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Generation Gaps

by Donald Prothero, Jun 20 2012

It hasn’t received much publicity yet, but a new report from the Pew Research Center shows something remarkable: a tremendous drop in religiosity among the “millennial generation.” The most revealing figure on their website (above) shows a remarkable decline in various measures of religiosity, such as doubts about God, regular church attendance, and belief that religion determines morality (based on the questions that were used in the survey). As one article reported:

The trend was also reflected in declining numbers of millennials who agreed with the statements “Prayer is an important part of my daily life” and “We all will be called before God at the Judgment Day to answer for our sins.” Answers to those questions also didn’t change much among older generations.

Although this is only one survey, it jibes with a whole range of other polls that show an increase in non-believers and a decline among deeply religious people in the U.S., especially among young people. Some polls estimate that the non-religious sector is about 15-25% of the American population. It’s consistent with the many polls that show young people are growing up tolerant of all races, genders and sexual orientations, and unsympathetic to the prejudices of their parents and grandparents. It certainly matches what I have seen in 33 years of teaching college students, where there is very little or no religiosity among most of them (and certainly very little narrow-minded fundamentalism in a small liberal arts like Occidental or Vassar or Knox, where I’ve taught). But few polls or surveys show this striking a generation gap among the youngest generation of adults. And if you click on the link in that website to all the other factors, no other variable (sex, political party, etc.) shows this trend: only age and generational affiliation deviates to this degree.

I’m not aware of much rigorous research yet on the possible causes of such a generational change, but that hasn’t stopped those reporting on the story from speculating on their own pet theories. Reading the responses to this report, I see several possible factors:

  • The most likely hypothesis in my mind is that the millennials have been raised as an internet generation, able to check facts and look up answers on their iPhones in mere seconds. They are linked in a cyber-community of other such young people, especially if they developed doubts in their college education (another strong predictor of low levels of religiosity), and they learn from their peers in cyberspace in a way that was previously unimaginable. In older generations (like mine), there was almost no way to find resources which might challenge your Sunday School teacher’s dogmas, so you either accepted it or became uneasy with it (as I was as a child), but you couldn’t find a book that would contradict what you were taught. Now, any dogmatic belief (such as creationism) is readily answered by websites such as www.talkorigins.org, or numerous books as well. Thus, when the millennial generation reached an age where they questioned their elders, they could easily find answer that my generation could not. I noticed this as I walk around TAM the past two years, and see all these young men and women who are geographically isolated and have no skeptical/atheistic community in their small hometowns, but are elated to be hanging out with huge numbers of like-minded people at TAM that they knew previously only through electronic communication.
  • Others have pointed out the fact that American religious leaders (as well as other world religions and their leaders) have managed to disillusion nearly everyone who wasn’t already a convinced member of the faith. These include the continuous scandals of Catholic priests and the conservative dogmatism of the Vatican, as well as the American evangelicals and their hateful anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-women’s rights agenda, to the non-stop perp walk of American religious leaders exposed as hypocrites for being closeted gay homophobes (e.g., Ted Haggard), adulterers (e.g., Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart), and all-around crooks (e.g., creationist Kent Hovind, now in Federal prison for tax evasion). And American youth see the effects of Islamic fundamentalism in a post-9/11 world and come to the conclusion that there isn’t much difference between religious fanatics. No one needs to indoctrinate the younger generation—the actions of the religious leaders speak louder than any words.
  • One story claims that this is the influence of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens) and their best-selling books about atheism (along with P.Z. Myers’ “Pharyngula” blog). I’m sure those authors would love to think that they’re that powerful, but as P.Z. puts it, it’s far more likely that their popularity is an effect, not a cause, of people who are drifting away from religion and find their writings appealing.

We could all list other possible causes that we think are more important (as I’m sure many commenters will), but I’m more interested in rigorous testable hypotheses. Is anyone out there in the SkepticBlog community aware of such rigorous studies which truly isolates why millennials are losing their faith? My bet is that the first one I listed is the most influential.

On another note, I see with sadness that my Boomer generation no longer stands out from the pack, falling within the middle of the trend, along with our grandparents’ generation and our successors, the “Gen X” gang.  Of course, the survey starts in 1987, when the oldest members of my Boomer generation (born in 1945, for example) would be 42, and most would be in their 30s. At that age, one would expect them to be following the common demographic trend of getting more conservative and conventional as they become older and have families and jobs and more responsibilities. There certainly has been a change since we were so young and radical in the late 60s and early 1970s, and could not imagine doing what our parents did. I remember well our slogans, “Never trust anyone over 30″, and the song by The Who: “Talking ’bout my Generation.” The “Big Chill” of the Lawrence Kasdan film is no myth. But my recollection of my fellow Boomers during our late teens and early 20s was that we questioned almost all authority, especially religious authority. I just wonder what this survey would look like if we had data going back to the 1960s?

And that leads to the other question: will the millennials become more religious as they grow older, or will they maintain their low levels of religiosity? The plot doesn’t show the 1960s and 1970s when my Boomer peers were at their least religious, but there is a drop of the “Gen X” curve in the late 80s-early 90s, when they were in their less conventional ages of the late teens-early 20s. Yet their drop wasn’t nearly as low as the millennials today, so it didn’t have far to go to recover to normal levels. The steep drop of the millennials seems to be something unprecedented, if these data are to be believed.

I sure hope so. I’d love to see the U.S. finally make progress, grow up, and reach levels of religiosity like those of most other industrialized nation, instead of being the only rich nation on earth that is as dogmatically religious as the Muslim theocracies….

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Generation Gaps, 4.9 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

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50 Responses to “Generation Gaps”

  1. double-helical says:

    Interesting study! The “internet generation” hypothesis seems like a good one. I’d like to see a parallel study on skeptical and critical thinking attitudes. I would hope that the number of skeptics is growing. Anecdotally, I know many new atheists that I could also put in the category of budding skeptics, but they don’t label themselves that way…..

    • Chris Howard says:

      Do you think the study(s) assume that “atheist” and “critical thinker” are one in the same?

    • @blamer says:

      Do we see “more internet” correlate with less religiosity?

      Somebody can try overlaying with data on internet usage/ubiquity.

  2. Clara Nendleshaw says:

    While I don’t know which generation I fall in, and it doesn’t even make much sense to me to divide a continuum in separate generations and number them, with jazzy epithets no less, I dare say I can see this happening around me.
    In my parent’s time, being religious was normal. If you were even a religious liberal you were somehow suspicious.
    But nowadays among people roughly my age, religiosity is the exception rather than the norm. And if a younger person confesses faith, he faces the kind of sympathetic eyes normally reserved for someone with a terminal illness.
    It may not be a revolution, but change does seem to be happening. But on the the other hand religious extremism is on the rise too, and on the whole a lot more politically savvy. And if those few percent happen to tilt themselves into positions of power, liberal society might turn out to be yesterday’s forlorn dream after all.
    We’ve grown complacent, but the follow-up is always the most important. We aren’t vigilant enough.

    • Chris Howard says:

      Excellent point. A large part of the problem is we’ve got an entire sub-set of the community that confuses standing up for others, and oneself as “being a dick.” It’s very close to the “Just wait until the time is right…” attitude that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

  3. Jessica says:

    It has actually received quite a bit of attention. CNN wrote an article about it that received more than 3000 comments, and had the Secular Student Alliance’s Jesse Galef on twice last week discussing the poll (once with Hemant Mehta from Friendly Atheist as well). The first of these videos wound up on the front page of Reddit Atheism. Links are below.
    Article: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/12/pew-survey-doubt-of-god-growing-quickly-among-millennials/
    Video 1: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/06/14/nr-costello-galef-doubts-on-god.cnn
    Video 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3260H0iW-

    Hope this is interesting for you! Both Jesse and Hemant discuss the impact of the internet quite a bit, and the rise of the Secular tudent Alliance gets blamed by the interviewers for “indoctrinating” high school students into non-theism. Which is full of so much irony.

  4. John K. says:

    While the change is certainly encouraging, keep in mind that the study indicates more than half of the youngest generation still never doubt the existence of god.

    This falls in line with the idea that some beliefs are normally only changeable while a person is young. The old ideas only end up dying off with the older generations. I believe there are similar trends in inter-racial marriage and gay marriage acceptance. You can read a blog post about that here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2012/06/19/the-structure-of-social-revolutions-part-2/

    I think the story here is mostly about the static nature of older generations, more so than the flexibility of the younger generations.

    • Phea says:

      One of the reasons older generations were more static is they had a more reliable vision of the future. A couple hundred years ago, a person had a crystal clear vision of the future, as it was the exact same as the vision of the past. A farmer, ship builder, tailor, or cobbler did their job exactly as their great-great grandfathers had, and knew, (without doubt), that future generations would do likewise.

      One of the prices we’ve had to pay for our wiz-bang technology is things are changing so rapidly, we no longer have a vision of the future. In fact, many jobs out great grand-kids might be doing probably don’t even exist yet.

      In some ways, life was much easier when you could see the future. It was easier to be “noble”, (for example, stay in a bad marriage, or a crappy job}, as you were doing it for future generations, who’s lives you could clearly imagine. The boomer generation was the first to really lose a vision of the future. Technology and, “the bomb”, pretty much destroyed any illusions we might have had about it. This is one of the reasons many decided to “tune in, turn on and drop out”.

      • @blamer says:

        John K’s “staticness increases with age” might be influenced by your “generational anxiety levels about the future”.

        Are you predicting then that aging Millennials will be more flip-floppy with their god doubt? or hold increasingly firmly to their doubt (more steadfastly than Gen Xers)?

        If not, the effect of tech is probably small potatoes.

  5. Trimegistus says:

    Are we sure this is a good thing?

  6. Wysage says:

    As you mentioned later in the post, the same thing was said of the boomers. The numbers changed as they got older with families or other responsibilities. However, another potential reason is that the millennials’ parents are the boomers, so while the boomers went back to church, from our own experience, we may be more tolerant of letting the our kids find themselves.

    However, for gen-x, the motto was it’s hip to be square (the song reflected the times). Since they are now older, and somewhat less religious than boomers currently, your second possible reason may be somewhat more likely.

    • LovleAnjel says:

      I have a hard time believing that a mid-80s pop song about hippies settling down was the motto of a generation that came of age in the early 90s under the auspices of grunge rock.

      • Chris Howard says:

        I’m a “Gen-Xer” and I have no clue what song best typifies my generation?

      • Gavin says:

        “We Don’t Need No Education”

      • Chris Howard says:

        True. Learnin’ never taught me nuthin’!

      • Gavin says:

        Wikipedia:
        “While there is no universally agreed upon time frame, the term [Gen X] generally includes people born from the early 1960s through the early 1980s, usually no later than 1981 or 1982.”
        This puts those who came of age in the 90′s at the tail end of their generation, but I think your point stands.

    • Beelzebud says:

      Yeah I don’t think “hip to be square” was ever uttered by a Gen-Xer. We were all listening to grunge music or rap.

  7. markx says:

    Plunge? Still there are 70% ‘believers’…. truly we are naught but progammable monkeys….

  8. Chris Howard says:

    It was my understanding that a check of the “non-religious” box didn’t take into account a possible “alternative spirituality.” Characterized by a kind of nebulous, Star Warsy kind of “Force” that’s out there, wherever that is, and is more a feeling than a theoclogical position.

    So we could be seeing less belief in traditional, “organized” religions, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to critical thinker, well reasoned, or atheist. It could be that millenials are just as superstitious, but less dogmatic. A type of agnostic relativism?

    • @blamer says:

      The above graph is about doubting the existence of god.

      Agnostic relativists might be mistaken about a great many things, but they’re doing exceptionally well to be skeptical of both the Genesis fiction AND the historicity of its main character.

  9. Dale says:

    What about “graduating into the worst economic climate since the great depression and realizing they will likely be the first generation of Americans to be poorer than their parents”?

    I’d love to see information religiosity among younger Americans in the 1930s for comparison.

    • Chris Howard says:

      That’s an interesting question. It was my understanding that religiosity goes up in times of financial crisis?

  10. fordprefect says:

    I’m wary of any conclusions framed on the idea of “generations”, which seems to me to be a conceit generated by news media. Also, bracketing consumers by age group is a fundamental concept in marketing, so the idea of “generations” is also tinged with commercialism more so than science, IMO.

    Another reason I don’t give credence to bracketing people by generation is that I (and the millions of others born around the time I was) fit none of the conventional labels. I don’t identify with Boomers because my mother was born during WWII, so is within a couple years of being a Boomer herself. To me, Boomers are the older people – the adults who were around me as a child are Boomers. I’m of the next generation.

    But then, I don’t think of myself as GenX, either, although I do identify closer with some of the values that have been “assigned” to that label by popular media. To me, GenX are the kids who were coming of age when I was in my 30s.

    Because millions of people are born every year at a pretty smoothly progressing rate, I think you can make a “God of the gaps” rule to refute the idea of “generations” as a legitimate basis for scientific study.

    • Chris Howard says:

      And yet sociologist, anthropologist, and even psychologist are able to mine some very consistent data, that, when analyzed correctly, can lead to some very accurate predictions regarding generations. So, while not applicable to everyone (birth cohorts etc.) the data can be very useful.

  11. BillG says:

    Beware of noise. Surveys and polls can often be dubious – dependent of how the questions are phrased and it’s presentation.

    Example: Do you believe in religious freedom? Perhaps could be close to 100%, even in Saudi Arabia, though if not a Muslim, I recommend not to pursue the concept.

  12. Gavin says:

    Hallelujah!
    (Just to play along with the dubious categorizations…)
    As a Gen-Xer raised by progressive Hippies, I’ve often been shocked by how ready both of those generations were to revert to selfish and destructive conservative positions. I’m convinced that
    this is due to a failure to address the irrationality of core religious beliefs (call it a psychological trickle-down theory of reason).

    My knee-jerk reactions to the possible causes listed are:
    (1)Duh! Education has always correlated to freedom from religiosity, and self-education is the most free form;
    (2)Hmm-maybe a minor factor…but there are always hypocritical preachers, and in more religulous times, pastorly pecadillos tend to be downplayed – so the cause-effect relation trends the other way;
    (3)Gimme a break! Dawkins et al may help a few discomfitted fence-sitters get their asses off the pickets (as Sagan and Gardener once did for me), but their fame seems far greater as demoniac straw-men for evangelicals.

  13. Max says:

    First, a reminder that this is a skeptic blog, not an atheist blog.

    You’d think that the young generation would be more liberal and less traditional than their parents, but I’m not so sure. I know people who rebelled against religious parents by abandoning religion, and people who rebelled against atheist parents by adopting religion. Muslim Students of the Imam Khomeini Line took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The word Taliban means “students” in Pashto. The Arab Spring boosted the Muslim Brotherhood’s standing in Egypt. Russia has the pro-Putin “Nashi” youth movement. Even their hackers are nationalists.

    In the U.S., the majority of newborns are minorities, mostly Hispanic and African American, which may make the next generation more religious.

    • Gavin says:

      Is not religiosity antithetical to skepticism? I agree that there’s some anectdotal evidence of a generational pendulum effect….But, um…is this a racist blog?

      • Max says:

        “Is not religiosity antithetical to skepticism?”

        I don’t know, maybe.

        “is this a racist blog?”

        It’s kinda hard to talk about demographics without mentioning race, sex, age, and all that. In this post, Donald concentrated on age. In a previous post, he said, “Oil geologists, by contrast, are nearly all old white guys in their 60s or older…”

      • Chris Howard says:

        I suppose that one may be skeptical of religions, other than their own. I bet one could be skeptical of certain aspects of their faith, but still maintain belief. More liberal sects that don’t believe in certain literal interpretations of some stories, such as genesis, or the flood, but still maintain that Jesus was born of a virgin, was god incarnate, and was resurrected. I guess people pick where to place their skepticism.

      • Peter Damian says:

        Mohammed and Martin Luther, two religious skeptics.

  14. Insightful Ape says:

    This is precisely happened in Europe decades ago. Secularization always starts with younger generations. In the UK for example, as congregations keep getting smaller, they also get grayer. Those whoare still go to church arethe precisely those who grew up in a different environmemt. We are only late to the party.
    To say that “people get more religious as they age” is also simplistic. In El Salvador or Saudi Arabia the youth are just as religious as their elders. Secularization is a first-world phenomenon.

    • DelSolar says:

      I know you chose your examples (El Salvador and Saudi Arabia) from the top of your head to illustrate your point that in some places the youth are as religious as their elders. And I agree on your main argument, but the choice of El Salvador (or any other Latin-American country for that matter) is not the happiest.

      I am a Salvadoran atheist living in the USA for a couple of years now. And I can tell you, the level of religiosity is way higher in the US than in my country. This is hard to believe for Americans, cause the hollywoodian stereotype says different; you know, the Hispanic guy who makes the sign of cross at every moment (in the movies).

      I contend that the trend towards secularization this article is pointing at, is not a first-world phenomenon. We, the Latin-Catholic world (South Europe and Latin-America) have already experienced a secularizing process in the 50’s and 60’s. Sure my grandma went to mass every Sunday and made the cross sign, but my parents never did any of those “old fashion” things (although they had a fuzzy belief in God) and three out four of their children now are atheists.

      Let me mention just some quasi-random particulars in which “our” religiosity differs from “yours”.

      - The average Catholic in my country go to mass just for weddings and funerals.

      - We don’t do group praying in family or friends gatherings.

      - There is no Sunday school. If “good catholic” parents want to raise “good catholic” kids, they take them directly to mass, where there is more boredom than indoctrination.

      - Sunday is for soccer!

      - We are cultural Catholics, and that means we celebrate every religious “fiesta” in a very secular way. Christmas, Easter, and every local “fiesta” is a carnival of firecrackers, food, beer, rum and salsa … mucha salsa. Very few celebrate this holidays in a religious way.

      - A big chunk of the education supply is in the hands of Catholics congregations (Jesuits, Salesians, etc.); they compete against each other and are good at educating. And yes, they teach evolution and good science. Up to high school they have a compulsive subject called “Religion” where they teach a very light version of Christianity based only on the New Testament. When I asked the priest for Adam and Eve, the Noachian Flood, the Tower of Babel, he told me that those where metaphors not to be taken literally.

      - I don’t remember anybody among my acquaintances believing that Adam and Eve where real people. And if anyone did, xe would have hidden that craziness for fear of mockery.

      - The culture of telling jokes (chistes) is strong, and some of the best “chistes” are about Jesus in the Cross (and saints, priests, etc). Even kids tell these jokes that would be considered blasphemous in America. If I were to translate some of these chistes to my American in-laws, I would compromise my relationship with them.

      - Telling my Salvadoran parents that I was an atheist was not a big deal, as I expected. I suppose changing my soccer team would have been way more traumatic (seriously).

      - By and large the message of the Latin-Catholic church focuses on how to behave, not in what to believe. According to them you are going to be judged by your actions, not so much by your beliefs.

      - We were the epicenter of the Liberation Theology. And that means Jesus was portrayed as a kind of Che Guevara – esque hippy, enemy of corporative greed, imperialism and military dictatorships , aiming to establish a very earthly and material paradise. Liberation Theology was defeated by John Paul II and Ronald Reagan in the 80’s, but this kind of message still reverberates in so many churches.

      Having said that, if you survey the people, they are going to mark the “Catholic” checkbox, even if they never set foot in churches. People think they are Catholics because they were baptized as newborns or because they are not anything else, that is the default position in their minds.

      But it’s fair to mention that in the last two decades, I’ve noticed a surge of American style evangelism in the Central America area. And they have been steadily converting Catholics, building big churches, installing radio and TV stations, and perhaps turning our countries more religious than they were before. So yes, it’s possible that there is a new generation more religious than the previous one, but that is not due to my grandma thumping her chest, but because of some cultural invasion from the north, from the first world.

      • DelSolar says:

        Interesting map. But that has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

      • Max says:

        Yes it does. Countries at the bottom are more religious/superstitious than countries at the top. El Salvador is the lowest one.

      • DelSolar says:

        @Max: “Yes it does. Countries at the bottom are more religious/superstitious than countries at the top. El Salvador is the lowest one.”

        If that is true, then you and the authors have to explain why the USA, Ireland and the whole Latin America appear on the graphic more religious than Indonesia (where a guy has been condemn to several years in prison for writing “god does not exist” on his facebook status). They have to explain how is it that Iran is more secular than Venezuela, Colombia and Puerto Rico. Are they kidding?

        But if you take a look at the whole site in order to know what they are really measuring and what they mean by “Traditional Values” and “Secular-Rational Values”, you will find that “Religion” is only one among 10 components building up the ordinate’s dimension (perception of life, work, family, politics, environment, etc). Of course after 2 centuries of military dictatorships, 20 years of war, and a dozen of megaearthquakes and hurricanes, you don’t expect a country to have big social indicators. But that is another story.
        But what I’m talking in my initial post (and what we are talking in this article) is ONLY ABOUT RELIGION.

        Even if you look at the questions they are posing in the sub area “Religion” you find something like “Is God important in your life?”. Of course in El Salvador and in the USA (and a lot of elsewhere) more than 80% are going to say “yes”. But again, my point is that, for an average Salvadoran this “yes” means a far fetched hope that his/her difficult life is going to improve; for a Christian American the “yes” response very likely means he prays at every moment, he believes in American exceptionalism, in prayer in school, in imposing his religious views upon the rest of society. That is a big difference.

        You are being a good skeptic if you trust more this study than my testimonial evidence, but you could improve your skeptic skills by reading what exactly the study is measuring. For my part, perhaps I’m just a liar with an odd purpose, trying to brag about my country being more secular than the USA; or perhaps I’m just reporting what I observed and sharing empirical information that is hard to get via surveys.

        Perhaps I’m just a guy transplanted to a new country and baffled by the amount of people who now pray for me, bless me, believe in Adam and Eve or in the Rapture (weird new thing for me) and tell my kids his father is wrong in his “belief” in evolution. I guess you have to be a good skeptic and resist to believe this can happen in the USA.

  15. WScott says:

    @ DelSolar: that’s both fascinating and encouraging. Also a little depressing just how much of an outlier the US really is.

    I confess I’m a little dubious that we can credit the Internet for much of the change. The Net usually makes it easier to find information that reinforces your preconceived notions. I think it has more to do with the appalling behavior described in the second bullet. But no, I don’t know of any data to support that.

  16. Insightful Ape says:

    He visto bastantes latinos. No creará ni un momento que la extrema de religiosidad entre ellos sea una imagen falsa. ¿La virgen deof Guadalupe? Tambien me he encontrado con librepensadores. Ellos son los primeros en admitir su estado minoritario.
    Y, ¿los evangelicos? Es mi entendimiento que la población centroamericana, una vez mayoritariamente catolica, se esta transformando, y ahora los evangelicos constituyen casí las mitad de la población.

    • DelSolar says:

      @Insightful Ape.

      Creeme que a veces a mí también me impresiona bastante el fervor de los mexicanos hacia la Virgen de Guadalupe (no tenemos nada parecido en Centroamérica).Pero si tu observas detenidamente el fenómeno, ello tiene que ver más con patriotismo que con dogma religioso. El mexicano es muy orgulloso de lo propio, ya sea su herencia cultural Azteca y Maya, o su comida, o su “virgen nacional” (que es mejor que las vírgenes europeas).

      Y tienes razón en que muchos de nosotros “librepensantes” latinos, percibimos nuestras sociedades como demasiado religiosas y caemos por el otro filo del estereotipo hollywoodiense en el que el americano promedio no da un carajo por religiones. Tendemos a creer, si no hemos viajado hacia el norte (y eso es muy probable porque es más fácil ir a la Luna que conseguir una visa), que los americanos son completamente seculares y pragmáticos. Cuando estudié evolución en la escuela elemental, aprendí también las dificultades que Charles Darwin tuvo con la religiosa sociedad victoriana, pero tambien que afortunadamente aquello había quedado en el pasado. Y te juro que nunca pensé, antes de entrar a los USA que en alguna parte del planeta hubiese gente combatiendo evolución con creacionismo, y menos que eso se daría en la primera potencia tecnológica del mundo. Muchas veces tengo la sensación de haber dado un extraño salto hacia la edad media.

      En cuanto a los evangélicos en Centroamérica, tienes razón, están creciendo en número. Pero aún aquí tengo cierta observación de primera mano que compartir. Muchos de ellos han cambiado nominalmente, pero siguen culturalmente pensando y comportándose como católicos. Es decir, se siguen identificando como evangélicos aunque tengan mucho tiempo de no poner un pie en su iglesia; no les interesa mucho la teología y les es difícil describir la doctrina de su denominación; pertenecen de un modo tribal más que ideológico. Pero en su interacción con el resto de la sociedad, ellos son mucho más tímidos que sus contrapartes del norte. Tal vez sea que aún son minoría, tal vez sean los continuos escándalos en que sus pastores se ven involucrados, algunos de ellos viviendo en forma lujosa y opulenta gracias a los diezmos que sus fieles les dispensan. Tal vez sea que los católicos suelen mofarse de los evangélicos y su ingenuidad.

      Como te mencioné arriba, probablemente sea la irrupción de evangelismo lo que haya venido a interrumpir la tendencia que la zona llevaba hacia la secularización. Pero hoy por hoy, la gente religiosa en Centroamérica, católicos o evangélicos, muestran en general una actitud mucho menos extrovertida que su contraparte americana, y eso solo lo percibes si vives en ambos lugares.

      Saludos.
      :)

  17. Alektorophile says:

    @DelSolar
    I definitely agree with your views on the differences between the US and many other countries. As somebody who grew up in a by far predominantly catholic part of Southern Europe, was baptized and so on and even had weekly catholic religious instruction in school, I was rather baffled by how seriously Americans seem to take religion when I moved to the US to attend a college on the East Coast. An example among many: during my freshman year a new friend of mine turned up one Wednesday with a smudge on his forehead, and for the life of me I had no clue why or what it meant, and actually made fun of him. It was of course Ash Wednesday, but as a bonafide catholic European I had never seen anybody doing the ash thing. But episodes like these (and eventually getting to meet my crazy US evangelical in-laws) made me realize that all I was and am is an atheist who happens to have a culturally catholic background.

    • DelSolar says:

      @Alektorophile

      I’ve got another one: the concept of “praying”.

      In the Latin-Catholic world when someone “prays” what he/she is doing is repeating by memory some well known traditional compositions like El Padre Nuestro (“Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos … bla, bla …. y no nos dejes caer en tentación. Amén”) which in English I think is called The Lord’s Prayer. This one and others like the Ave María and El Credo are what you learn as “praying” when you are a kid, and every time someone tells you (or compels you) to pray, you repeat the whole thing like a parrot without thinking or knowing what you are saying; you move your tongue but your brain is free to go elsewhere.

      Instead, what my evangelical in-laws do as praying is something very different. They seem to think someone up in the sky opens a wireless channel and “copies” a spontaneous real-time-composed message. Even the hands simulate some sort of parabolic antennas radiating the waves. But the most shocking part is that some of them affirm they receive back a message from God, in a clear and unmistakable voice.

      Vaya locura!

      • @blamer says:

        @DelSolar, thankyou for your comments. Fascinating enough that I google-translated your Spanish.

        When it comes to the god/religion question, then yes “evangelism” is really what we’re measuring.

        And I mean that word in a broad sense –not just the branch of protestantism– to include The Pope’s rhetoric, and god’s spokemen outside of christendom.

        Moreover those religio-political lobbiests are conning voters that it’s good for their church’s opinion (laws & teachings) to be blanket state laws & teachings binding on all citizens.

        And they’ll strip away the monotheistic wording if necessary (intelligently designing it) to dodge legislative roadblocks. And to leverage that majority opinion so often deferred to by our elected politicians who we refer to as our “leaders” in democratic liberalism.

      • @blamer says:

        read: majority-rules social conservatism ;)

  18. Phil says:

    One wonders the obvious. Has religious fundamentalism of all stripes turned younger peoold against organized religion? Are they still deists but no longer card carrying members of their church?

  19. Patrick says:

    The hypothesis in the article definitely applies to me. (Does being born in 1988 make me a Millennial?) Without the internet, I wouldn’t have even know atheism was a legitimate position.

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