It’s widely accepted that young people tend to be less religious than their elders. While recent surveys have revealed that one-in-five adults in America claim no religious affiliation, the number reaches around one-in-three for Millennials under 34.
Now, a new study has uncovered the reason why some of those Americans have dropped out of the fold.
In a survey released Wednesday, nearly one-third of Millennials who left the faith they grow up with told Public Religion Research Institute that it was “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” related to gays and lesbians that played an significant role in them leaving organized religion.
Specifically, 17 percent of Millennials, or adults between 18 and 33-years-old, said negativity around LGBT issues in religion was “somewhat important” to their departure, while 14 percent said it was a “very important” factor.
A majority of Americans, 58 percent, also said that religious groups are “alienating young adults by being too judgemental on gay and lesbian issues.” Among Millennials, that percentage jumped to 70.
“While many churches and people in the pews have been moving away from their opposition to LGBT rights over the last decade, this new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,” PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones said in a statement.
Comparing surveys from several polling groups since 2003, PRRI found increasing support of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage across most religious, political and generational lines.
The survey, which polled 4,500 people, was taken between November 12 and December 18, 2013, asked about a range of LGBT-related topics, including federal and state laws on same-sex marriage, views on policies related to HIV/AIDS and religion’s role in gay rights.
To see the full report, click here.
This ‘Huffington Post’ article – containing a demographic survey, conducted in the U.S.A. – to find out reasons why young people have left the Church, demonstrates the part that institutional homophobia has played in their decision to leave the Church behind.
Whatever we may think of polls and their role in the community, and whichever way we look at the results of this one, there would seem to be legitimate reasons for questioning the influence of the Church’s attitude to the LGBT community, that has so obviously alienated young people from taking their place in the pews.
This is probably the most telling paragraph in the whole survey:
‘A majority of Americans, 58 percent, also said that religious groups are “alienating young adults by being too judgemental on gay and lesbian issues.” Among Millennials, that percentage jumped to 70.’
The Churches have only themselves to blame for this falling away of support. The dogged unwillingness of Church Leaders to try to understand the etiology of intrinsic sexual identity for gays and lesbian people – based on an outdated model of scriptural hermeneutic – is no longer a good reason for failing to deal pastorally and holistically with people who have been cast by the Church as the social lepers of our day. This attitude on the part of Christians is no longer viable in the light of modern science and psychological and biological research, and has been the cause of many of our young people losing faith in the Church.
One only has to look at the widespread public outrage in Western countries against the criminalisation of homosexuals in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, where the local Anglican Leaders have colluded with their governments in the raising up of new laws against homosexuals, their friends and families – again on the basis of a faulty, sola scriptura understanding of gays and lesbians as outcasts – in places where crime, corruption, and family and child-abuse are endemic and largely not dealt with by the local authorities. No wonder our young are alienated, when Churches in their own backyard seem to agree with the draconian persecution of homosexuals in Third-World countries.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand