Young people in America have more freedom to find a religion that suits them than ever before. At the same time, more than one-third of people in their 20s and 30s identify as not being religious. Yesterday on Think, told Lauren Silverman talked with Emma Green, who writes about religion for The Atlantic, about how millennials navigate their spiritual lives.
The KERA Interview
Emma Green on …
… how millennials view religion:
“Becoming less religious is mostly about the way people are relating to religious institutions in America. So the way that they’re relating to established churches or congregations, paying membership dues, seeing themselves as part of a very cleanly defined religious denomination. But in terms of people’s own religious practices, in terms of praying, believing in God … among young people, many are trying to find their own ways of connecting to religious questions and practices even though they’re not necessarily attending church in the way that their parents might have."
… the general trend of millennials identifying as not religious:
“Young people across the country, even people in places like Texas and other places in the South that are highly religious, are finding that they don’t necessarily feel like they are a part of one particular religious group."
… how religion is still relevant:
“There has been a lot of conflict surrounding religion, particularly in the last couple of decades. This covers everything from religious extremism, which has been a question that’s pressing on everyone’s minds, to even just the way religion has played out in politics with Supreme Court challenges on contraception and more. I think that has meant that people are engaging with religious questions in public life frequently, in a way that makes religion again feel salient and relevant.”
…. how millennials are customizing their own belief system:
“A lot of people struggle with what they see as the historical legacy of how people in history have sometimes used religious justifications to do things that they now object to and they struggle with identifying with that historical lineage. I think there’s a connection here to what we’ve been hearing with young people trying to choose their own personal faith. Taking what they want from certain texts, but rejecting what they don't see as valid … In general, you can tie that to the pattern of religious disaffiliation with institutions, which is to say people have problems maybe with the Catholic church as an institution, but they might not want to totally reject, wholesale some of the teachings of the Catholic church."