Young people continue to abandon religion in America

Nate Silver’s site FiveThirtyEight is famous for accurate election forecasts, though it ruined its record in 2016 by giving Hillary Clinton a 71% chance of winning. Well, to be fair, that was a close one, and at any rate today’s report is not about politics but religion. And it’s not even the site’s own poll, but a report on two new polls by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Pew Research Center. Both show that Millennials are abandoning established religions in droves. Given that AEI is a somewhat conservative site while Pew seems to be soft on faith, the data showing that Millennials are less religious than expected, and, unlike previous generations, are not coming back to the faith after leaving it, can be seen as credible.  Click on the screenshot to read 538’s report:

I’ll be brief here because this is part of a continuing trend of secularization in America, a trend that has been shown in many earlier surveys, and that I’ve written about several times.  The site defines “Millennial” as someone between age 23 and age 38, i.e., those born between 1981 and 1996.  Here are the salient results:

  • Four in ten Millennials identify as “nones,” in other words they are not affiliated with a church. As for the trend, the recent Pew survey shows this:

. . . the data shows a wide gap between older Americans (Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation) and Millennials in their levels of religious affiliation and attendance. More than eight-in-ten members of the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) describe themselves as Christians (84%), as do three-quarters of Baby Boomers (76%). In stark contrast, only half of Millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians; four-in-ten are religious “nones,” and one-in-ten Millennials identify with non-Christian faiths. 

You can see the generational trend in the bar graph below, as well as the fact that loss of religion in the last decade—or at least formal religion, as not all “nones” are unbelievers—cuts across all demographic groups. Note that unaffiliateds have increased significantly in every group save the silent generation, with a paltry 1% increase. And, of course, the nones have grown faster among Democrats than among Republicans, but even in the latter group there’s been a decrease of 7% in self-described Christians and a 6% increase in “nones”:

Across all Americans, those who self-describe as Protestant or Catholic have decreased since 2007, the “nones” have increased, while self-described atheists and agnostics have risen moderately (about 2-3%, which is still more than a doubling from 12 years ago). I suspect that there are actually more atheists and agnostics than depicted in the graph below, as it’s easier for people to say they’re “nothing in particular” than to say that they’re nonbelievers.

  • The AEI survey compiled Millennials’ reasons for their increased “none-ness.” First, more of them have been raised as “not religious” (17% compared to 5% of Baby Boomers), and raising has a big influence on your beliefs later in life. Of course this fact doesn’t explain why increasingly fewer kids are raised religious, but punts the data to the question: Why are fewer children raised as religious? There are many possible reasons for this, but I’m just documenting the facts.Second, Millennials are married to nonreligious people more often, and religious spouses tend to draw people back to the church. But this, too, is simply a reflection of the increasing number of “nones”: the more nones there are, the more likely you are to marry one.Finally—and here at last we have a reason—538 says “Changing views about the relationship between morality and religion also appear to have convinced many young parents that religious institutions are simply irrelevant or unnecessary for their children.”

In other words, Enlightenment Now! As time passes, and we see the increasing immorality of religion (viz., Catholic child rape, Islamic oppression), its attractions wane. And we also see European countries, far more secular than the U.S., not being immoral, but in fact being more moral than America in many ways. Finally, the well-known positive correlation between being well off and being less religious is taking effect as the rising tide in America is affecting all the boats.

There’s one more reason in the 538 piece: “A majority (57%) of millennials agree that religious people are generally less tolerant of others, compared to only 37% of Baby Boomers.” I’m not sure why the increasing recognition of what is true (American religion by definition is intolerant), but it’s a synergistic effect, I think. For as secularism increases, religious people become more defensive and vociferous, and that can manifest itself as intolerance.

At any rate, FiveThirtyEight sees two big implications of this trend. The first I see as just plain weird, for they’re worried about it:

Why does it matter if millennials’ rupture with religion turns out to be permanent? For one thing, religious involvement is associated with a wide variety of positive social outcomes like increased interpersonal trust and civic engagement that are hard to reproduce in other ways.

We hear this all the time, and some of the results may be correct. On the other hand, I don’t much care given the data from nonreligious countries like Denmark and Sweden, which show us that the loss of faith in a nation needn’t have dire consequences. (The data cited are, of course, all within the U.S.) “Hard to reproduce in other ways”? Ask the Swedes and Danes! Finally, I’d rather have a country based on rationality, especially when the citizens do practice “civic engagement.”

The site’s second conclusion is that because Democrats lose faith faster than Republicans, the gap between parties will widen:

As we wrote a few months ago, whether people are religious is increasingly tied to — and even driven by — their political identities. For years, the Christian conservative movement has warned about a tide of rising secularism, but research has suggested that the strong association between religion and the Republican Party may actually be fueling this divide. And if even more Democrats lose their faith, that will only exacerbate the acrimonious rift between secular liberals and religious conservatives.

Ask me if I care! Are we supposed to engage in superstitious delusions just so Democrats and Republicans can be friends? We don’t have to hate Republicans to reject their ideology and their platform, but neither should we worry about increasing secularism exacerbating the political divide. For one thing, in the distant future almost nobody will be religious in America. And really, what can we do about it—save the unpalatable solution of re-indoctrinating our children in baseless superstitions?


UPDATE: Reader Pliny the in Between has a relevant cartoon at The Far Corner Cafe, making the point that “nones” can still—and often do—subscribe to magical thinking.

h/t: Barry


  1. GBJames
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    If I understand you correctly, Jerry, I disagree with your statement that religious intolerance is increasing because secularism is decreasing. Religion is pretty much always intolerant even when there is little secularism around. Islamic countries demonstrate this rather well, to say nothing of centuries of Christian intolerance before secularism even was an idea.

  2. Neil Wolfe
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    In Nate Silver’s defense, Hillary did win the popular vote so predictions that she would win should not tarnish his reputation.

    Regarding the secularization of America, it’s reassuring to know that it’s happening outside my community where the Amish population is exploding.

    • Bruce Lilly
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      The entire point of “Five Thirty Eight” is that that is the number of Electoral College electors, and it is those electors, and only those electors, whose votes actually matter in a Presidential election (under current law in the US). The “popular vote” is “the opium of the people”.

    • phoffman56
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      In Canada, not the topic, but where I live, near the Old Order Mennonites, neighbours we had for about 10 years moved about 40 km (25 miles) away. Probably, that was past about 3 slightly differing ‘theologies’, all horse&buggy of course, to one where he now must wear a beard, now use of a tractor forbidden. Before it was no tractor on public roads except between fields. Her Xmas letter to us brags of having exactly 40 grandchildren, half of each sex (no mention of transexuals of course!) So here this sort of thing is the same. They are exceptionally competent and industrious farmers. I’d estimate 3 or 4 will eventually leave the community, but likely not some form of christianity.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        “I’d estimate 3 or 4 will eventually leave the community”

        At that rate, they will overpopulate the world in just a century or so. But, maybe they are inbred and will become mutants and then sterile. 😎

  3. Historian
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    The Republican Party since its founding in the mid-1850s has been the party of religion – the Protestant version. It was northern evangelical Protestantism that fueled the abolitionist and anti-slavery movements. This has remained a constant despite everything that has happened. Of course, as Protestants they disdained Catholics and Jews. What has happened in the past four decades is that a marriage of convenience has evolved between evangelicals and conservative Catholics. The threat of secularism and other cultural issues are the causes of this uneasy alliance. It is akin to the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression treaty signed in 1939. Both Hitler and Stalin knew that the treaty wouldn’t last. It was only a matter of time when it would break down. Likewise, I think the Protestant-Catholic alliance is viewed as only temporary. If the sad day should ever happen when, perhaps through Supreme Court decisions, they perceive secularism has been beaten back, the alliance will quickly crumble. They will revert quickly to attacking each other as their suppressed mutual animosity volcanically explodes to the surface.

    • Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Libertarians carry an important weight in the Republican party now. And atheism, or at least agnosticism, exists in young libertarians and some Republicans are aware that they have among them…heathens. And that number is growing.

      If Democrats continue their wokeness they will lose to Republicans. Republicans are not as faithful as they once were, they just use faith to their advantage. If the New Heathens of the GOP are against immigrants, Jews, and Muslims and in favor of rights to guns, well, one would be an idiot, politically, to turn those people away.

      • Historian
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Libertarian congressman Justin Amash couldn’t stomach Trump and left the Republican Party. He will probably vote for impeachment. It is an open question as to how many libertarians will vote for Trump. Certainly, if the Republican candidate were anybody but Trump, many libertarians would vote for the person. With Trump, things may be different. Libertarians have the Libertarian Party as an alternative.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

          Realistically, they don’t. If a libertarian-oriented Republican politician changed parties to Libertarian, they would immediately lose the next election. Libertarian-oriented Republicans will continue to support Trump because their base does and their main interest is power. Justin Amash was a rare exception.

          • Historian
            Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            I agree that libertarians holding office as Republicans will not desert the party in any significant number. The question is what will libertarian rank-and-file do in the 2020 presidential election?

      • Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        I would like to think you’re correct, but as the token libertarian here, I must respectfully disagree. Trump has taken the Republicans far from what limited support they had for smaller government, individual rights, and support for the constitution. They’ve seen that his brand of nationalism and populism works to get votes and too many of them are willing to sell out.

        If the GOP had an appreciable number of members with principles, they’d take advantage of the impeachment vote to throw out the man who has none. Sadly, that won’t happen.

    • Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      Nah. The Republican party is religious because its base is in the Southern Bible belt. This region of the country was solidly Democratic (they’d vote for a “yellow dog” before any Republican) until the party became the party of civil rights.

      • Historian
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        No, the Republican Party was always the party of Protestantism in the North (in its various varieties). After the civil rights movement, it had no problem in incorporating the white southern adherents. The Democrats, on the other hand, were always a party of mixed ethnicities and religions (as long as they were white). Of course, starting in the New Deal, African-American Protestants began their migration to the Democratic Party.

  4. andrewnwest
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    If you can say something has a 70% chance of happening, then it does not happen, that does not mean you were wrong. That’s why it’s 70% and not 100%.

  5. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Glad to see they include some data by region because that is also important here. Notice the Midwest shows the smallest turn away from religion. I think if they really screw that one down it is even lower. Aside from this alliance between the protestants and Catholics the historian talks about there is another trend that should be looked at. Those who’s religion are becoming more and more extreme. I can look just down the road from where I live and see this massive church operation. The big sign with all the electronic messaging shows – Evangelical Presbyterian. 40 years ago was there any such thing? I don’t think so. In the small town in Iowa that I am from they had two Presbyterian churches but neither one was called evangelical. Now that is very common. I would call that a dangerous trend and they fill the parking lots on Sunday three times in the morning if you want some of this. 8 am. 9:30 and 11:00. If you can’t make it then, how about Thursday night.

  6. Steve Gerrard
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    “For one thing, religious involvement is associated with a wide variety of positive social outcomes like increased interpersonal trust and civic engagement that are hard to reproduce in other ways.”

    Correlation is not causation. It is quite possible that nice people who are trusting and engaged used to go to church more, and now they don’t, but they are still nice people who are trusting and engaged.

    It would be nice to see 538 get a little more thoughtful about things, or in statistics-speak, update their priors once in a while.

  7. Bruce Lilly
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    > I suspect that there are actually more atheists and agnostics than depicted in the graph below, as it’s easier for people to say they’re “nothing in particular” than to say that they’re nonbelievers.

    Pew Research has actual data for atheists based on a question specifically about belief: puts the figure at 10% (in the US, obviously).

    “Agnostics” is a trickier matter, as there are at least three mutually-incompatible definitions of the term.

  8. rickflick
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    The march (out of church) goes on.

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    “Hunk papa Oom mow mow…”

  10. Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Trend is also positive in the Middle East, which I also suspect is predominantly driven by the younger crew (Arab Barometer and BBC Survey).

    • aljones909
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      13 million downloads of The God Delusion in Arabic.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    FiveThirtyEight is famous for accurate election forecasts, though it ruined its record in 2016 by giving Hillary Clinton a 71% of winning.

    TBF, FiveThirtyEight was one of the few data sites to give Trump that high of a chance. Plus, Silver himself wrote several pieces in the run-up to the election cautioning that Trump had a path to victory were there to be any crack in Hillary’s supposed “blue wall” in the upper Midwest. Also, the national popular vote results were within FiveThirtyEight‘s specified margin of error for its 2016 presidential prediction.

    • Mike Anderson
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Months before the election, Nate Silver also pointed out the possibility of Trump losing the vote but winning the EC, that the probability of that was higher than normal.

  12. Derek Freyberg
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    “And if even more Democrats lose their faith, that will only exacerbate the acrimonious rift between secular liberals and religious conservatives.”
    I think there is reason for concern here, if only because when conservatives can tie themselves to religion (and morals, in their view), it is easier for them to vote as a bloc, where liberals may all be liberal but have no single driving force.
    I think conservatives win on single issue voting, if they can make an election into a single issue election, as the Republicans are trying hard to do: “The truth doesn’t matter, those people out there are just trying to get rid of Trump and we’re not going to let them.”

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      On election day 2016, I overheard a man at the physical therapy place where I was, saying he voted for Trump because his priest said that people should look past the terrible aspects of Trump, and vote for him because he would get abortion banned. That argument is likely to be pushed even harder in 2020. So, it’s important for us liberals to GOTV.

    • Historian
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Your point is well taken. As the party of religion, in comparison to Democrats, Republicans are much more cohesive, bonded together by religion and white identity politics. On the other hand, the Democratic Party is a coalition of many different ethnicities and religions, making it more difficult for it to satisfy the aspirations of all these interest groups. All this adds up to giving the Republicans an advantage in elections.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

        But giving the Democrats the long-term demographic advantage, since the Republicans depend increasingly on an older, ever-shrinking white base. Or, as the Stones sang for Ed Sullivan, “time is on [our] side.”

        The days are limited for Republicans to cling to power via gerrymandering, voter suppression, the antidemocratic nature of the US senate and electoral college, and the ruthless manipulation of parliamentary procedures in congress.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 15, 2019 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          It’s a relief to hear your prognostication, but is the demographic shift going to occur on time, meaning, before the planet reaches a tipping point? I find myself hoping for a sudden increase in immigration. They say we have less than a decade to decisively respond to climate change.

  13. Mike Anderson
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Nate Silver’s site FiveThirtyEight is famous for accurate election forecasts, though it ruined its record in 2016 by giving Hillary Clinton a 71% of winning.

    I don’t understand how that ruins his record.

  14. max blancke
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    When I read the original article, I was tempted to reply.
    I think “leaving conventional religion” would be more apt. I think a great many just turn some other belief they hold into their religion, with the same fervor and destructive potential that a traditional religion might have led to.
    I suppose someone who approaches trainspotting with holy fervor is still pretty harmless. We occasionally encounter some animal rights folk who are very dangerous.
    I have mentioned this here before, and I think it should be addressed, hopefully by those who have a better understanding than I do of the issues.

  15. Timothy Reichert
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Even more exciting, millions and millions of downloads of Richard Dawkins’ books in the Muslim world and the rise of the nones in islamic countries!

    Kudos to Richard Dawkins for making the downloads FREE!

  16. Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I think to some extent religion is failing due to it suffering an honesty gap.

    Now I frequently disagree on politics or whatever with a large portion of your readers here. I’m argumentative by nature, but I think I can safely say that nobody is setting out to lie in these exchanges because I think everyone here is, even when we disagree, basically honest.

    Aron Ra brings up his experience with the Texas School Board a lot – where you have people on the board trying to push stuff that they know isn’t true into the curriculum.

    Why? For the sake of social control, or to put it another way:

    Why does it matter if millennials’ rupture with religion turns out to be permanent? For one thing, religious involvement is associated with a wide variety of positive social outcomes like increased interpersonal trust and civic engagement that are hard to reproduce in other ways.

    And that sort of thing ruins the sort of trust that religion requires in order to be accepted.

    Unlike science, where experiments can be reperformed and observations compared, religion has to rest on expert testimony.

    Now there is nothing irrational about accepting expert testimony. A religious person isn’t an idiot for trusting their priest about God, anymore than someone would be an idiot to trust their doctor about their health.

    We can’t all be expert in all things, so a level of trust in expertise is something we’ve all got to have to an extent.

    But what if you caught your doctor lying to you? What if these lies were motivated in order to control your behaviour?

    What if these lies were encouraged by the local medical boards? What if these lies were being taught to children with full knowledge of the deception involved because it was believed that lying in this way would produce socially desirable outcomes? What if actual known facts and fields of study were being attacked in order to maintain those lies?

    What if the fact that they ostensibly produce good results was used in the media to argue that those lies should still continue to be respected?

    Well you’d lose trust in your doctor. You’d get a massive rise in alt-medicine, because now you can’t trust the experts, because you know they’re lying, and you know they know they’re lying.

    This trust in expertise is grounded on just how reliable that expertise really is and a big part of that is a dedication to honesty.

    And religion has it even tougher than medicine – because medicine is at least real, so you have more than just the experts to go on.

    Religion claims that it teaches greater morality – but right from the outset you have this argument being put forward – and it is the argument for the virtuous lie.

    Then you throw in all of the scandals, and I’m not just talking about child rape. Earlier this week I think WEIT covered how funds that we donated by people intending to help the poor, were being used to cover the Vatican’s shortfalls.

    You’ve got this idea that religion makes people act better, and then you have Creflo Dollar. It isn’t just immoral in the big scandals, religion demonstrates a grasping immorality right down to the level of a street corner con-artist.

    And we’re supposed to accept that this is somehow supposed to make us act better, when its chief proponents quite simply don’t?

    And look at the things that we’re supposed to be getting behind right? Increased interpersonal trust – that’s how fake news travels. Someone you trust refers you to nonsense that someone they trusted referred them to. Trust isn’t great for critical thinking.

    Civic engagement? Both sides of every political conflict – both the good and the bad, are civically engaged. It isn’t inherently good to be civically engaged, it depends very heavily in what your civically engaged in trying to do.

    And if this engagement is based on bullshit – stuff which is accepted irrespective of its truth value – is it really the sort of engagement we want more of?

    • Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Earlier this week I think WEIT covered how funds that we donated by people intending to help the poor, were being used to cover the Vatican’s shortfalls.

      Should be:

      Earlier this week I think WEIT covered how funds that were donated by people intending to help the poor, were being used to cover the Vatican’s shortfalls.

  17. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    And if even more Democrats lose their faith, that will only exacerbate the acrimonious rift between secular liberals and religious conservatives.

    In fairness, I think the point is that religiosity vel non is — aside from race and ethnicity — the factor people tend to cling to most dearly as a matter of self-identity. The religious conservatism of today’s GOP is also what drives much of the acrimony over divisive kulturkampf issues, such as abortion.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      I think maybe Trump is on to something much more important about religion than any politician before has exploited. He understands that those of faith are open to strange and outrageous ideas and he has a bucket full of them. Just think how it is right now. With full and complete evidence of what has been done to impeach him, he has an entire party stating exactly the opposite. Certainly this complete unreality was manufactured by Fox News right on the old TV, in order to educate the audience of one, he then spread it to the rest of the cult and the job was complete.

      • Posted December 15, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Religious people are gullible. They have to be to believe that hogwash. Trump loves gullible people.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        The Trump coalition can be summed up by one characteristic: gullibility. Religious fundamentalists, conspiracy theorists, people distrustful of science and disdainful of education – they all find common ground in Trump.

        The advantage of this strategy is that they believe whatever Dear Leader tells them. The disadvantage is that this practice alienates a majority of the people.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted December 15, 2019 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

          Like all Gaul in the time of Julius Caesar, Trump supporters are divided into three parts — the deplorables (the xenophobic Stephen Miller/Steve Bannon followers), the gullibles (much of the religious right plus working-class and rural voters who buy Trump’s empty promises to reopen coal mines and manufacturing plants), and the cynical establishment Republicans who think they can use Trump to accomplish their own goals (such as tax cuts for ultra fat cats).

    • rickflick
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      That’s a new word for me:

      kulturkampf : a conflict from 1872 to 1887 between the German government (headed by Bismarck) and the papacy for the control of schools and Church appointments, in which Bismarck was forced to concede to the Catholic Church.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        It’s taken on a broader meaning in recent times — owning especially to what’s come to be known as the “kulturkampf speech” given at the 1992 Republican National Convention by Pat Buchanan (an ultra-conservative Catholic who challenged Poppy Bush for the Republican presidential nomination that year, and who seems old enough now to go back to the days of the battle between Bismarck and Pius IX).

        As the late, great Molly Ivins said of Buchanan’s speech at the time, to appreciate it fully, you had to hear it “in the original German.” 🙂

        • rickflick
          Posted December 15, 2019 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

          you had to hear it “in the original German.”


  18. Mark R.
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    This is a good trend, and I don’t see how the trend will slow or reverse. With the Republicans shoving theocratic laws down the throats of Americans across the country, the Millennial’s, who now enjoy the freedom of same-sex marriage, and have never lived in a country where abortion is illegal, are bound to become even more anti-religious. Once SCOTUS does away with abortion and LGBTQ freedoms and allows the religious to openly discriminate against those who don’t share their faith, I can imagine the nones growing exponentially.

    On the horizon, I predict dramatic political upheaval as the minority rules America with their misguided and unpopular faith-based laws, and the majority lose freedoms that they took for granted. Now, if Millennials actually voted like the Silent Generation or the Baby-Boomers, we rational Americans would never have had to worry about Trump, his base of deplorables, nor his newly appointed army of theocratic judges. We’ll see in 2020 if Millennials understand how high the stakes actually are. The 2018 midterms and the recent flips of the Kentucky and Virginia state legislatures and even Trump’s eventual impeachment by the House give me hope.

    Either way, come election night 2020, I’m going to need a Valium or two. 😉

  19. Posted December 15, 2019 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I think Pliny has it right. Millennials are leaving religion but it isn’t necessarily for naturalism. Belief in witchcraft and other superstitious nonsense is high among millennials. Most millennials I know do not impress me as clear rational thinkers.

    • Posted December 15, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Article here on how millennials and younger generations are substituting secular woo for religious woo.

      • Mark R.
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I’m a gen-xer and I’ve seen the substituting of secular woo for religious woo way before the Millennials. Didn’t that start in the 60’s? Anyway, maybe it’s worse now.

        • Posted December 15, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          It would be good to get some cross generational evidence on whether belief in woo has risen as identification with religion has fallen.

        • Mike Anderson
          Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I believe it more or less started in the 60s, but it was a fringe (hippy) phenomenon. In the 70s it become bigger and more mainstreamed (Carlos Castaneda was a bestselling author and taken seriously by academia), then kind of died out in the 80s (Carlos Castaneda no longer taken seriously by academia).

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

        From the linked article:

        And no, they don’t particularly care if you think it’s “woo-woo” or weird. Most millennials claim to not take any of it too seriously themselves. They dabble, they find what they like, they take what works for them and leave the rest.

        A kinder, gentler breed of religion. No imposing authority, no prescribed pathway to heaven. No holy wars. Almost like a game.

        I like this new breed of “religion” much better.

        • Posted December 17, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          So do I, but bad science education and the like (particularly bad philosophy of science, too) leaves them sitting ducks for charlatans which may be just as bad, including, some reversion to other authoritarian or violent groups.

          • Mike Anderson
            Posted December 17, 2019 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            I get the impression these practitioners don’t take this fringe stuff very seriously. More like cosplay than soul saving.

            But I could see it leading to a more harmful system, with the emergence of a charismatic authoritarian complemented with a needy and gullible follower group.

    • Deodand
      Posted December 15, 2019 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, and with schools teaching that they should ‘worship the black man and abjure the white devils’…

  20. dani_aq
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    They have a new religion: wokeness.

  21. Posted December 16, 2019 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Pliny the In Between summed up my thoughts.

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