- The rejection of organized religion by young adults is unprecedented in American History.
- Their disaffiliation is not driven by unbelief.
To use Putnam’s words: “they see religion tied up with conservative politics, and their aversion to the latter has led them to reject the former.” I prefer to say: a great many people under 30 think that the “religion” they see represented on FOX news (pastors burning Korans; pastors condemning gays and lesbians; people of faith denying science and denying climate change) is actually what Christianity is.
Putnam makes it clear that these young adults are no different from young adults through the centuries: they long to connect with communities of faith, pursue deep questions, commit their lives to a higher purpose. But the public image of religion portrays people of faith as closed minded, judgmental, convergent thinking, have-all-the-answers ideologues.
Jim Antal is a denominational leader, activist and public theologian. He led the 360 churches of the Massachusetts Conference United Church of Christ from 2006 to his retirement in 2018. An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, ...