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TEXAS FAITH 24: Why are millennials dropping out?


Dallas Morning News,

Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.

In this piece for Politics Daily, the Dallas Morning News' Jeff Weiss did some digging into a Pew Center report about the religious identity of "millenials," which is the name for those Americans who are younger than 30.

Weiss picked up first on this part of the report:

"Fewer young adults belong to any particular faith than older people do today. They also are less likely to be affiliated than their parents' and grandparents' generations were when they were young. Fully one-in-four members of the Millennial generation -- so called because they were born after 1980 and began to come of age around the year 2000 -- are unaffiliated with any particular faith. Indeed, Millennials are significantly more unaffiliated than Generation Xers were at a comparable point in their life cycle (20 percent in the late 1990s) and twice as unaffiliated as Baby Boomers were as young adults (13 percent in the late 1970s)."

But then he noted this seemingly contradictory finding:

"Young adults' beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles closely resemble the beliefs of older people today. Though young adults pray less often than their elders do today, the number of young adults who say they pray every day rivals the portion of young people who said the same in prior decades. And though belief in God is lower among young adults than among older adults, Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago."

Weiss then reaches this conclusion:

Which says to me that young adults are not losing faith, just unplugging from religious institutions at a rate unprecedented in U.S. history.

One theory that has been advanced is that the disengagement has to do with the entanglement of conservative politics with religion. Weiss, for example, cites the work of Harvard professor Robert Putnam and Notre Dame professor David Campbell. They claim in a study that:

"Young Americans are dropping out of religion at an alarming rate of 5-6 times the historic rate (30-40 percent have no religion today versus 5-10 percent a generation ago)...But youth's religious disaffection is largely due to discomfort with religiosity having been tied to conservative politics....We find that the increase was not connected to a loss of religious piety, and that it was connected to politics. In the 1990s many people who had weak attachments to religion and either moderate or liberal political views found themselves at odds with the conservative political agenda of the Christian Right and reacted by renouncing their weak attachment to organized religion."

So, with that setup, here's this week's question:

That's their take? What is yours? Assuming the Pew Center data is correct, why are young adults unplugging from religious institutions at such a high rate?

Read on for our panelist’ thoughts:

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

"Religion without philosophy is sentiment and sometimes fanatacism.

Philosophy without religion is mental speculation". -Srila Prabhupada

The nature of the self, the soul, is that it is eternal, full of happiness, and knowledge. But in our conditioned state of identifying the body as the self, our original nature is covered. Therefore, people in general will always have a hankering for substantial happiness and knowledge and those souls who are pious and intelligent seek these items from non-temporary sources.

The cause of disinterest in religious institutions is that knowledge of God is generally not presented with a background of intelligent, sound philosophy and the teachers themselves do not emulate the teachings in action. One can only become a doctor by learning from an expert doctor in medical school. Books alone are not sufficient.

Similarly, one can only be inspired to become a saint by the expert guidance of a teacher of saintly character. However, such saintly teachers who teach by example are a rarity in our modern instant gratification world.

Hare Krishna :)

Your humble servant,

Nityananda Chandra Das

To see all the responses from the Texas Faith Panel click here


Sun, 03/14/2010 - 07:30 — vagisha.vasudev

vagisha.vasudev's picture

Vagisha Vasudev Perfect

Vagisha Vasudev

Perfect reason Prabhuji!!!!!!!!!!!


Sun, 03/14/2010 - 12:53 — NityānandaChandra

NityānandaChandra's picture

Thank you for your

Thank you for your encouragement