Teens Are Leaving Religion In Droves, And That Spells Big Trouble For The GOP

It is no secret to anyone who bothers to turn on a television news show or use Google that the current incarnation of the GOP is hellbent on turning America into a fundamentalist Christians theocracy. They believe that everything that is even a little bit progressive, from climate change to acceptance of homosexuality, to abortion, is some evil liberal plot to take away their Bibles, burn down their churches, and persecute Christians. While thinking people know that they are deluded, the people who make up today’s GOP pander to the nut jobs who believe it. Well, luckily for the rest of us, that base of people and their politicians are getting older and dying off. Even better is the fact that younger version of these people are not replacing them.

According to a recent- and quite thorough study, today’s adolescents are leaving religion in droves. It isn’t because they haven’t found god yet or anything like that, either, according to this study. It’s because there has been a cultural shift, and these people do not need or want religion in their lives. Jean Twenge, the psychology professor from San Diego State who led the study, says:

“Unlike previous studies, ours is able to show that Millennials’ lower religious involvement is due to cultural change, not to millennials being young and unsettled.”

Further, the study concludes that this is the least religious generation in six decades. Also, because it is a cultural change, these young people are unlikely to turn to religion as they get older. According to Twenge, who also authored a book on the Millennial generation entitled Generation Methis shift has to do with the fact that children born in the 1980’s and 1990’s are simply more inclined to be individualistic than those before them. She describes Millennials as tolerant, confident, open-minded, and ambitious but also disengaged, narcissistic, distrustful, and anxious,” and calls them the “Entitlement Generation.”

Thanks to this newfound sense of individuality, Millennials are ill-suited for the trappings of traditional religion, which demands conformity without question. This is a good thing, though, in my opinion. I’ve always said that religion is, quite literally, the deliberate suspension of critical thought. After all, it doesn’t allow for questioning, and it certainly doesn’t allow for diversity or individuality. Twenge says of this aspect:

“These trends are part of a larger cultural context, a context that is often missing in polls about religion. One context is rising individualism in U.S. culture. Individualism puts the self first, which doesn’t always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires. As Americans become more individualistic, it makes sense that fewer would commit to religion.”

And of course, the biggest reason could be the most obvious to leave religion behind: Science. Twenge says that “increasing acknowledgment that religion is not consistent with scientific understanding” could be the reason so many youngsters are leaving religion. After all, when something doesn’t make sense, why would one take it as truth?

Further, thanks to increased and less supervised access to information via the internet for this digital generation, parents and other authority figures in the lives of these kids are having a harder and harder time making indoctrination stick. When one is exposed to science, logic, and reason, one is much more likely to realize that religion and all of its trappings are nothing more than myths.

So, Generation Me, good job. We’re moving the world forward, and leaving religion and all of its various bigotries, delusions, and societal ills in the dustbins of history where they belong.

So, what does this mean for the modern-day GOP? Well, as their old, white, Christian, male base dies off, it means the end of their party if they don’t get with the times. If they don’t start realizing that America is not, nor has it ever been, a Christian nation, they will quickly become irrelevant. They will have to realize, sooner or later, that the religious zealots who currently vote for them won’t be around forever. If they don’t stop pandering to these people’s racism, homophobia, rabid nationalism, gun nuttery, misogyny, and fundamentalist religion, there will be no more GOP.

Then again, don’t take my advice, Republicans. Keep it up. Stay in the 18th century as the electorate keeps moving forward. That is the definite way to ensure indefinite progressive rule, and we’ll all be better off for it.

Featured image via Wikipedia