Why are young people leaving religion in droves?

Gee, I dunno. Maybe because the standard religious beliefs and practices globally are irrational, illogical, ineffective, intolerant, guilt-inducing, fear-promoting, bigoted, sexist, divisive, hateful, cruel and violent?

I have little doubt that this healthy and welcome move away from religious fanaticism is due significantly to the American Constitution and secular ideals of our freethinking Founding Fathers. These “American” ideals have allowed for freethought and free speech, giving rise to stark and frank criticism of religion, as we have seen abundantly in our media and on internet social networking now worldwide.

Note that I personally have been a “none” for some 40 years. But I don’t hate all religion; on the contrary, I find it fascinating and study it constantly – that’s what I do. I prune the rotten, dead and pathological roots and branches of the world’s great religious tree, to expose a healthier tradition dating back many thousands of years. Included in this pruning is the removal of the fanatical belief in unfounded and unscientific religious ideas, as well as of the misapprehension of mythical figures as “real people.”

NPR: More Young People Are Moving Away From Religion, But Why?

One-fifth of Americans are religiously unaffiliated — higher than at any time in recent U.S. history — and those younger than 30 especially seem to be drifting from organized religion. A third of young Americans say they don’t belong to any religion.

NPR Morning Edition co-host David Greene wanted to understand why, so he gathered a roundtable of young people at a synagogue in Washington, D.C. The Historic 6th & I Synagogue seemed like the right venue: It’s both a holy and secular place that has everything from religious services to rock concerts. Greene speaks with six people — three young women and three young men — all struggling with the role of faith and religion in their lives.

Interview Highlights

Miriam Nissly, 29, was raised Jewish and considers herself Jewish with an “agnostic bent.” She loves going to synagogue.

“I realize maybe there’s a disconnect there — why are you doing it if you don’t necessarily have a belief in God? But I think there’s a cultural aspect, there’s a spiritual aspect, I suppose. I find the practice of sitting and being quiet and being alone with your thoughts to be helpful, but I don’t think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with.”

Yusuf Ahmad, 33, raised Muslim, is now an atheist. His doubts set in as a child with sacred stories he just didn’t believe.

“Like the story of Abraham — his God tells him to sacrifice his son. Then he takes his son to sacrifice him, and he turns into a goat. I remember growing up, in like fifth [or] sixth grade I’d hear these stories and be like, ‘That’s crazy! Why would this guy do this? Just because he heard a voice in his head, he went to sacrifice his son and it turned into a goat?’ There’s no way that this happened. I wasn’t buying it.

“Today if some guy told you that ‘I need to sacrifice my son because God told me to do it,’ he’d be locked up in a crazy institution.”

Kyle Simpson, 27, raised Christian. He has a tattoo on the inside of his wrist that says “Salvation from the cross” in Latin.

“It’s a little troublesome now when people ask me. I tell them and they go, ‘Oh, you’re a Christian,’ and I try to skirt the issue now. They go, ‘What does that mean?’ and it’s like, “It’s Latin for ‘I made a mistake when I was 18.’…

Lizz Reeves, 23, raised by a Jewish mother and a Christian father. She lost a brother to cancer.

“I wanted so badly to believe in God and in heaven, and that’s where he was going. I wanted to have some sort of purpose and meaning associated with his passing. And ultimately the more time I spent thinking about it, I realized the purpose and meaning of his life had nothing to do with heaven, but it had to do with how I could make choices in my life that give his life meaning. And that had a lot more weight with me than any kind of faith in anything else.”

Further Reading

Separation of Religion and State (FTN forum thread)
One Out of 5 Americans Nonreligious!
U.S. politicians increasingly unaffiliated with organized religion
Not all nonbelievers hate religion
What is Mythicism?
Christ Myth Articles
Victims of Christianity
270 million dead in the name of Islam
Did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Believe Jesus was a Myth?
Astrotheology of the Ancients

 

11 Comments

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  1. This gives me hope that America might not slip into some sort of theocratic dark age after all. 😀

  2. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Robert. I do believe that everyone globally could benefit from knowing the roots of their original cultures dating back thousands of years.

    As geneticists are tracing the human DNA all the way back to a single “Mother of All” or “Genetic Eve,” in Southern Africa, and as linguists are perpetually working on an original shared human language, so too do I strive to trace the world’s great religious traditions as far as I can.

    As the genetic and linguistical commonalities reveal a shared heritage, so too does the religious “tree,” because it is based significantly on our common human experience on planet Earth. We all breathe air and cannot live without food and water. We live on the land and witness the wind. Ditto with the skies that we all share, except that they look different to us in various parts of the world, as do the flora, fauna and topography.

    These latter differences constitute the main divisions in religion from remote antiquity. In the later eras, when we are faced with intolerant monotheism and its dependence on a single lawgiver, whether Moses, Jesus or Mohammed, humanity becomes extremely divisive and bellicose, leading to the non-ending state of war based on religious megalomania and pathological conceit.

    Instead of chopping down this tree, we need simply to prune these pathological aspects, which include ongoing human sacrifice in one form or another, whether it be called “holy war” or “jihad.”

    Pastors, priests and the like do not have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As they have done in the past, they can adapt. If they start to preach increasingly the original intent of the religion, without the primitive superstitions held as “historical fact” or necessary ritual, they will continue to serve a purpose.

    I would be willing to bet that they could start packing their various community centers (rather than “houses of worship” ) if they taught the nature-worshipping and astrotheological roots of much religion and mythology. They can toss in platitudes and feel-good material along the way, as was done for many thousands of years by a wide variety of cultures globally.

    As I stated on my FB page, I’m willing to travel the world to share with folks the roots of their various religious and mythological traditions, with an eye to restoring some of the esteem (not worship, [i]per se[/i]) for these traditions, based largely on the [i]natural science [/i]they impart. Such was part of my goal in going to the Yucatan, where I think I succeeded in giving some empowering information to a few members of the Maya community.

    That Mayaland experience was very impactful for me as well, as it demonstrated that what I’m trying to do is exactly what is needed at this time.

  3. Pruning
    Hi Acharya, I like your comment that you prune the rotten, dead and pathological roots and branches of the world’s great religious tree. That is what has to happen. But what perplexes me is that these big religious institutions do not see that they face collapse unless they change to be more honest. If a few churches and universities and religious conferences invited people like you to speak, they could open up serious dialogue and help clear the air. Robert

  4. re:
    [quote name=”Ben”] This gives me hope that America might not slip into some sort of theocratic dark age after all. 😀 [/quote]
    “Pain and Fear are the parents of all gods”, I.M.Gottfrei. “Faith and Hope are sisters, both are the daughters of Desire”, ibid. “There are many reasons for which man will kill, a pair of sneakers, a pack of cigarettes, a stick of gum; but there are few for which man will forfeit his life, the bogus promise of an 🙂 🙂 eternal life of bliss in some future Heaven is the snare that catches many a fool”, ibid.

  5. Please now,?
    Acharya,I understand your pursuit. As one of objective towards facts . And subjective of others when appropriate . But aren’t all of us subjective towards all we see and hear? I apologize . I just am. But I figure this whole comment might be too subjective , but toss the feel good stuff? Not everyone is capable of understanding of such info. Not everyone can be comforted by their I.Q. Maybe a little peace? Why are so called intelligent persons such bullies concerning inclusion ? And challenged persons seem closer to perfection in the matter of love? And those in between seem bent on everyone’s destruction? Religion cannot compensate and hardly ever will but for peaceful ones , good is done.- peace

    1. I think it stems from arrogance

  6. book called: And Man Created God
    Hi Acharya,
    big fan of your website.

    I purchased a book yesterday called ‘And Man Created God’. Am wondering if you’ve heard of the book and read it. If so, what are your thoughts.

    I haven’t read much, but so far I’m loving it.

    Your thoughts?

    cheers
    Paula

    1. Hi Paula!

      Thanks for the support and query. I have not heard of that particular book, but I did edit and publish a fabulous book by Barbara G. Walker called [i]Man Made God[/i] ([url]http://stellarhousepublishing.com/manmadegod.html[/url]). Sounds like you’d enjoy it, especially since she’s well known for exploring the lost and destroyed female spirituality.

  7. The original scam …
    The moment religion started it was doomed because it pointed away from our inherent “divine” nature. It can be strong for many thousands of years, but eventually it won’t last because it will have to become more and more detached and insane. People do seem to latch onto insanity very easily and rapidly, but, hopefully, they will find sanity and not simply attach to some other form of idiocy.

  8. A new group of maniacs …
    And, oh, we do have a new group of goons out there … the Sandy Hook “truthers” … I’m afraid that insanity runs very deep.

  9. I left the church because:

    1. All they cared about was money
    2. I didn’t agree with what they were saying
    3. I don’t believe everything in the bible was true
    4. You don’t need organized religion to believe in God

    I was raised a Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools. There comes a time when reality and faith do not combine. Do I believe there is a higher being, yes. Do I pray every night? Yes in my own way. Do I treat others as I would like to be treated? Yes Do I love everyone equally? Yes unless when I am mad at them.

    So to me organized religion is just a power hungry money grab. I see no benefits compared to back in the early 1900s – 1970s, when fear was instilled into you to believe. Now I know better.

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