As Social Issues Drive Young From Church, Leaders Try To Keep Them

8

On Friday, Morning Edition wraps up its weeklong look at the growing number of people who say they do not identify with a religion. The final conversation in the Losing Our Religion series picks up on a theme made clear throughout the week: Young adults are drifting away from organized religion in unprecedented numbers. In Friday’s story, NPR’s David Greene talks to two religious leaders about the trend and wonders what they tell young people who are disillusioned with the church.


According to the Pew Research Center, one-third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation. As Harvard professor Robert Putnam told Greene in the piece that kicked off the series, this trend among young people is tied to religion’s association with socially conservative politics.

“I think the single most important reason for the rise of the unknowns is that combination of the younger people moving to the left on social issues and the most visible religious leaders moving to the right on that same issue.”

Take Melissa Adelman, 30, a participant in a roundtable about religion that Greene had with six young adults. Adelman was raised Catholic but does not call herself one today because she cannot embrace the church’s core beliefs on social issues.

“To me a church that would be welcoming would be one where there wasn’t a male-only hierarchy that made all the rules, and there weren’t these rules about who’s excluded and who’s included and what behavior is acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” she tells Greene.

In Friday’s story, the Rev. Mike Baughman, a United Methodist minister who runs a Christian coffee shop in Dallas, tells Greene that the church is indeed sending the wrong message.

“If the church was known more for our efforts to welcome the stranger than keep them out, I think the church would have greater credibility with rising generations,” says Baughman. “For example, on immigration policies, we’ve taken the wrong stance on that, and they know. The thing is they’re smart enough. A lot of them have grown up in the church and then rejected it. They’ve read the scriptures that talk about the importance of welcoming the stranger, they’ve read the scriptures about the importance of caring for the poor, and when they see that no longer on the lips of those who are in religious authority, they see that the God we present is bankrupt, and that we’re theologically thin in our ability to even speak our own story.”

Written By: Heidi Glenn
continue to source article at npr.org

8 COMMENTS

  1. “To me a church that would be welcoming would be one where there wasn’t a male-only hierarchy that made all the rules, and there weren’t these rules about who’s excluded and who’s included and what behavior is acceptable and what’s not acceptable,”

    How about if the damned philosophy had a shred of evidence in its favour?

  2. “They’ve read the scriptures that talk about the importance of welcoming the stranger, they’ve read the scriptures about the importance of caring for the poor, and when they see that no longer on the lips of those who are in religious authority, they see that the God we present is bankrupt, and that we’re theologically thin in our ability to even speak our own story.”

    They also see the Church and its god as morally bankrupt. Young people today are generally a lot more caring than in the past, I’m convinced, and they see the Church as falling behind fast in its ability to bring itself into line with modern day thinking on many social issues.

  3. Desultory dogma drivel is now being seen by thinking youngsters as baseless old fashioned fraud and fantasy.
    In the USA the anti science hysterical faith freaks are destroying the Republican Party.
    They haven’t the wit to recognise this as fact.

  4. This story to me further highlights what a social construct religion is. Religions are having to shift their stances on social issues to reflect what is currently regarded as “moral” – which indicates that 1. not only do people NOT need religion to decide for themselves what is right and wrong, they BETTER able to determine these things without religion and 2. religion is a bottom up (humans to god) rather than a top down (god to human) affair. In other words, humans created god, not vice-versa.

    On another note, while I appreciate the coverage NPR has given to (hopefully) increasing religious skepticism, I do take issue with their unfortunate choice of words for and in the series. I hear even atheists using words with negative connotations such as “losing religion,” “losing faith,” “nones,” “without belief,” etc. to describe their skepticism about the existence of god(s). I myself prefer to view my atheism in positive terms: enlightenment about the natural world and its processes; freedom from the dictates and dogma of religion; a deeper appreciation for life. Rather than “losing my faith,” I have instead gained knowledge.

  5. they’ve [young people] read the scriptures about the importance of caring for the poor, and when they see that no longer on the lips of those who are in religious authority,

    it’s the hypocrisy that turns them away, and hopefully, a realisation that it’s all based on a belief in a rather nasty, invisible friend.

  6. The 21st Century is already proving difficult for religion, it is asking them to move away from its superstition if it wants to keep on attracting new clients to its organisation and it is struggling to adapt.

  7. One of the preachers was slightly less slimy than the other. They were, of course, both “hopeful” for the future. Well they had to be that, didn’t they. That’s what they get paid for, promising an afterlife n’ all that. The trouble is from their POV, that young people have so many other distractions these days, and they can’t be bothered with all this hell fire and brimstone nonsense. i-phones are far more important, and quite rightly too !

  8. In reply to #3 by hellosnackbar:

    Desultory dogma drivel is now being seen by thinking youngsters as baseless old fashioned fraud and fantasy.
    In the USA the anti science hysterical faith freaks are destroying the Republican Party.
    They haven’t the wit to recognise this as fact.

    Without indoctrination, lot of this nonsense is easily recognised as transparent drivel – by people with an IQ of over 50 !

Leave a Reply