Sunday, October 08, 2006

State of Denial

The New Faithful: Why Young Adults are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy

With the help of a Phillips Journalism Fellowship, St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist Carroll [and former Republican speechwriter--ed] traveled the country to interview young adults to ascertain how religion fits into their lives. Most of her interviewees were Catholics or evangelical Protestants, along with some Orthodox Christians. Carroll found a turn to the Right in the religious lives of her peers, born between 1965 and 1983; not everyone in this age group is religiously oriented, but those who are have more often than not turned to traditional beliefs and morality. Among Catholic priests, for example, the youngest are as traditional as the oldest, with the baby boomers falling in between. It is not unusual for married couples in this age group to embrace natural family planning as opposed to artificial birth control and for singles to reject premarital sex. These young adults are seeking authoritative guidelines and meaningful commitments. Carroll's journalistic skills are evident in this very readable volume about a tendency toward traditionalism that she predicts will spread.

Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity

Shiflett makes no pretense of editorial objectivity. His own views as to which group of religious leaders should perhaps worry about the exact nature of their eternal reward, and which ones will be welcomed by a majestic, sometimes foreboding God into heaven, are quite obvious. But he still gives a fair shake to subjects on both sides of the divide, presenting his questions, and recording the hopes, fears and faith he finds in the answers. And like any good marketing analysis, Exodus looks beyond the numbers and comes to some clear conclusions, one of which being that the power of orthodox Christian faith lies in its clear hope and steady assurance of what lies beyond death’s door.

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers

Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.

At an unusual series of leadership meetings in 44 cities this fall, more than 6,000 pastors are hearing dire forecasts from some of the biggest names in the conservative evangelical movement.

Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.

Seems like a paradox, doesn't it? Some conservative Christians see a religious revolution among the young, others see an approaching disaster. It may be that the teenagers that leave the church will come back when they have kids of their own. But if only four percent of today's Christian teens will go on to be "bible-believing Christians" as adults, it seems like a conflict. Maybe the former's methodology is wishful thinking; maybe the latter's projections are paranoid rantings designed to fill the coffers.

Meanwhile, further signs the conservative culture war is flopping.

1 comment:

The Rogue Progressive said...

Sen., you're making me feel ill.

But your point about filling the coffers is spot on - but it applies not just to the panicked 4%ers but the cheerleaders as well, hoping to get the conformists to sign on.

The more interesting question is not why religious youth are trending towards the more conservative and traditional wings of their faiths, but how is the entire body of youth different religiously than previous generations (at the same age). These guys don't want to answer that question because it involves a lot of people today checking out of the whole organized religion thing.