The Church and Young People

Millenials may be the least religious generation in sixty years (at least), according to a different study than the Pew survey I’ve been talking about.

Compared to the late 1970s, twice as many 12th graders and college students never attend religious services, and 75 percent more 12th graders say religion is “not important at all” in their lives. Compared to the early 1980s, twice as many high school seniors and three times as many college students in the 2010s answered “none” when asked their religion.

The authors suggest this is part of a trend toward rising individualism in U.S. culture.

But maybe the problem is the internet. An article in the MIT Technology Review says that maybe the Internet is taking away America’s religion:

However, the number of people with a religious upbringing has dropped since 1990. It’s easy to imagine how this inevitably leads to a fall in the number who are religious later in life. In fact, Downey’s analysis shows that this is an important factor. However, it cannot account for all of the fall or anywhere near it. In fact, that data indicates that it only explains about 25 percent of the drop.

I’ll repeat what I said a couple of weeks ago (quoting Andy Stanley):

If your church is designed by 50 year-olds for 50 year-olds to the neglect of teenagers, shame on you.

And I’ll add this, from Peter Hitchens’ excellent The Rage Against God, challenging the idea, popular with the modern crowd of militant atheists, that teaching faith to children is a form of child abuse:

We read to the young, show them beautiful things, introduce them to good manners, warn them against dangers, teach them their letters and multiplication tables, and make them learn poetry by heart, precisely because they are most impressionable in childhood—and therefore best able to learn these things then, in many cases long before they can possibly understand why they matter. In the same way, we warn them against various dangers that they cannot possibly understand. It is also true, as I think most observant parents know, that children are much more interested in the universe and the fundamental questions of existence than are adults.

(He goes on to ask what would replace such teaching, anyway? It is “ridiculous to pretend that it is a neutral act to inform an infant that the heavens are empty, that the universe is founded on chaos rather than love, and that his grandparents, on dying, have ceased altogether to exist.”)

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