the Religious Right, with
    their mix of religion and politics, eating their seed corn. By
    promoting the false dicotomy of their way or you’re not a real
    christian, they may have cut down the flow of people from conservative
    to more liberal churches. But they haven’t really cut down the number of people which inevitably flow out of conservative Christianity. Instead, they’ve helped redirect people like me out of Christianity and into agnosticism and atheism.

    The end result is they haven’t really grown conservative Christianity, just helped push non-conservative, not-Chrstianity and religious apathy mainstream. And conservative Christianity is so tied to the older generations, it now wains as the generations change. They’ve eaten their seed corn for some temporary political power.

  • SG12

    I enjoyed reading this. I introduced Brian McLaren’s “Why did Jesus, Moses, The Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road” to my Husband. You articles remind me of some of his ideas. Thanks for the post.

  • sarahagnew

    Is the question ‘irrelevance’ ? Or is it a question of relationships?

    at a TEDx event, and an interdisciplinary conference this May, I observed a longing for community.
    I observed the building of community through sharing stories – authentically telling our own stories, respectfully hearing the stories of others, and celebrating the various discoveries and perspectives we each bring.

    can the Christian church let go of being church – the security of institution and dogma and tradition – so that we can be in relationship with God and all that lives, healthy, life-giving, relationships that lead to peace … ?

  • twinkie1cat

    Sounds like the Republican party. And the fundamentalist church has labeled itself Republican. It’s not about mindless praise choruses and religion “lite” while the preacher tells people it’s not the government’s responsibility to care for the poor and glbt people are bad. It’s about the very genuine values that Jesus Christ told us about. They are not hearing what they need, strong, real, positive things to guide their life. The fundies have put lipstick on a pig and didn’t even bother to wash its face first. That fake political Christianity is not what appeals to the youth of our day. Bobby Jindal, the head of the Republican Governor’s Conference and the really hideous and dictatorial governor of Louisiana has said it plainly. In order to appeal to minorities and young people, the GOP is going to have to re-package itself. He has no intention of actually changing their messed up values. He just wants to put them in a new, more appealing box. Expect the fundies to follow.

    But, remember, 20 somethings tend to drop out of church anyway. The big concern needs to be whether they will come back when they’re 30 after they have been given slurpy goody, goody religion and right wing politics when they were children and youth. The churches need to be teaching the kids and teens the Bible now. They need a strong background in the words and mission of Jesus Christ and the morality plays of the Old Testament as well. They don’t need to be painting their fingernails in Sunday School like one teacher did. That way, if they get lost in their 20s, they have something to come back to. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

  • twinkie1cat

    Thank the Lord. I quit going for a while too, but I never stopped believing. Then I found a church again. This time it was MCC even though I am not gay, because of the way they treat people.

  • twinkie1cat

    Exactly! Our pastor often prefaces his more controversial sermons by saying that we don’t have to believe everything he says. He knows we have people with various religious backgrounds and no religious backgrounds, although we are predominantly recovering Catholics and Pentecostals. He is recovering Church of God. (Think Southern Baptist on steroids.) He also knows we have at least 3 Republicans, one of whom is politically active. We have also had people who were kicked out of Bethany, an independent that does not allow questioning the pastor’s theology and borders on being a cult.

  • Lausten North

    I’ve seen a couple blogs on this. You did the best job of stating the problem. I was hoping you were going to provide a couple actions items.

  • William Colburn

    They are getting it wrong because they truly can’t see that they are wrong. The churches do corporately what Lauren Green did individually as a reporter with Reza Aslan. The ‘LG Effect’.

  • klhayes

    I agree and I read an article about how Liberal churches don’t do as well as conservative churches b/c they don’t put strict demands on people. One thing they failed to address is that for many of us, a liberal church is likely the final step on the way out. It’s the “I am giving this one more try” attitude.
    And even my “liberal” church was not as liberal as I thought it was at first. There was always this element afraid of change and doing things such as trying to make the contemporary service more traditional. Even the new younger pastor was afraid to use technology. We were always being held back. I have given up on church all together.

  • Phil from Philadelphia

    Very interesting discussion. I was born and bred Baptist (my dad was a pastor), and find it awkward not to go to church on Sunday morning. Granted, I left the Baptist church some 15 years ago, but Sunday morning is sacred time for me. Call it nature or nurture, it works for me as I attend a non-denominational, liberal community (not mega) church- traditional in style, but very sound spiritually. That being said, my 28 year old son and 32 year old daughter have not attended services in their respective locations for those 15 years. I don’t blame them- we as a family were forced out of a mainline Baptist church because we questioned the lack of women in leadership. The scars linger.

    Don’t blame the Republicans entirely. Blame the arch-conservatives still living in the 1950’s, longing for a time when women and minorities knew their place. Personally, I have found that those seeking shelter from the restrictions and hierarchy in the Catholic church are just as numerous, but still seeking a place in an accepting congregation. Or they have just dropped out.

  • Your kid sounds a bit like he has Aspergers. This fixation thing where he becomes extraordinarily interested in and knowledgable of some arcane topic even if it bores everyone else, the wholly independent thought processes etc are all very aspie. (And this isn’t meant as a put down, I’m an aspie too and your kid sounds like me in that respect.)

  • Rebecca Trotter

    I’ve thought the same thing myself. But he’s really sensitive to other people’s emotions (except for boredom and irritation) and is missing a couple of other markers to be properly Aspie. But at the very least he’s right on the edge of the spectrum. I think he’s best described as a nerd – ie someone who is way to excited about the things he likes. He has befriended a couple of kids on the spectrum over the years and notices that their differences, but I think he “gets” them more than most people do. He’s really a good kid, even if he drives me nuts sometimes!

  • tonilaura


  • Agni Ashwin

    Baptist born, Baptist bred….well, I know how that goes.

  • Agni Ashwin

    Two months is a lot of time.

  • I really like what this article is saying. I grew up Southern Baptist, and I always felt like something was wrong, but I was afraid to say anything. Its only been in last two years, since I started going to a Christian Liberal Arts College, that I have truly wrestled with God and my beliefs as a Christian, and it is this wrestling with God , that has made my relationship with him much deeper. I was taught to read the Bible as a child, and NEVER question anything period, but now I question EVERYTHING and it has made me a more compassionate, and carrng person. I can now see that the teaching of Jesus is really the most important part, we must learn to truly LOVE people, and stop judging them reagardless of their race, religion, history, whatever. Thank you pastor, for writing this article, and showing these truths.

  • Gary

    As a staunch Republican my entire life (Now I don’t claim the party) I am literally heartsick at what the religious right has done to conservatism. I do not believe the vocal and radical right wing represents the true values of the party at all. Frankly I believe the two party system is irreparably broken from both sides and our country is headed into a very dark time.

    As an active Christian my entire life (Now I don’t participate in organized religion at all) I am literally heartsick at what the religious right has done to the faith. I do not believe the vocal and radical right represents the true values of Christianity at all. Frankly I believe the church is irreparably broken and is headed into a future (or perhaps is already there) of complete irrelevance.

    I do not believe Jesus would recognize either one of them.

  • Gary, I appreciate your statements here. In a two-party system (as opposed to coalition governments) each of the two parties must form coalitions within themselves to win elections that often make for strange bed-fellows. I’ll be happy when the religious right runs its course as a political/social/theological movement.

  • Alice

    I’m in the same place. My parents sent me to a Christian college specifically so that my beliefs wouldn’t be challenged, but it was college that taught me to ask tough questions and not take anything for granted. I am much better off because of it.

  • Universalist

    There was a time before the information age, where the only information came from a) The Library or b) Religion. Now we have way more information and can make better judgements.

    We, Millennial’s, are the first internet generation who can see quite clearly the tactics used by many corrupt and religions, we can test what we hear against the plethora of knowledge on the internet and realize the lies about God that they have taught our parents and by religion in our churches.

    Lack of love is not the issue. Even the Bible, Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Anyone who actually read the words of Jesus would know he was against the corrupt religion of his time, and regardless of what any man in religion will say today, your religion is corrupt and we want nothing to do with your churches.

    I agree that many parents are not prepared for the intelligence their children have acquired and cannot easily refute the information that we bring to the table. Yes, much our interests are not considered ‘godly’, we enjoy music, art, and social media. We enjoy science, philosophy, mechanics, computers, sports and other things with a far greater understanding of our hobbies than our parents. We fill disconnected to our elders because they do not share our interests in the same manner.

    The information age is here, and religion is slow to adopt or understand it’s place in such a world.

  • Alice

    Technology has had a huge impact. Because of the plethora of information and because we can talk to people all over the world who are from very different backgrounds from ourselves. I grew up home-schooled by very paranoid parents, and then went to a Christian college. Without the internet, it would have been a lot harder to meet atheists, progressives, etc and learn so much from them.

  • Steve Jones

    I am so happy to have found the United Church of Christ (UCC)! They truly welcome EVERYONE, and their stand on Social Justice is very important to me also. I also am happy to be among many wonderful and caring people that think much like I do….and I find them to be so much more like Jesus. 🙂 ucc.org

  • eeenok

    there’s a necessity factor that isn’t explicitly stated here … that communities used to be sufficiently close knit and homogenous that attending church along with the rest of your tribe was relatively unchallenged as a moral necessity, although church-goers have generally attempted to describe this attendance impulse in more abstract and theological language. this moral imperative has clearly been loosened as the boundaries between groups have become more porous and cultures have become more inclusive, and it seems to me this disappearing element has been the lynchpin of quite a lot of the other traditional features of religion that are now disappearing

  • Missy Elizabeth

    And do you feel as if you are committing sin by being a “homosexual sympathizer” or not living “sinless” enough (my mother was reminiscent of Carrie’s mother, EVERYTHING was a sin)

  • Jeannie Boen

    I hope my Aspie daughter can make a friend or two like your son someday. I totally get you on the fixations. Currently my daughter is fixated on the Big Bang theory (not the show) the cosmology theory. And I feel like my head is going to explode listening to her sometimes.

  • Kye Pickens

    Oh please…if by restrictions, you mean following a commitment to social justice and administering to the poor, then rock on! I’m not sure how a born & bred Baptist who has not been in church for 15 years can comment on another denomination’s beliefs, but maybe you should read a newspaper & read a little about how MANY Catholics believe and how it actually corresponds with the Church’s teachings. Hint* it’s about loving others, even if we aren’t the same. People, millennials or not, drop out of religion the way they drop out of sports, college classes, employment, or marriages for the same reason–it’s too HARD. There are a lot of things I disagree with in regards to about every religion…but the majority of people aren’t actually leaving because they disagree with particular tenements; they leave because they have other things to do.
    Maybe if you would have stayed, you could have influenced the discussion. Instead, you showed your children that quitting because you disagreed was a better option. No wonder they haven’t been to a service in 15 years! As the article states, change DOES happen. But, guess what? It doesn’t happen when you don’t show up. And, it definitely doesn’t happen when that’s what you teach the next generation.

  • It’s something of a mistaken stereotype that people with aspergers are insensitive to other peoples’ emotions:


  • Really?

  • I don’t find any of those liturgical forms to be refreshing for myself, personally – but overwhelmingly restrictive and monotonous.

  • On the other hand, just because someone brings in a rock band doesn’t mean they really know how to have a quality modern praise and worship time. It reminds me much of this piece:


  • L. Milton Hankins

    No question about it. Folks who follow this blog and its responses would certainly like to read my book “A Sensible Theology for Thinking People.” I am a retired Southern Baptist minister who writes on contemporary issues in theology that affect our faith and our lives. The book is available on Amazon and in local bookstores.

  • disqus_zLY0jsDmax

    Easy to write about the decline of religion but more difficult to prove. We are engaging in Confirmation bias by reporting that the young are leaving religion in droves and stating an hypothesis for why. The facts are not so clear and we need to be truthful in our reporting. In a recent Pew Research Report it states:

    “At the same time that the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown, the Landscape Survey also revealed that the unaffiliated have one of the lowest retention rates of any of the major religious groups, with most people who were raised unaffiliated now belonging to one religion or another. Those who leave the ranks of the unaffiliated cite several reasons for joining a faith, such as the attraction of religious services and styles of worship (74%), having been spiritually unfulfilled while unaffiliated (51%) or feeling called by God (55%).

    One of the key findings of the Landscape Survey was that the unaffiliated population is a very diverse group. Not all those who are unaffiliated lack spiritual beliefs or religious behaviors; in fact, roughly four-in-ten unaffiliated individuals say religion is at least somewhat important in their lives. The new survey shows that a significant number of those who left their childhood faith and have become unaffiliated leave open the possibility that they may one day join a religion. Among both those who were raised Catholic and Protestant who are now unaffiliated, for example, roughly one-in-three say they just have not found the right religion yet.”

    In fact, the “unaffiliated” individuals who were raised in an environment free of any religion were at least twice as likely to join a religion than those who were raised in a religion and then became “unaffiliated”.