While the U.S. public in general is becoming less religious, the nation’s youngest adults are by many measures much less religious than everyone else. Indeed, one of the most striking findings in the recently released Religious Landscape Study is that Millennials (young adults born between 1981 and 1996) are much less likely than older Americans to pray or attend church regularly or to consider religion an important part of their lives.
Recently, we sat down with Michael Hout, a professor of sociology at New York University, to examine possible reasons Millennials are generally not as religious as older Americans. Hout, who has spent years studying generational and religious changes in the United States, is the author or co-author of a number of books, including “Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years.”
By many measures of religious commitment, Millennials are less religious than older Americans. Why do you think this is?
Most age differences at any given time are the legacy of the times people grew up in. Many Millennials have parents who are Baby Boomers and Boomers expressed to their children that it’s important to think for themselves – that they find their own moral compass. Also, they rejected the idea that a good kid is an obedient kid. That’s at odds with organizations, like churches, that have a long tradition of official teaching and obedience. And more than any other group, Millennials have been and are still being formed in this cultural context. As a result, they are more likely to have a “do-it-yourself” attitude toward religion.
Is what we’re seeing with Millennials part of a broader rejection of traditional institutions or is organized religion the only institution being affected?
Oh, it is widespread. It’s just easier to quantify religious change because we have such good data on it. But Millennials’ faith in nonreligious institutions also is weaker than they used to be. You see evidence of their lack of trust in the labor market, with government, in marriage and in other aspects of life. General Social Survey data on confidence in the leadership of major institutions show that younger people particularly are not as confident as older adults when it comes to institutions like the press, government and churches. But I think trust is not the whole story.
For one thing, there has been a long list of scandals in recent decades, such as Watergate, that have undone the reputations of major institutions the Greatest Generation trusted. Millennials didn’t grow up trusting these institutions and then had that trust betrayed like older Americans might have. They didn’t trust them to begin with. And these institutions have let people, particularly young people, down.
Are these trends likely to be long term?
I’m reluctant to make predictions, but we can see how things have worked out lately. There used to be this view that there was a religious life cycle, that when you got older and married and had kids you got more active in organized religion. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. In the past 20 years, we really haven’t seen a lot of evidence of that cycle continuing.
With respect to the Catholic Church – lack of trust is fueled by the sexual abuse scandals in the church. What we see across all denominations is a gap emerging between politically liberal and moderate young people and leadership among conservative churches who are taking political positions on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues.
When that happens, people who are politically liberal and not active in a particular church often put distance between themselves and organized religion by answering “none of the above” to questions about religious preference. Moderates show the same tendency, just not as clearly. As a consequence, in the most recent General Social Survey (2014), 31% of political liberals who were raised in a religion had no religious preference compared to just 6% of political conservatives.
On a couple of measures of religiosity – namely belief in heaven and hell and willingness to share their faith with others – Millennials do seem more similar to older Americans. Why is this the case?
I think you see higher levels of these things among Millennials because they require very little in the way of institutional involvement. They also are harbingers of the “make your own way” or “do-it-yourself” religion that characterizes this group.
I think people assume that people who do not belong to an organized religious group reject religion altogether. But many “nones” believe in God and heaven. And spiritual experiences are still attractive for people who don’t go to church. Some people find God in the woods rather than in a church.
I have to admit that the data on “sharing faith” is a bit confounding. But I’m sure many Millennials who said they share their faith don’t mean that they engage in missionary work. The choice of the word “share” is vague, so maybe some of them who answered the question thought of it in a more casual way, as in they discuss religion with others.
A new survey found the top "never churched" cities in the United States -- and West Palm Beach, Florida, topped the list.
According to the research firm, "never churched" adults "have never in their lives regularly attended a church." As a WPTV anchor put it, "The study found that 17 percent of us have never regularly attended church. Santa Barbara, California, and New York City are 2 and 3."
Research firm Barna Group, which conducted the survey, discovered four in 10 adults in the U.S. haven't attended a church service in the past half year.
This mirrors what the Hartford Institute for Religion Research has found over the past couple of years.
By Nicola Menzie , Christian Post Reporter
Dr. David Jeremiah, megachurch pastor, bestselling author and popular Bible teacher, believes the End Times began in 1948, when a nation that features prominently in the Bible was re-established as a state for the first time in 2,000 years. In fact, considering "the whole scope of world history," Jeremiah would have to conclude that "yes, we are in the End Times," or Earth's last days
“I personally believe that the End Times, in the sense of Bible prophecy, probably started for us in 1948 when Israel became a nation, because many of the prophecies in the New Testament especially, could not be fulfilled until Israel was at home in her nation," Jeremiah told The Christian Post.
The Shadow Mountain Community Church senior pastor, who took over that position from another prophecy buff, Dr. Tim LaHaye, examines perhaps one of the most intriguing books of the Bible in his latest work, Agents of the Apocalypse.
In Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times, Jeremiah examines the Book of Revelation through 10 distinct characters or groups, including "The Exile," "The Martyrs," "The Two Witnesses," and "The Dragon." Each chapter opens with a "a fictional element," intended to help readers fully grasp the meaning of the apocalyptic work, explained Jeremiah.
Two Christian pastors and a deacon have each been given six-year sentences by an Iranian court. A persecution watchdog group has expressed concern over the development, noting that the prisons are isolated and will force the men's families to travel great distances to see them.
"We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors [Benham] Irani and [Matthias] Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper.
"We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party."
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“[Thanksgiving and Prayer] We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”