Religion Among the Millennials: Less Religiously Active Than Older Americans, But Fairly Traditional In Other Ways

The Pew Research Center has posted a new series of reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial generation.

From the overview:

By some key measures, Americans ages 18 to 29 are considerably less religious than older Americans. Fewer young adults belong to any particular faith than older people do today. They also are less likely to be affiliated than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations were when they were young. Fully one-in-four members of the Millennial generation – so called because they were born after 1980 and began to come of age around the year 2000 – are unaffiliated with any particular faith. Indeed, Millennials are significantly more unaffiliated than members of Generation X were at a comparable point in their life cycle (20% in the late 1990s) and twice as unaffiliated as Baby Boomers were as young adults (13% in the late 1970s). Young adults also attend religious services less often than older Americans today. And compared with their elders today, fewer young people say that religion is very important in their lives.

Yet in other ways, Millennials remain fairly traditional in their religious beliefs and practices. Pew Research Center surveys show, for instance, that young adults’ beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles closely resemble the beliefs of older people today . . . And though belief in God is lower among young adults than among older adults, Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago. This suggests that some of the religious differences between younger and older Americans today are not entirely generational but result in part from people’s tendency to place greater emphasis on religion as they age.

Read or download the full report here.

Archbishop Rowan Williams at the Beginning of Lent

In this video, also available here, Rowan Williams talks of Lent as providing an opportunity to “sweep and clean the room of our own minds and hearts so that the new life really may have room to come in and take over and transform us at Easter.”  The Archbishop says:

“It’s not about feeling gloomy for forty days; it’s not about making yourself miserable for forty days; it’s not even about giving things up for forty days. Lent is springtime. It’s preparing for that great climax of springtime which is Easter – new life bursting through death.”

A Stone Cold Reminder

Some people give up something for Lent, like a favorite food.

Alabama Episcopal Bishop Henry N. Parsley brings something extra with him during Lent.  “I carry a stone in my pocket,” Parsley said on Ash Wednesday as he opened the Lenten preaching series at Cathedral Church of the Advent. He held it in his fingers and showed it to the congregation as he stood in the pulpit. “It reminds me I have no right or need to cast the first stone. I’m no less a sinner than anyone else . . . The season of Lent is meant to bring us to review our sinfulness,” Parsley said. “It’s simply knowing that you’re mortal and fallible and not God.”

Read the full article here.

Presiding Bishop Pays Pastoral Visit To Haitian Bishop

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori paid a poignant visit to Port-au-Prince Feb. 8 to survey with Episcopal Diocese of Haiti Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin the devastation wrought by the Jan. 12 magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

After climbing over the ruins of the diocese’s Cathédrale Sainte Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral), the presiding bishop turned to Duracin and said “You should skip Lent this year; you have already had your Good Friday.”

“Yes, we can all sing Alleluias together,” Duracin replied, according to the Rev. Lauren Stanley, who accompanied Jefferts Schori on her five-hour visit.

Full story here.

A Welcome Development in Haiti

Last Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced its support for relieving Haiti’s international debt. Debt relief for Haiti will free up financing for the country to recover from the January 12th earthquake and rebuild its shattered infrastructure.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has pledged to work with other donor agencies to alleviate this debt burden on Haiti. He said:

The earthquake in Haiti was a catastrophic setback to the Haitian people who are now facing tremendous emergency humanitarian and reconstruction needs, and meeting Haiti’s financing needs will require a massive multilateral effort… Today, we are voicing our support for what Haiti needs and deserves — comprehensive multilateral debt relief.

Full story here.

Snowmaggedon or Snowfromheaven?

The Washington-Metro area is digging out from its fourth largest snowfall on record.  The Northern Virginia suburbs registered from 28 t0 30 inches of snow by nightfall yesterday.

I woke up early this morning to make the 3 mile walk to Holy Comforter.  A parishioner, Drew Colliaitie, picked me up half way there in his snow plow  – the best ride to church I can remember in a long time.

This was the view at Holy Comforter early this morning.  I’m happy to say that we celebrated two of our  three Sunday liturgies with 29 at 8:45 and 49 at 10:45.  Spike Behning, member of the Vestry, set up a live webcast of the service, and I understand that some 80 people watched at one point or another during the services.  Our associate rector, Libby Gibson, preached a moving sermon on the lessons of the day, based on her recent experience of leading a chapel service for a homeless center in Fairfax.

People have been  describing this storm in biblical terms such as “snowpocalypse” and “snowmageddon.”  Compared to normal amounts of snow in Washington, I can understand.  Nevertheless, a contemplative morning with friends eager to keep the feast leaves me grateful for the “snowfromheaven” that slowed us down in February of twenty-ten.

Patti Griffin’s Downtown Church

I’m a Patti Griffin fan.  I first encountered her passionate and mournful voice when she opened for Shawn Colvin at the 9:30 Club in 1996 during Shawn’s “A Few Small Repairs” tour.  The more I listened, and the more live performances I attended, the more her music and commitment touched me and I’ve been an avid follower ever since.   She is one of America’s greatest musical treasures winning the the AMA’s highest honor as “Artist of the Year” in 2007.

Her newest album Downtown Church is a collection of Gospel style songs produced by her longtime friend and producer Buddy Miller at the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN.  Downtown Church brings to life Gospel songs that have influenced contemporary music in a way that only Patty Griffin can do.

Andy Whitman of Christianity Today recently talked with Patti Griffin about the album and asked her this question:

I love “Coming Home to Me,” one of two original gospel compositions on Downtown Church. You sing “When you’re lost and you’re found and you’re found and you’re lost / When you’re dancing with no one around.” What does it mean to be lost and found in the context of the same gospel song?

Well, that’s the mystery, isn’t it? Look, we can talk about beliefs and doctrines and what have you. But when you get older, my experience has been that it’s not that simple. People are complicated. That song—like a lot of my other songs, I suppose—is trying to get at what really goes on inside, deep down. It’s about feeling alone and abandoned, and simultaneously aware that there is something or someone bigger and outside of you, and feeling connected to that. Both those things are true. It’s not one or the other. I don’t want to put a label on it. (Laughs). I guess that’s sort of a recurring theme with me, isn’t it? But both those things are true. That’s what I wanted to communicate. You’re lost and you’re found. Both those things are true.

The songs mix traditional standards (“Wade In The Water,” ”Move Up”) with country and blues spirituals (Hank Williams’ “House Of Gold,” the blues classic “If I Had My Way” and St. Francis of Assisi’s poem set to Ralph Vaughan William’s arrangement, “All Creatures of our God and King” ) and originals written by Griffin, Julie Miller and others.  It would be a powerful to have Patti sing one of these songs at Holy Comforter some day. Episcopalians might leave their pews.  Watch out!