A new five-year study on the Millennial Generation (those born between 1982 and 1993) has just been released by the Barna Group, a Christian research firm. It shows that young Christians – particularly those interested in scientific and creative fields – are leaving their churches. This is particularly true of more conservative congregations.
But why? The Barna Group has identified six major factors that are driving young people away from religion:
In an article for Alternet, Elanor Bader interviewed some former evangelicals to get their take on the results. Brittany Shoot, a writer and activist, spoke about her own experience moving away from her church:
“When I was a child I was told that someone I cared about was HIV-positive. I somehow learned that he was gay and had contracted the virus through sex. There was such shame around the diagnosis. I knew that I shouldn’t tell anyone he was sick because they might shun me. Even as a kid I thought, ‘something is wrong here.’” Later, when Shoot was in high school, a friend disclosed his homosexuality. “You didn’t come out in the Christian culture we lived in,” she says. “He didn’t feel safe; we also knew that no church in the area would love and protect him.”
Shoot mentions that, while she no longer attends services, she finds many progressives’ bashing of religion to be harmful and counterproductive. “Most people who’ve moved away from evangelism still have family members who are religious,” she says.
It would be interesting to see if these young people are leaving Christanity altogether, or simply joining more progressive churches. Those numbers didn’t appear to be included in the report.
Photo credit: Barron Fujimoto
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