Sheila Kennedy’s blog post today summarizes a recent article in the Washington Post, White Christian America is Dying. Both are well worth reading, and explain this much better than I can summarize here. They describe research from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).
The gist is that the majority of millennials are not affiliated with organized religion, not because they don’t believe in God, but because they are alienated by judgmental attitudes, in particular about gay and lesbian issues:
“When PRRI surveys have asked religiously unaffiliated Americans who were raised religious why they left their childhood religion, respondents have given a variety of reasons — stopped believing in teachings, conflicts with science, lack of time, etc. — but one issue stands out, particularly for younger Americans. About 70 percent of millennials (ages 18-33) believe that religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues. And 31 percent of millennials who were raised religious but now claim no religious affiliation report that negative teaching about or treatment of gay and lesbian people by religious organizations was a somewhat or very important factor in their leaving.”
Sheila Kennedy concludes: “In other words, every time self-identified “Christians” use religion as an excuse to marginalize gays and discriminate against LGBTQ citizens, they increase the rate at which their churches decline.”