Church attendance among 18 to 24-year-old evangelical Christians is down 43%, according to David Kinnaman, author of “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church and Rethinking Faith.” This sharp drop represents the number of times these believers visited church between their teenage and young adult years… and the news is sobering for Republican presidential hopefuls.
66% of Barack Obama’s 2008 supporters were under the age of 30, indicating that the Republican party needs to hold strong with its young adult voters in order to triumph in the 2012 election. But many beliefs touted by evangelical organizations, including abstinence until marriage and anti-gay sentiments, have many religious young adults questioning their beliefs.
Laura Sessions Step of CNN writes:
These young [church] dropouts value the sense of community their churches provide but are tired of being told how they should live their lives. They don’t appreciated being condemned for living with a partner, straight or gay, outside of marriage or opting for abortion to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.
Many people stop going to church during their teenage and young adult years, but return to the fold after settling down for marriage, kids and a mortgage. The members of the new generation, however, are holding off on these important rites of adulthood until later than Americans ever have before. The longer a person stays away from church, the less likely he or she is to return. It is unclear whether young evangelicals who leave the church will ever find the motivation to join a congregation again, especially if church views remain unchanged.
But will disillusioned evangelicals go so far as to support Obama in his reelection campaign? So far, the Democratic party has “done little to reach out to younger voters.” Some may continue to vote Republican in support of their conservative upbringing; others may not vote at all. The young adult evangelical demographic is a powerful one, and one that the Democratic party should be careful not to overlook.
Photo credit: PBoGS
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