June 12, 2017

The young and the faithful

Why are millennials in the US turning away from religion?

Can you be young and religious? Depends who you ask.

According to the Pew Research Center American millennials are less religious than previous generations. But there are many young people, like Hannah Spiro, who don’t embody that statistic.

Spiro, who recently became a rabbi, says: “There is a really vibrant youth group culture in reform Judaism and it has figured out that ‘being part of the religion’ is cool.”

A recent episode of Aziz Ansari’s blockbuster Netflix show, Master of None, explored the generational divide when it comes to religion. In the episode Aziz, who’s Muslim, secretly eats pork, something practicing Muslims do not do.

“I’m not that religious,” he tells his parents in the episode. “And I eat pork. But it’s OK because I’m a good person and I’m 33 years old and I can make those decisions. I eat what I want. And I want to eat the crispy pork with broccoli.”

Theologian Alex McFarland says it’s that sort of tolerance that has many millennials turning their back on God.

“Because my truth is, well, my truth, no one may ever question any behavior or belief I hold”, McFarland says. “This “standard” has become so ingrained that it is now impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.”

So how do faithful millennials navigate growing secularism among their peers? We find out when we ask them what it means to be young and religious in the United States.

On this episode of The Stream, we're joined by:

Hannah Spiro @hannah18spiro
Rabbi, Hill Havurah

Sabina Khan-Ibarra @MuslimahMontage

Ishani Nath @ishaninath

Christian Chiakulas @ChrisChiakulas

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.