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Millennials are abandoning traditional religion in droves


This is good news for those of us who believe that organized religion has as many bad features as good ones—and maybe even more.

Forty percent of Millennials (aged 23-38) told a Pew Center survey that they’re religiously unaffiliated. In fact, “Millennials are now almost as likely to say they have no religion as they are to identify as Christian.”

The reasons why range from not having had strong ties to religion to begin with, to the belief that religion is not necessary for living a moral life, and to an impression that religious people are sanctimonious and hypocritical. One survey participant, from Atlanta, put it this way: “We [he and his wife] moved to a city and talked a lot about how we came to see all of this negativity from people who were highly religious and increasingly didn’t want a part in it.”

What religion do you think the Atlanta man was referring to? Judaism? Buddhism? Islam? Hinduism? Christianity? Wicca? The survey doesn’t specify, but I think it’s not hard to guess. It’s not likely to have been Buddhists or Hindus that turned off the man and his wife. Nor Jews, I would venture to say. It could possibly have been Muslims, I suppose, but most American Muslims don’t radiate “negativity”; radical Islamicists do, but they’re not exactly swarming the streets of Atlanta.

But you know who is? Christians. And I don’t think it was the Unitarians or the Lutherans or the other “liberal” Christian groups who were so negative that they helped push the Atlantans out of being religious. No, I suspect it was the ranters and haters, the fundamentalists who are so filled with anger and resentment that Jesus Christ himself, were he to return, would tell them a thing or two about brotherly love.

After all, how many times have you heard evangelical Christians declare, for example, that homosexuality is an abomination? How many times have you heard evangelical preachers, like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. (and their fathers before them) say that Muslims are going to hell? How many news reports have you heard about evangelical bakers refusing to sell wedding cake to LGBT people? How many times have you heard fundamentalists say that they “hate the sin but love the sinner,” which is about as ridiculous a statement as a person could possible make?

I think it’s that kind of nonsense that the Atlanta man and his wife found so “negative.” Religious people are supposed to believe in God. And God is supposed to be a God of love. The “God” that so many Christian fundamentalists believe in has nothing to do with love, it seems to me, but is rather an angry, vengeful, punishing God of wrath and hatred. People who believe in that kind of “God” are not religious. They’re the opposite of religious. The root of the word “religion” is from a Latin term meaning “to bind together.” True religions bring people together. Fake religions, like fundamentalist Christianity, divide us, and make us hate each other.

You have to wonder why people even choose to be fundamentalists in the first place. I think it’s because there’s something deeply misanthropic about them. They hate most people—possibly because they hate themselves–but deep down inside, they feel guilty about it, so they find a religion that allows, nay encourages them to espouse their hatred openly, without guilt or remorse. Problem solved: fundamentalist Christianity. God ordered them to hate entire sections of humanity, so they’re off the hook. When they hate, they’re not only freed from the shackles of polite, civilized society, with its expectations of acceptance and humility, they’re actually fulfilling God’s wishes by hating, thereby earning themselves a place in heaven.

Imagine that: Hatred as a “Get into heaven for free” card. I don’t think that’s what Jesus intended. I don’t think he’s pleased (if he’s still around) to see hatred inflicted on other people—and in his name. And I don’t think heaven (if it exists) is populated by haters. I’ve heard of a place that is, though…

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