A Godless Generation: An explanation why Millennials can’t stomach organized religion
Imagine you're at the family barbecue when you see Uncle Bert approaching. You sigh as you prepare yourself for another deep conversation that you cannot win. Uncle Bert is the kind, but firm, intolerant relative that we all love wholeheartedly, but would rather only see once every year or so. It’s not him, it’s his beliefs. We see him every Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Easter Sunday, and every other major secular family holiday. And every conversation with him, although enlightening and filled with love is met with an internal deep sigh. His presence at gatherings and phone calls is only rivaled by Aunt Ophelia’s. At family events and for visits, she hands you a plate of her famous cobbler, pie or dessert of your cultural background while she questions your morals, good-naturedly. Her misinformed beliefs regarding sensitive issues, are why you stopped bringing certain friends over for holidays. “Well you know what the ___insert__ religious__ text says about that”, she scolds when you tell her of your sexual preference, political beliefs, or new religious outlook. You love them unabashedly, but their stringent beliefs need to go.
The belief in an organized collective of people to worship with has been a staple of religious life for well over the last millennia, but in the opinion of many Millennials, it’s worn out it’s welcome. “Why is your generation so Godless”, Uncle Bert asks after reading his morning paper over a cup of coffee at 7am. Deep sigh. “You know, I heard that the FBI look at all that stuff on the Facebook”, Aunt Ophelia says while reading your posts over your shoulder. Deep Sigh. While I don't actually have an Uncle Bert or an Aunt Ophelia, the people they represent are uniform across lives of the 75 million Millennial lives in the US.
Growing up in a deeply religious family, sequestered between two major religious denominations — Islam and Christianity respectively, I find it hard to write this, but it needs to be said: Organized religion isn't for us. I pray that my great grandparents forgive me, and I hope that my deeply religious friends take no offense. But, with all due respect, there is little that it can offer us without taking a “holier than thou” voice. And frankly, we are tired of it. And as much as it pains me to say, Aunt Ophelia and Uncle Bert are what’s wrong with organized religion. For those who have a hard time explaining why, here are my top 5 reasons for loathing organized religion.
This is not to say that organized religion is bad, or that it offers no benefits at all; It just doesn't have the same precedence for us. This isn't because of the irrelevance of the texts, or the hatred of organization, but rather the era we live in— a different world than our elderly aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents came from. We live in a completely different world than that world of our relatives. The world of Millennials is one that is still developing and is open to a much wider range of interests, beliefs, and experiences. The ability to relate is paramount with religious experiences and most of the times, we just can’t.
2. Intolerance to new views
The religious world has become, (from my point of view) a vie for supremacy. While at the time of the revelation of many of the holy texts (especially of the major Abrahamic religions), religion was a way out of darkness into a light for peoples ravaged with wars, injustices, and devoid of morals; the messages are long overdue for updates. The rising “Age of Tolerance” is exactly what Jesus/Muhammad/Moses/Buddha taught, the core tenant of most religions is “be kind and do good to all”. So why then, can't a person of a faith y (or no faith) be just as pious and morally good as someone of x belief? Nine times from ten, people in opposing beliefs have been woefully misinformed and that information is perpetuated in a vicious cycle. A prime example is the interpretation of Muslims, Jews, and Christians that each view invalidates each other and don’t intersect. When each of the prophets in each book cites the “God of Abraham” as his Lord.
I grew up in a very Multi-faith environment, and one of the biggest issues people seem to have across the board is the understanding of the concept of Sin. Sin seems to be the gateway to judging others, rather than focusing on personal self growth and improvement. And judgement leads to persecution, which as it would happen, is the root cause of many of the issues we have as a human race. Sin has become a vehicle that people use to say, “I am better than he”. And because of this intolerant view, people who want to improve are excommunicated from entire communities. A truely good faith community would be devoid of this, and because I have not found one, I have not chosen one. After all, who are any of us to judge, we don't know the circumstances of the situation and we all walk our own paths. So long as people aren't harming, restricting, or defaming others, they should be free to believe as they choose. This also reflects back into intolerance on new views. I have included an image of the 7 core tenants of Satanism at the risk of being disregarded as a occultist.
4. Lack of Necessity for a collective
The time when organized religion thrived, between the early Middle Ages to probably the turn of the last century, benefits came with the inclusion of the Church (, Mosque, or Synagogue). However in an age dominated by technology, organized religion has become an outdated practice. Many times religion was used as a gateway through tough times and opposition on a moral front, not to mention the need for a collective to ensure people could worship in peace. In this new “Age of Tolerance” that is being ushered in, the necessity of a collective isn't as important.
Not to say that having houses of worship or a faith community aren’t good to have; but they aren't for everyone. We don’t go to __Insert__Religious__Place__of__Worship__ to be seen by the community, we go for the sense of community. There should be no penalty for wanting to worship in the silence of one’s home. Some people are private and simply just not people persons.
5. Not wanting to choose
There are so many beautiful belief systems, and I maintain as I've heard it said time and time again, “A good x, should be a good y, should be a good z”. I don't see why recognizing another belief for having a good message should be something that is penalized. Unfortunately, we haven't evolved far enough that we can move past calling someone who worships differently than ourselves “pagans”, or calling their religious leaders “false prophets”. Believing in the goodness and the truth of something is personal, and to think that there is only one truth is a bit closed minded, don'tcha think?
So are we truly Godless in most cases? Not really. I’ve heard more and more of my friends use the term, “spiritual” as opposed to religious. I wholeheartedly endorse this view point. Some of us don’t know what we believe in, but we do know what we don’t believe in. We know right and wrong. So leave us be. Namasté.