23 votes

Millennials are leaving religion and not coming back

22 comments

  1. [10]
    Akir
    Link
    I can't seem to find it right now (any google search combining both religion and politics seems to return the same result set), but I remember reading an article about a theory that religion is...

    I can't seem to find it right now (any google search combining both religion and politics seems to return the same result set), but I remember reading an article about a theory that religion is actually formed by politics, and not the other way around. I think this may also be a part of why Millenials are not joining organized religions. With the Republican party choosing again and again to ally with hardcore fundamentalist Christians who have extremely regressive ideals for society, religion is now political and there is meaning behind one's convictions.

    To put things simply, if I am a black woman and I have someone who is asking me to join a religion where black people and women are second class, what reason do I have to join them? Keep in mind that there's nobody forcing this religion on me and there is a church a block or two away that has largely the same ideas except they think black people and women are just as good as anyone else is. Heck, I could go to the next town over where they have a religion where black women are treated like goddesses.

    At the same time, public discourse has really distorted what it means to be religious in the United States. All of Christianity has been lumped into one group, and if you're lucky they might specify "Evangelical" Christians. But the thing is that there is no religion called Christianity; it's a category that holds hundreds or thousands of religions who all believe different things! Even within specific sects, there can be disagreements between churches! And the thing is that few people are educated well enough to tell the difference. And right now Christianity is strongly associated with being hardlined against gay rights and abortion, both of which are extremely unpopular (according to Gallup, they are opposed by 73% and 78% respectively).

    The thing is that there really isn't any other major religions in the US (Islam might have worked, but it's got an even worse name here because of a mixture of 9/11 and xenophobia), and most of the others are not evangelical like Christians tend to be. So until there is a new religious "revival", religion will continue to dwindle in this country.

    10 votes
    1. [5]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      The way I see it, it has only distorted what it means to be religious if your religion is Christianity or Islam. Buddhists are fine. Hindus are fine (aside from the occasional "You wear a beard...

      At the same time, public discourse has really distorted what it means to be religious in the United States.

      The way I see it, it has only distorted what it means to be religious if your religion is Christianity or Islam. Buddhists are fine. Hindus are fine (aside from the occasional "You wear a beard and are brown: you must be an enemy"). Jews are fine. Countless other religions I can't think of right now are also fine.

      But it doesn't help that Christianity is big in the US. Its vocal minority is very vocal.

      So until there is a new religious "revival", religion will continue to dwindle in this country.

      What do you mean by "revival"? Retaking of the meaning of religiousness from the regressive vocal minority?

      9 votes
      1. [4]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        I was actually talking about a specific religious term, also called Christian Revival, but it's in quotes because I didn't mean it specifically for Christians. To put things more simply, I'm...

        I was actually talking about a specific religious term, also called Christian Revival, but it's in quotes because I didn't mean it specifically for Christians. To put things more simply, I'm talking about churches changing in response to changes in society. It's something that actually happens quite often. Think about how much the Catholic and LDS churches have changed over time.

        The problem with the US is that Christianity basically is religion in this country because Christians are OK if you're a different kind of Christian, but they really don't want you to be anything else and especially not islam. That being said, with Christianity as depressed in numbers and social relavancy as it is now, this is probably a great time for other religions to start spreading.

        4 votes
        1. [3]
          BuckeyeSundae
          Link Parent
          I think this change is probably happening too slowly to change how Millennials specifically react to religious rhetoric, but there is some movement from certain protestant organizations and even...

          I think this change is probably happening too slowly to change how Millennials specifically react to religious rhetoric, but there is some movement from certain protestant organizations and even by the Catholic church (which gets a reputation in the States for being conservative, but damn are there some left leaning thinkers in that bunch when you look at South America particularly).

          But with Protestants (where most of this image problem lies), you do see some more left leaning organizations trying to make a dent. The Episcopal church and Lutherans in particular have been trying to slowly change and modernize to try to appeal to younger believers, with mixed success.

          I sort of feel like it'll get to the point where, like Fox News, a gap in the marketplace will be large enough for one sect or another to make a fair bit of headway with appealing to Us Youths(tm). Probably will never be in the cards for me, but I can see the headwinds moving in that direction ... eventually. Like two decades or so from now.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            Akir
            Link Parent
            I'm honestly of two minds when it comes to this topic. One one hand, I think that it's great that religion is adapting to society so it's not a burden like it has been in the past. But on the...

            I'm honestly of two minds when it comes to this topic. One one hand, I think that it's great that religion is adapting to society so it's not a burden like it has been in the past. But on the other hand, it just shows off how bullshit arbitrary religion actually is, especially when it comes to Christian faiths. People are too willing to blindly believe in things before they even understand them, but that's hardly limited to issues of faith.

            6 votes
            1. BuckeyeSundae
              Link Parent
              I tend to see religion in institutional terms more than truth terms (but maybe of course I do, as an atheist with an academic background in history). Any institution that can't shift to the needs...

              I tend to see religion in institutional terms more than truth terms (but maybe of course I do, as an atheist with an academic background in history). Any institution that can't shift to the needs of the current society will struggle to remain relevant in peoples lives, and so it will quickly find itself without much in the way of sustaining power. At that point, the people running the institutions get a choice: (1) stick to their guns and fade away into obscurity, or (2) adapt and try to figure out how to provide some value and meaning in people's everyday lives right now.

              I don't feel at all bad that many religious organizations are being forced to wrestle with this brave new world. Our lives have different relationships with the people around us, with the institutions around us, and with the technology around us. If you can't speak to those differences between the way things were in the 1990s and today, what are you even trying to do?

              6 votes
    2. [4]
      Autoxidation
      Link Parent
      As long as Evangelicals continue to be the loudest, Christianity will continue this trend. They have seriously tainted Christianity in the US. When I imagine a Christian, someone who hates...

      As long as Evangelicals continue to be the loudest, Christianity will continue this trend. They have seriously tainted Christianity in the US. When I imagine a Christian, someone who hates homosexuals, denies evolution, and pushes their religion into public space is the first thing that pops into my mind. This is of their own doing.

      I could see myself getting on board with some type of Christian "realist" (or Christian atheist, as silly as that sounds) movement, as long as it acknowledged the mysticism and focused much more heavily on the good parts of Christianity: love thy neighbor, helping the poor and sick and those less advantaged, but at that point... Is it really even Christian anymore? The good parts of Christianity have been mostly extracted into society as a whole IMO.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        Don't take this as a personal evaluation, but I note that you're misusing the term Evangelical in the same way I was complaining about the Christianity label was abused. I realize that because...

        Don't take this as a personal evaluation, but I note that you're misusing the term Evangelical in the same way I was complaining about the Christianity label was abused. I realize that because nobody knows what the term Evangelical actually means, it has become to refer to the hateful group of christians you just described. It's like how the term "Liberal" has a different meaning in the US than it does in the rest of the world.

        In any case, my friend, it seems like you're looking for a good social club. There are many of them to choose from. You can do service clubs like Lions clubs or Kiwanis, or you can just hang out at your local city's recreation center. If you're looking to do good in this world, I can recommend volunteering at your local Boys & Girl's Club because it's fairly easy work that has a great impact on your community.

        3 votes
        1. Autoxidation
          Link Parent
          That's my point; I'm showing that Evangelical has become synonymous with Christian because they have hijacked the social discussion and the rest of Christianity, at least in the US, has allowed...

          That's my point; I'm showing that Evangelical has become synonymous with Christian because they have hijacked the social discussion and the rest of Christianity, at least in the US, has allowed that to happen. Because of their hate and association with politics, they are the face of Christianity in the US.

          5 votes
        2. anahata
          Link Parent
          I was just talking with a British friend about this, a very atheist British friend, and she’s mentioned that the Church of England is rather closer to this kind of thing, more about the community...

          I was just talking with a British friend about this, a very atheist British friend, and she’s mentioned that the Church of England is rather closer to this kind of thing, more about the community and belonging than the faith. This is the kind of thing (as another atheist) I could tolerate, the kind of thing where it’s more about participating in the community than proselytizing.

          4 votes
  2. [12]
    thundergolfer
    Link
    Religion is quickly becoming a fringe phenomena is first world countries, and thank god for that. The USA is decades behind places like northern Europe, but the trend is clearly towards less...

    Religion is quickly becoming a fringe phenomena is first world countries, and thank god for that. The USA is decades behind places like northern Europe, but the trend is clearly towards less religiosity.

    Ezra Klein had a great podcast on this topic. It's here: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/vox/the-ezra-klein-show/e/62281274

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      Silbern
      Link Parent
      I don't really like using phrases like "behind" in this context, because religiosity is not a single dimensional scale. For example, many northern European countries still have state religions,...

      I don't really like using phrases like "behind" in this context, because religiosity is not a single dimensional scale. For example, many northern European countries still have state religions, enshrined religious taxes for their churches, and some countries don't/didn't even have a fundamental guarantee of religious freedom until recently (Norway's government actively discriminated against non-Lutheran Christians until 2012, since half the government was required to be members of the state church). Using those parameters, most of northern Europe would be "behind" the US, Canada, and all of east asia - the latter region of which regularly reports rates of non-religious identification exceeding 60%, where Denmark's is only 23% for instance.

      5 votes
      1. thundergolfer
        Link Parent
        Sure. What I meant by it was that the USA has far more people identifying as religous than northern Europe. Regarding the first, the USA has a far worse relationship intermixing of church and...

        Sure. What I meant by it was that the USA has far more people identifying as religous than northern Europe.

        state religions, enshrined religious taxes for their churches, and some countries don't/didn't even have a fundamental guarantee of religious freedom

        Regarding the first, the USA has a far worse relationship intermixing of church and state than some countries despite their separation being put in the consitution. Regarding the second, doesn't the USA also have this in the way of tax subsidies for churches?

        3 votes
      2. elcuello
        Link Parent
        That's doesn't see right at all... and where did you hear that?...

        Using those parameters, most of northern Europe would be "behind" the US, Canada, and all of east asia - the latter region of which regularly reports rates of non-religious identification exceeding 60%, where Denmark's is only 23% for instance.

        That's doesn't see right at all... and where did you hear that?

        https://www.pewforum.org/2018/10/29/eastern-and-western-europeans-differ-on-importance-of-religion-views-of-minorities-and-key-social-issues/pf-10-29-18_east-west_-00-02/

        While not completely the same but you get the overall picture and Denmark is almost last in this graph when asked if religion was as a key component of national identity.

        2 votes
    2. [8]
      mrbig
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      The problem is not being religious or not: the problem is intolerance. As a religious man that grew up in a free-thinking environment and was never forced into religion, I find your statement a...

      Religion is quickly becoming a fringe phenomena is first world countries, and thank god for that

      The problem is not being religious or not: the problem is intolerance.

      As a religious man that grew up in a free-thinking environment and was never forced into religion, I find your statement a bit naive. It is true that religion provoked lots of suffering, but it also mitigated it. At the same time, anti-religious regimes were the reason for the death of millions, such as maoism, nazism and stalinism, but no one says the solution is abolishing politics altogether. We focus on improving it. Religion greatly improved my life, and the life of many surrounding me. It is not a cancer that needs to be extinguished, but a legitimate expression of our culture and free will. I have some atheistic friends and we have no conflicts in that regard. The idea that the world can be improved with the elimination of a group is both dangerous and false.

      5 votes
      1. [7]
        thundergolfer
        Link Parent
        Your conflating beleifs and practices with a group of people. The world has been countless times improved by the removal of certain beleifs and practices, and though I don't want to get into a big...

        The idea that the world can be improved with the elimination of a group is both dangerous and false.

        Your conflating beleifs and practices with a group of people. The world has been countless times improved by the removal of certain beleifs and practices, and though I don't want to get into a big thing about it, yes religion as it is understood today could be one such set of beleifs and practices.

        Of course we could transmute religion into some benign or even positive. If I say that by capital-R Religion I mean the world's mainstream Religions as they are practiced today, like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, are you OK with my statement?

        I don't mind much if we convert "Christianity" into a system of beleifs and practices that is essentially indistinguishable from Effective Altruism plus some mysticism.

        6 votes
        1. [3]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          I was always okay with your statement, you can state whatever you want, I just disagreed with it ;) But yes, your answer does make more sense to me.

          If I say that by capital-R Religion I mean the world's mainstream Religions as they are practiced today, like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, are you OK with my statement?

          I was always okay with your statement, you can state whatever you want, I just disagreed with it ;)

          But yes, your answer does make more sense to me.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            thundergolfer
            Link Parent
            By "OK with" I meant that you'd agree. You don't, but that's OK.

            By "OK with" I meant that you'd agree. You don't, but that's OK.

        2. [3]
          Moonchild
          Link Parent
          Effective altruism takes a utilitarian view, while christian teachings are very much deontological.

          Effective altruism takes a utilitarian view, while christian teachings are very much deontological.

          1 vote
          1. thundergolfer
            Link Parent
            I know that. I was making a point that if we change Christianity into something completely different and good I'd be fine with still having religion. It doesn't really matter if that new thing has...

            I know that. I was making a point that if we change Christianity into something completely different and good I'd be fine with still having religion. It doesn't really matter if that new thing has any anchoring to historical Christian thought.

            Those disgusting grifters in evangelical Christian churches that fly around in private jets and rip off their followers have made Christianity about wealth rather than the whole "rich man through the eye of needle" approach and see no problem with it.

            1 vote
          2. mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Consequentialist/Science-lover/Philosophy-aficcionado/Left-winger/Christian-Spiritualist reporting for duty! ;)

            Consequentialist/Science-lover/Philosophy-aficcionado/Left-winger/Christian-Spiritualist reporting for duty! ;)