Articles and books about why millennials are leaving Christianity often focus on what churches are doing "wrong."
They're anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, to name a few of the most common criticisms.
I don't disagree with those critiques, but there's another side to the story.
While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion.
For instance, atheists dominate the Internet, rallying to thriving websites and online communities in lieu of physical meeting spaces.
Even a writer for the evangelical magazine Relevant admitted that “While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers.”
Atheists outnumber Christians on popular discussion forums like Reddit, where subscribers to the atheism section number more than 2 million. The Christianity section is not even 5% of that.
The Internet-based Foundation Beyond Belief, which encourages atheists to donate to charitable organizations, just celebrated raising $1 million for worthwhile causes. (Disclosure: I serve on its board of directors.)
Moreover, blogs and websites espousing non-religious viewpoints and criticizing Christianity draw tons of Internet traffic these days. For every Christian apologist's argument, it seems, there's an equal and opposite rebuttal to be found online. I call that "Hitchens' Third Law.”
Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can't protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs.
If there's an open comment thread to be found on a Christian's YouTube video or opinion piece online, there's inevitably going to be pushback from atheists.
There has also been a push by atheists to get non-religious individuals to "come out of the closet" and let people know that they don't believe in God.
Among other things, this proves that anti-atheist stereotypes aren't accurate and, just as important, that atheists aren’t alone in their communities.
There's the Richard Dawkins Foundation's Out Campaign, with its Scarlet A badges.
There are atheist-encouraging billboards in 33 states financed by groups like the United Coalition of Reason.
There's even going to be an 1-800 hot line for people "recovering" from religion.
And last year, an estimated 20,000 atheists turned out for the Reason Rally in Washington, a tenfold increase from the previous atheist rally in 2002.
Read the rest here.
Damned good article and it makes a number of persuasive points. There was a comment, though, after the article, which made a remarkable further input:
... atheism for the most part is free, unless you are charitable. churches extract compensation while attending, some even tell you what % of your income they should get.
As a young adult, tithing was always something which bothered me about belonging to a church, I suspect because I wasn't especially sure where my money was going AND, since it was my parents pushing me to tithe more than me, I felt as though that money could better go elsewhere (to MY benefit!). As I have said elsewhere, I am glad to offer financial support those organizations which I feel give back to me, and that includes Atheist Nexus. If the millennials are veering away from religion because their socialization occurs elsewhere and without monetary strings attached, who should be surprised? Add that to the integral position the internet has in the lives of millennials and the reasons why they abjure religion becomes yet more obvious.
This is yet one more place where religion is behind the times ... and one more reason why religion will ultimately fail.
All I can say is WOW! This is all heading in a direction that I have known about now for some time. The Internet and reason will play a very big part in the death of religion.
My pleasure, Mathew.
Excellent news! I'm an old fart (or, at least, older fart), and those of my generation at times give me great cause for concern with their reactionary views. When I hear how the superstitious are being pushed back further and further - albeit a slow but steady push - I start to take hope for the future. Maybe we're on the verge of a new enlightenment. I certainly hope so.
It gives me hope as well.
Mehta is one of the shining stars of the atheist community! He's pleasant, articulate, passionate, gentle, nurturing, highly intelligent, personable... I think his example puts a truly human face on atheism and that also helps attract young people to the shining light of reason, rationality, and humanism.
An atheist speaking at a megachurch - that must help the cause as well.
SB, I had a listen to that piece you posted of Hemant Mehta in his conversation with Randy Frazee. Indeed, it was an amazing conversation. I was interested in hearing Mehta say that it would take a personal experience to persuade him of the possibility of there being a god or Jesus or whatever. I would have to take that a very important step further. One personal experience does not necessarily verify anything. I can hallucinate, I can be mistaken or suffer from tainted food or through other causation have an experience which might be revelatory for me, but not necessarily representative of reality, and I am keenly aware of that. No single vision, no matter how realistic or convincing, should cause me to alter my point of view.
However, an experience which ANYONE can have, observe, study and understand, one which one can have at any time, which is universal in its aspect and which can have only ONE interpretation ... THAT might be an experience which would be a far stronger argument. What would the nature of that experience be? I have NO idea; probably one more reason why I'm an atheist.
What was disappointing was that Frazee had to get his last jab in at the end, had to assert that his point of view has standing, that there is a rational reason to believe in Jesus, etc, etc, etc. Further, he had to do that AFTER Mehta had left! Had he dared to made those statements in Hemant's presence, my suspicion is that the conversation would have taken on a completely different character and not one which would have been favorable to Frazee.
But then, this is what you get when you walk in the lion's den, so to speak.
I agree Loren. Especially to "One personal experience does not necessarily verify anything."
Excellent article Loren and again shows how the internet is the place where religions come to die.