Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Politics and Religion, Not As Usual

Brian McLaren, a pastor and writer to whom I have been paying more and more attention recently (and whose phrase "pro-testify" from his book Generous Orthodoxy, I used in my sermon on Reformation Sunday) has an interesting post today on his blog. He cites a recent study that shows young people's disaffection with the church comes most notably in response to politics. The two hot button topics he lists are homosexuality and abortion. He quotes the study:

So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these new "nones" actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.

But a majority of the Millennial generation was liberal on most social issues, and above all, on homosexuality. The fraction of twentysomethings who said that homosexual relations were "always" or "almost always" wrong plummeted from about 75% in 1990 to about 40% in 2008. (Ironically, in polling, Millennials are actually more uneasy about abortion than their parents.)

This split might seem strange that homosexuality is more accepted and abortion less so. But maybe... just maybe, there is a common thread here. That a person's a person no matter how small (to channel my inner Horton). On a day where we are faced with an even more caustic political atmosphere, maybe the younger folks are pointing to a shift in politics- and religion-as-usual.


Riegel said...

So, why aren't mainline congregations swamped with young people looking for a politically liberal Christianity?

Brian Bennett said...

It's not about liberal or conservative. Remember they stand across the divide of most liberal and conservative splits. They do not find homosexuality objectionable but they have problems with abortion. For the main part, Mainline churches are divided but in the opposite direction. These issues often for a litmus test in both areas... to an extent.