Here is an article I received from AARP online. Apparently atheism/nontheism doesn't figure into the generation gap; it's about choosing one religion over another. Comments welcome please. I appears that the Religious Right wants to co-op AARP and stifle discussion by linking it to the healthcare/insurance reform debate. Since Florida has an increasingly aging population and is sometimes referred to as "god's waiting room", I find this to be timely. We are all going to get there eventually (death, not florida, although in talking to neighbors if sometimes feels like the same thing), but this is really what it is all about apparently--just getting along instead of respecting each other's choices and differing viewpoints and respecting same.
Here is the URL if you want to read it first hand & also some commentary and reaction to this article.: http://news.aarp.org/UM/T.asp?A910.11724.9870.36.3661229
Is There a Religious Generation Gap?
By: Amy Goyer | Source: AARP.org | August 2009
Have you ever felt that the "other" generations in your family were surreptitiously smuggled in from a faraway planet? How could people who spring from the same roots differ so greatly? A recent study by the Pew Research Center reported a widening gap among the generations. The survey asked participants this question:
"Some people talk about a generation gap. Do you think there is a major difference in the points of view of younger people and older people today?"
A whopping 79 percent of respondents said "yes." This represents a big jump from the 1979 CBS and New York Times poll that asked the same question. In that poll 30 years ago, just 60 percent responded in the affirmative. It's even a higher percentage than reported in a Gallup poll, taken in 1969, near the height of the 60s cultural wars, in which 74 percent of respondents said they felt major differences existed among the generations.
Are we really experiencing a return to the times when the tug-of-war between the generations included the "younger generation" at one end of the rope and the "older generation" on the other?
Perhaps not. Few of the respondents of any age who said "yes" to the generation gap in this year's Pew survey stated that the differences represented a lack of open-mindedness or tolerance, and political differences got fewer votes. If political discrepancies aren't driving this generational chasm that Pew's survey found, what is? The largest chunk of respondents said that today's differences among the generations concern morality, ethics, values, beliefs, and religion.
Ah yes, religion—something that has been at the heart of conflicts for thousands of years. Apparently, the old adage that one should not talk about religion or politics with family members still holds true.
If you don't have religious variations in your family, you almost certainly know someone who does. I've heard from many families who have differences of religion and spiritual beliefs and have experiences such as the following:
A teenage child rebels against the religion she's been raised in, causing her parents to withdraw financial support for her education and to send her out on her own.
A gay or lesbian couple has a family member who is unwilling, or unable, to accept their commitment to each other because of religious beliefs.
A Jewish wife and her Methodist husband are following the reformed Jewish tradition of raising their four children in their mother's faith, but they have the dilemma of wanting to celebrate the Christian holidays with older family members.
Grandparents worry about their grandchildren because they are not being raised in the faith in which their parents were raised and are unable to integrate the grandchildren into their religious lives.
Older generations say they feel that the comfort of religious traditions seems diminished by younger family members who don't value those traditions.
Family gatherings can make some family members feel deeply wounded when discussions about religious, moral, and spiritual beliefs end in angry arguments.
These are but a few examples of the kinds of generational conflicts that arise in families when religious and spiritual beliefs come into play.
As the age-old question goes, most world religions are based in love, so why do religious differences cause conflict within families? A former Catholic nun who left her order and became a Unitarian said she realized that she wanted a family member to "come to her side" of the religious argument because she loved him so much. She truly cared about her relative, and his opinion was important to her. Disagreement over quite deeply held beliefs can feel hurtful, like rejection. Perhaps you'll never get a valued relative to "come to your side" on religion, despite his age or generational orientation. So how can you learn to live together in peace?
Here are some tips for families dealing with contrasts in religious and spiritual beliefs among the generations:
Find common ground. Look for the elements of your beliefs that are the same or similar, and focus on those. Perhaps your family can celebrate religious holidays together because you love the traditions themselves, even if you don't agree on the religious elements of those holidays. Try to find the basics of universal love within your varying religious and spiritual views, and embrace those common elements together. Can you agree that you are all seeking meaning in life and celebrate that fact together, accepting that you don't all seek it in the same way?
Use positive communication skills. Be available to your family members, respect them as you wish them to respect you, and really listen. You don't have to agree, but if you turn off the chatter in your mind and stop trying to formulate your response while your relative is talking, she will feel heard, and you might better understand her beliefs.
Set compassionate boundaries. You may not want to engage in discussions about religion, because they always seem to lead to arguments and pain, or you simply may not want to participate in religious practices with other family members. Try to come from a point of compassion for the reasons they want to involve you, but be clear about your boundaries and communicate with your relatives diplomatically and lovingly.
Agree to disagree. In my experience, most families with gaps in religious views ultimately realize they are not going to change their relatives. They see that continuous discussion of their differences only leads to repetitive-stress injury of the heart. These families begin to "agree to disagree," and they try to avoid the subject of religion at family gatherings. This may be an approach that will work for you. It doesn't mean either party has been defeated. On the contrary, it means the parties value their family relationship so much that they want to protect it.