Politics in the pulpit and the decline in religious affiliation
According to a massive new Pew Research Center study of some 35,000 Americans, 27 percent now say they never attend religious services – double the percentage of 20 years ago. This retreat from participation is led by Millennials: less than half of them now describe themselves as “Christian”, while a full 40 percent say they’re atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”
Meanwhile, young people are moving decisively to the left on nearly all political questions; in the 2016 election, voters who said they had “no religion” voted for Hillary Clinton by almost three to one.
These linked phenomena raise a question of cause and effect: are Millennials less conservative because they’re less religious, or less religious because they’re less conservative? The strong possibility that the politization of the pulpit is pushing the younger generation away from religious institutions should concern all of us who hope to maintain America’s distinctive religious character.