Monday, December 17, 2012

CBS News Video: Losing our Religion

Last Sunday, CBS morning news did a wonderful segment on the changing religious habits and beliefs of Americans.  The segment is entitled "Losing Our Religion."  Here is a link to the program:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57559432/losing-our-religion/

Basically, the segment focused on Pew Research which shows the growth in non-believers, skeptics and those who consider themselves spiritual but who are either not following or choosing not to belong to any organized faith. There are interviews with the Pew researchers and also young people concerning their attitude towards religious faith.

The significance of the piece is clear. Organized faith with its strict rules and biblical interpretations of social life and ways of being are clearly out of touch within modern American society and the acceptable mores and beliefs found within the culture.

The program rightly notes that the demographic segment most disconnected and least devotional across all faiths are those people in their 20's and 30's. Typically, just like you grow financial givers and lay leaders in any organization, these young people are now lost to many organized faiths and their houses of worship.

Most faiths in the United States, just like in Europe, are losing those who would become the financial donors and eventual leaders within the faith communities of the future. I believe the trend towards non-faith amongst the young is what scares many in religious authority the most. When they look at worship attendance and see the average age of those sitting, standing or kneeling in the pews for services is 50 or older, then you know you have a problem with your message.

But the problem isn't with the youth. The problem is with the overall inhumane, angry and least rational way faith is conducted in most organized religions. Although most religions preach love, their message is usually turned against acceptance of others. The more negatively rigid the message concerning gay marriage, abortion, child molestation, woman's rights, healthcare, contraception, and the more anti-science your faith chooses to become, the more young people tune out and choose other ways of seeing and interpreting their world and the universe.

So if a faith teaches that one becomes part of the sacred by denying the human and civil rights of others, then that faith typically will lose its least conservative and youngest audience. Precisely those who are needed to continue to propagate the message, raise funds, and take leadership roles to maintain the faith.

Think of modern faith in the United States as the 1970's Levis Suit or the 1980's introduction of New Coke. Products no one really needs which are brought to market and then roundly discarded as worthless by the masses. Granted, the U.S. remains a deeply religious nation, but if the trends continue as they are now it won't be for very long.

2 comments:

  1. I lost my Catholic religion. I wanted to remain a Catholic because my beloved mother was a believer. However, I loved the study of ancient history and I kept coming back to the inconvenient truth that the Roman Emperors mutilated Jesus' legacy of love to make him into a Sun God. The empire had to control the spreading influence of Christianity. Bill Maher's movie, Religulous, illuminates this. I believe Jesus was like Gandhi or Buddha. I had to part ways with the faith of my beloved mother. The child-abuse scandals further alienated me. Now I'm a Nicherin Buddhist. We believe in the mysterious Law of Cause and Effect. We believe the universe is very old and that there are probably many universes. At this time, I just can't make the leap to Atheism. I have a healthy skepticism.

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  2. Hi Anonymous,

    And that's all you need to remain reasoned and rational. We're all seekers - that is what makes us human. Some find it in religion, others in spirituality, and still others in science.

    Clearly, I fall into the last camp and also remain a staunch atheist, but that is my way and I don't pontificate as to how others should live their life.

    Cheers,
    David

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