Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The number of young "nones" continues to skyrocket

There's a new poll out indicating that more and more Americans are parting ways with religion. Indeed, religious affiliation in the United States is now at its lowest point since it began to be tracked in the 1930s. But what struck me about the numbers in this latest survey is the alarming rate of increase in young adults who claim no religious preference. More than one-third of 18-24-year-olds now claim to have no religion.

Three years ago I saw an article about a Pew Research survey that said 20% of young adults claimed to be atheists, agnostics or had "no religion." I was appalled because the same article informed me that 'only' 11% of young Americans gave the same answers in 1988. I tried to go back and find that article of three years ago, but I couldn't locate it. I can't remember the exact age range of young adults in that Pew survey, but I did find that Pew released the results of another survey on October 9, 2012 indicating that 32% of 18-29-year-olds claimed no religion.

So, three years ago I was upset that that we went from 11% of young adults who had no religion to 20% in the span of 22 years. Now I learn that, in the last three years, that number has shot up to 32 or 33+ percent depending on whose survey I read. Isn't this truly alarming?

So I'm asking myself, "What are we going to do about this?" I certainly don't have all of the answers, but I am convinced that the solution, first and foremost, has to be about Christ-followers doing a better job of living and sharing the love of Christ. After all, Jesus said that the greatest commandment, the most important thing we do, is all about love (Mark 12:28-31).  

Jesus' kind of love isn't a sappy, easy thing. His love gives everything, to the point of death, for those who don't deserve it. His love turns the other cheek rather than retaliating. His love forgives those who do us wrong no matter how many times they do us wrong.

This kind of love is hard. But it is attractive to everyone of every age when it is exemplified in daily living.  

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