Good without God: Finally, sorting fact from fiction on faith and youth

Empty church pew
T
his week, we’ve delved into religion and America’s youth. Our foray reveals conflicting evidence about what they believe and what they do.
   

Some say America’s teenagers and young adults hold unflattering opinions of Christianity today. Disaffected with organized religion, they are leaving religious doctrine and organizations behind. They are good without God. (Scroll down to read earlier entries in this series.)

Others find that America’s youth are engaged in religion, and enjoy benefits from their involvement. They are good with God.

I wonder if both sides are right—in an odd sort of way. Rebellion is a normal and predictable life stage as childhood is left behind and teens and young adults go out on their own. Maybe all we are seeing is the usual and normal progression—no different from what older people today went through in their formative years.

Here are some data to support my thesis, drawn from an unscientific sample of committed churchgoers who are now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. All said that they stopped going to church once they were old enough to make independent decisions. A prominent pastor is among this group, saying that he stopped going to church even when he decided to go to seminary.

I, too, number among this group. I grew up in an involved religious family, but as soon as I could make decisions on my own, I “quit.” I just stopped going. Like many, however, I returned to the church once I was married, had a family, and faced the challenge of teaching my child about a moral life—and reminding myself in the process.

Does this ring true for you? Did you have a similar experience?
    The week’s not over! Please, chime in with your thoughts, ideas, and experiences!

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