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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trends in losing their religion (Part 1: the unsurprising)

The Religious Views of 20-Somethings, Part 1 | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders
Last semester I assigned the students in the community college World Religions course I teach a series of writing exercises that (I hoped) would help them personalize and internalize the subject matter we were reading about and discussing in class....
First some trends I did not find surprising.
Spiritual but not religious.....
Happy to believe many things at once. ....
Religion irrelevant
While I'll agree with all three of these, I think there is at least two other factors involved (at least in Christianity):.  First, not only is doctrine taught in toto, but in a manner that brooks no questions.  Second, beliefs that are not expressly taught by scripture (although often not expressly rejected by scripture either) are being taught as doctrine.
(Note that a reply by "elegance" seems to have been removed between the time I read the replies and submitted my own).
Actually, I agree with sheerahkahn and if elegance wants, I can quote any number of passages from Blinded By Might (written by two men who held prominent positions in the Religious Right) that support his(?) statement chapter and verse. Or, if you still don't believe us, then explain why you think that the Betty Bowers website is so popular. If it wasn't close enough to the original for people to recognize what it was trying to parody, then it would fail to work as parody. For many Americans (both Christian and non-Christian), theological conservatism and sociopolitical conservatism are inseparable- IOW, they see no distinction between the fundamentals of the Christian faith and the attitudes mentioned by sheerahkahn. To them, being Christian (or at least orthodox and/or fundamentalist) necessarily entails being part of the Religious Right.
And I half-agree with Tim: a lot of it does have to do with presentation. However, I think another problem is that we have mixed in un-biblical (although not necessarily anti-biblical) concepts and presented them as doctrine.
(N.B.: the distinction I would make between un and anti biblical would be this: anti would include beliefs that are contrary to scripture, such as unitarianism, reincarnation, etc., while un would include things neither supported nor rejected by scripture such as capitalism, democracy, etc.)
The article is also available on the author's blog, where I left the following response:
Saw this article over at Leadership Journal, a.k.a. Our of Ur (who, BTW, have the audacity to have not updated the link to your blog, but I set them straight :) ). I left a somewhat different answer there, but to sum it up, I wonder if much of the problem is not only are they expected to "adopt an entire belief system in toto" but to do so without questions (theirs) or explanations (the church’s). Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m learning a new job, it helps if I know not only what I’m supposed to do, but why I’m supposed to do it as well. Similarly, I think it’s possible that some young people might get turned off if they’re simply being told what to believe without being given a sufficient reason why to believe it (and, no, "because that’s what the church has always believed" does not count as sufficient).
Just wondering if you’ve seen some of this in the responses as well and, if so, if this might contribute to the "buffet effect".

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