There are plenty of things to dislike about Millennials, but they deserve a hell of a lot of credit for what they just might mean for the future of faith in this country -- or potentially the merciful lack of it. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, a full 25% of those born after 1980 claim they adhere to no particular religion, with many citing atheist views as the underlying reason for this choice. Put simply, the up-and-coming generation is the most secular this country has ever seen and the later each new group of Americans is born the less tethered to faith they become, with many saying they don't consider the notion of a Christian god -- or really any god -- at all as part of their daily lives.
There are always going to be kids who accept faith-based religion the way they accept any other shitty hand-me-down from their parents, but more and more young people are growing up either without religion at all or to abandon it in favor of finding their own spirituality or lack thereof. I've worked in broadcasting and print for 28 years total which means that I tend to see everything through the prism of media, but I genuinely do think that the rise of social media and proliferation of media and information in general probably bears some responsibility for the decline in absolute faith within America. When civic-minded Millennials see their Twitter feeds flooded with idiot opportunists like Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee and the Duggars -- when a group that largely sees gay marriage as acceptable and gay people as deserving of all the dignity and rights of anyone else -- they realize the damage that an unshakable believe in the Christian god has done and continues to do in the United States. It's easy to see why they're wisely turning their backs on that kind of horseshit.
There are still, though, plenty of kids who are marching into the future with their gaze affixed on heaven and their intent to be good little soldiers for Christ. Ground Zero for this dwindling but still dangerous movement is Liberty University, founded by smirking unleavened Pillsbury Doughboy Jerry Falwell. This afternoon, Bernie Sanders appeared at Liberty to, you know, rap with the kids, but to his credit what's usually nothing more than an exercise in pandering to the religious right was a pretty strong lesson in the reality that kids who've self-sealed themselves inside the Liberty University bubble have no appreciation of. Sanders laid out the racist origins of the United States and said that while a lot of progress has been made in overcoming our bigotry a lot more still had to be done. “I cannot understand for the life of me how there can be hundreds of groups in this country whose sole reason for existence is to promote hatred, hate groups, and they join us so we can hate African-Americans or gays or Jews or immigrants or anybody that is different from us,” Sanders said, somehow without a trace of irony given that he was standing in front of one of the most socially acceptable hate groups in America. “I can’t understand that, but let us be clear, that when you have unarmed African-Americans shot by police officers, something which has been going on for years, that is also institutional racism and something that cries out for reform.”
Makes a lot of sense. But apparently, as expected, the kids at Liberty responded to Sanders with tepid acknowledgement and not a whole lot more. The person they did respond to with rapturous applause, however, was David Nasser, the moderator of the event and Liberty's senior vice president for spiritual development, whatever the hell that is. He was quick to reframe Sanders's comments, telling the Vermont senator that the problem of police brutality against black people was "not so much a skin issue as much as it is a sin issue." So once again what you have is an incredibly complex issue that requires immediate attention and thorough analysis -- in this case institutional racism -- dismissed and the answer to it reduced to a fairy tale. This kind of nonsense thinking is common among the faithful but now more than ever average people can see this for what it is because now more than ever it feels self-evidently crazy and dangerous. The youth at Liberty University are the exception rather than the rule these days. Even those who do have share a belief in a divine entity are usually smart enough to know that the issue of police brutality has nothing at all to do with a concept invented by superstitious people 2,000 years ago and to think so is detrimental to us as a society.
Claiming that sin is at the core of our country's various crises sounds lunatic to anybody who values his or her ability to apply logic and reason to the various situations they encounter and if Pew is to be believed that's more and more people as the years pass. There are those who want to turn us into a theocracy, who have no appreciation for the irony that they scream and cry about the perils of Sharia Law but are demanding that a Christian version be enacted nationwide. The kids who go to Liberty University almost certainly believe that's their mission: to transform America into a country that adheres strictly to Christ's laws. But thankfully, there are a whole lot of other young people out there who feel differently -- and the fun fact is that I guarantee at least part of their enthusiasm for wanting to be able to live their lives without God is a direct reaction to those people who feel they shouldn't have a choice but to their lives with him.
(via Raw Story)