by Lindsey Vallem
Our country long ago was based on the foundation of religion. The rights and freedoms to religion in our country gave people the freedom to belong and give themselves a kind of purpose and meaning in their personal life. That’s one of the reasons why many people chose to settle here years ago. As the country grew more and more diverse, people of all different backgrounds and customs came with it. Though religion is still a huge part of our culture today, we have seen a drop within the last few years.
The Washington Post highlighted a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center saying that, “The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians has dropped nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent. The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board.”
We begin to wonder why there has been a decrease over the years. Are Millennials moving away from religion during their adulthood or was it something that happened in their childhood? Maybe Millennials are less likely to be raised with religion?
Psychology Today says that, “Millennials are the least religious generation in the last 6 decades. If we assume that Americans in the 1950s and earlier were just as religious as those in the 1970s, Millennials are the least religious generation in American history.”
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.
Millennials’ faith in nonreligious institutions also is weaker than they used to be. Pew Research Center says “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. “
What does this mean for our future? If Millennials are the future, then will religion be erased?
Spruce gives us advice by saying, “Have faith in the young adults of today. While Millennials and young adults may not attend church or synagogue regularly or follow the traditional guidelines and tenets of an organized religion like their parents do, they are finding spirituality in a way that works in their lives and allows them the flexibility to explore and learn from their friends and acquaintances, making differences seem less pronounced and finding a shared sense of awe at the world around them.
The questions of who we are? Where we came from? Why we are here? Those questions with or without a high religious attendance or number will not go away. There is a comfort that comes, answers that come, through religion that you cannot find anywhere else and that is why religion is still here today and why it won’t ever just go away.