According to a 2001 survey, only 18% of 18-29 year olds attended religious service every week. Jeffrey Arnett’s book Emerging Adulthood revealed that only 23% of young people considered themselves “conservative believers” while the remaing 77% were agnotistic/atheist, deist, or liberal believers (or people who believe in a religion but questions some aspects of it).
A recent study published noted that religious identification has fallen 10 percentage points in our country since 1990 and, behind Catholics and Baptist, the largest single identifying group is “None.” There could be many reasons, of course, for the decline in religious identification in our country, and especially among millennials, some of which include the overall value of “self” in the millennial generation and identification with social and political values that put themselves at odds with many churches, such as gay marriage and reproductive rights.
No matter the case, my wife and I form a mixed Christian couple. She is Roman Catholic, I am Protestant. This day in age, mixed couples are not uncommon, and in fact are becoming increasingly prevalent amongst Catholics. I know that a fair amount of mixed couples have chosen to raise their children in both churches, but we feel that, since my wife identifies more with the Catholic Church than I with any Protestant church, it would be best to raise our child Catholic.
I feel that, in a way, millennials have become more open to religion, rather than choosing to identify with any one religion or denomination. Beyond the advent of ‘non-denominational’ churches, it seems that fewer and fewer millennials are relying on religion to base their personal beliefs on a variety of social and political issues. Rather, Christian millennials are making religion personal, and seeing it more as a direct link to God, and less as a ‘guide to life’.
As my dad once said to me, “Christianity fails when believers start getting in arguments about the little things, rather than seeing the the big picture.” We bother with the little things, like the age of the Earth, the theory of evolution, and how the Bible views issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and women’s rights, or how we can use the Bible to justify our positions, rather than worrying about what really matters.
We hope that is it in this spirit that our child will grow in his Christianity and learn that religion isn’t meant to be followed blindly, but rather questioned and fostered in his own way.