It has been a struggle to perfect the order of this treatise. The vast amount of research, statistics, and articles I have had to pour through often times weighs me down with so much information that when I go to unload it becomes scattered and disconnected. I truly hope that between the first post and this post we can all come to a fairly accurate understanding of an issue that is affecting us today.
First, let us back-track with some of the information of the first post. It is obvious from statistical research that we are living in a society that is rapidly increasing in “nones,” or “religious unaffiliated.” For the most part American society still embraces the idea of God but what is increasing more and more is that individuals are becoming less inclined to believe that God ,as they perceive (IT, HIM, SHE, or THEM), is even involved and active in our world today. Among the rapidly increasing group of “nones,” it is seen that most of them believe themselves to be spiritual in some degree of the word. Many proclaim they feel a unique connection with the earth and forces of nature.
In a nutshell, the group is comprised of:
- Includes many who say they are spiritual or religious in “some way” and pray every day
- Overwhelmingly comprised of individuals who declare they are not looking for an “organized religion” for themselves
- Social ideology is liberal, with three-quarters that favor same-sex marriage and legal abortion
However, the most startling is that one-third of Americans under 30 are the largest contributors to this list of “nones.” Greg Smith, a senior researcher at PEW stated, “when comparing this with previous generations under there, there’s a new wrinkle.”
“Young people today are not only more religiously unaffiliated than their elders; they are also more religiously unaffiliated than previous generations of young people ever have been as far back as we can tell. This is really something new.” Greg Smith in an Interview with NPR
Is this something “new,” or could it be that this is a result of generations past? I understand that nobody enjoys taking the blame for anything wrong in our world today. Please understand that I am not taking away from the mistakes of the present and the ideologies of now but are there reasons from the yesterdays that could explain some of this today?
What is even more startling is that the overwhelming majority of “nones” were brought up in a religious tradition! The Pew Research Center survey found that about three-quarters of the unaffiliated adults were raised with some religious affiliation. That is 74% of the nones! So how does one explain this INCREASING number of younger people disconnected from religion in general?
One extremely interesting statistic brings us back to the 1950’s where America as a whole saw a surge in church attendance.
After America had faced two decades of continual depression, war, and various crisis throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s the nation as a whole desired to return to a normal and peaceful existence. Family, homes, and careers became the concentration of the people and with this came an increased attention on religion. The 1950’s would present a post-war nation that was weary and exhausted but hopeful of a brighter future. Most of the churches during the wars had rallied behind the efforts and thus when the war was over they began to get more involved in state matters. The National Council of Churches was formed bringing together various denominations to improve relations with the government, get an interfaith movement pushed, and work on tolerance and acceptance between Protestants and Catholics.
Then the Cold War which rear up in 1947 with the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine and the launch of the Marshall plan which caused the Soviet Union to feel the U.S. was launching a campaign against Communist Russia. Suspicion of motives was high in 1947 and then in 1949 diplomacy reached a level of disconnect as the Soviet decided to claim all of Berlin for itself. By the time 1953 arrived in the timeline of American history, the Cold War was still a great pressure that was ready to boil over and then the Korean War where not only did American’s deal with Korean resistance but also met which Communist China resistance. It was a period of time of great stress and anxiety. American’s who had just come through years of war and depression and unrest were just wanting peace and an ability to rebuilt their lives and homes.
The 1950’s with all the pressure and turmoil was also a period of incredible pace and change. The automobile industry which had gained momentum and seen a halt during wartime efforts. In the 50’s automobile production went from 39 million to 74 million (nearly doubling!) Prior to the 50’s most American’s were a people of the “burbs.” Suddenly America began to see unprecedented movement. Folks from suburbs moved to cities and many from cities moved to suburbs. California’s population in the 50’s increased by 39% and Florida’s by 79%!
Out of this fast-paced and changing world record numbers of people began to seek religion or psychics. Eisenhower himself was not a religious man but in light of the Communist movement and their anti-religious mindset he was quoted as saying:
Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith-and I don’t care what it is!” Eisenhower
It was in 1954 that Eisenhower signed a bill to add “one nation under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and two years later Congress made “In God we Trust, ” the national motto of the United States. Then a small evangelistic society founded in 1950 saw unprecedented growth in only 8 years when Billy Graham would go from a small office and a single secretary to 200 employees and an annual income of 2 million a year in 1958.
Another incident I believe led to the surge of church growth in the 50’s was the concept of a teenager. Prior to the 50’s there was never really a concept of teenagers. Yet during the 50’s young people began to see themselves as a group distinct from others. Suddenly “teenagers” were attempting to create their own identity which worried parents and adults who could not grasp the shift that was occurring in society. Prior to the 50’s young people were forced to work jobs full-time to support families. Now, teenagers were working part-time or living off of allowance to receive money basically to spend on fun. Suddenly, parents and grown up society began to view teenagers as rebellious (and there were great pockets of rebellion.) Comic books were to blame many proclaimed and thus by 1955 thirteen states passed laws regulating comic books. In that same year Time magazine put out a special called “Teenagers on the Rampage.”
It was a culture were young people were mobile. They owned cars, dominated the highways, and moved in and out of fast food and drive-in movies. Records were bought and rock n’ roll became the anthem of their culture. Rock n’ Roll in the 50’s which seems innocent to us today was appalling to most adults because it created a more open sexuality than was common for the day. In just a few words…the 1950’s was a time of revolution. It was not a revolution of rebellion but rather a revolution spurred by a restless generation. Religion became the source of concrete and permanence in a world flying past them.
So what happened? 1955-1965 showed continual religious interest in America. Oral Roberts would reach his peak in the 50’s and 60’s. Billy Graham would become one of the most common names spoken in American homes. William Branham would burst from the late 40’s and into the 50’s with massive gatherings under the healing tents of his revivals. The Pentecostal Movement would see incredible growth during this period of time. Many of the movers and shakers of the Oneness Pentecostal movement would evangelize and pastor between the 50’s and 60’s, Verbal Bean being one of them.
It was among the generation of kids that had been born in the 50’s and merged into the 60’s as teenagers or young adults that would be greatly affected by the issues of the hour. The civil Rights movement, the “Sexual Revolution,” Vietnam, Women’s Liberation, and an influx of alternative religions such as yoga, transcendentalism, meditation, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern regions. Traditional church and tradition teachings suddenly were confronted by these movements that challenged their leaders and teachers. The “mainline churches,” along with the government, businesses, and the military were suddenly denounced by a large contingency of American young.
These were the late generation “baby boomers,” which some have called the “generation of seekers” who are now in their 50’s or 60’s. This group opened a door that forever affected the culture of America and still today the effect are blossoming to full fruition. Sociologist estimate that 25% of this group returned to churches they once left (at what age is unknown.) However, a full 42% “dropped out” for good claiming no religious affiliation or church attendance. (Joanne Beckman: Religion in a Post-World War II America.)
ANSWERING THE QUESTION OF WHY:
This I believe would account for much of the number we have today in regards to the “none’s.” I wonder how many of those boomers realized the effects it had already had on society as a whole and even on their families which many of them were having at young ages. How many kids of the seventies grew up attending a church or having a form of religious upbringing? Somewhere along the line it only made sense that someone became disinterested and disconnected from a religious America.
The effects today are seen and it has taken a full two posts to bring us to this point. One generation can affect many generations to follow. How many times in scripture have we seen this? God desired the HOME to be the focal point of instruction and establishment of spiritual principles and Godliness. This was part of the reason that God had chosen Abraham, because Abraham would command his children and household after him and they would keep the ways of the Lord (Gen. 18:19.)
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (KJV)
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
The effects are obvious in a generation of 30 and under which is radically becoming apathetic towards God and now I fear the following generations will continue to spiral even further out of control. If there has ever been a need of revival among our youth we must have it now! We must do the best we can to change the slope we now stand upon. In the next post I will make the switch from the “nones” in general and the godlessness of our society in general and deal with the trend that is occurring in our ranks of generations who are leaving the truth and embracing the “relevant.”
To be continued…