Sunday, January 20, 2013

Young Adults Leaving Church

Morning Edition did an awesome series this last week called "Losing our Religion." The series focused on why more and more young adults are checking "none" for religious affiliation. One-fifth of Americans now claim no religion and the numbers are growing among those under 30 years old.

Rigoberto Perez (from left), Kyle Simpson and Miriam Nissly participated in a roundtable discussion about
religion with NPR's David Greene at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.
click here for NPR article:

I really appreciated NPR's attention to this issue and the way they interviewed young adults to give us a glimpse of why young adults are leaving the religion of their parents. The last part of the series, though, made me a little angry. It was titled: "Social Issues Drive Young from Church, Leaders Try to Keep them."  And...the statement is true. Lots of young adults choose not to participate in religion because the religions they see engaging social issues are making claims that they don't agree with. Melissa Adelman, a 30 year old interviewed, said that she disagrees with the Christian stance on homosexuality and the male hierarchy of power in the church.  Instead of using this opportunity to give progressive Christians (and church bodies) a chance to speak in the media to say "WE EXIST," Morning Edition gave more press to mainline Catholic and Methodist leaders who shared the same exclusion - "we don't ordain women" (Catholicism) and "yes, we tend to be behind modern culture on relevant social issues." 

I think progressive Christians need to be louder. We need to have influence in the media because the majority of young people are only getting one side of what religion can be. Most young people don't know that churches exist where all people are included. Churches exist where emphasis is placed on social justice issues, community, and outreach. 

I've emailed Morning Edition and I hope you will, too. Let's not just view this series as a sad reflection on how we've lost a younger generation. Instead, let's make a demand that the whole story be shared. Let's make sure the world knows that churches exist that are busting at the seams with young people. Churches exist that will welcome young adults and their doubts and make their social issues part of our church mission.

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