Why This Is The First Generation To Get It Right On Religion
Last week, the Pew Research Center released an expansive study that polled Generation-Y’s views on an array of issues. This group of adults is the first to have more self-identified liberals than conservatives.
Generation-Y is also more racially diverse, supportive of both activist government and LGBQTI rights, and less likely to call ourselves patriotic.
And interestingly, a 13 percent unemployment rate and crushing student loan debt have failed to curb our hopefulness; we are more optimistic about our future than the Baby Boomers at this stage in their lives.
Overall the Pew study was replete with good news for those hoping to build winning electoral coalitions that will result in better policies. But one of Pew’s findings was particularly satisfying: Generation-Y is less religious.
In the study, young people had the highest percentage of respondents claiming no religious affiliation. And only 58 percent of us are certain God exists, which means 39 percent of Generation-Y does not believe or are uncertain.
The faithful's representation, though it remains a majority, is shrinking with each succeeding generation, so it is likely the generation that follows will count even more secularists in its ranks.
It's far from shocking that the most educated generation in history is also the one least likely to believe in Bronze Age folklore. We know full well religion’s wicked, violent and cultish history.
Yet there’s no need to look to the past for examples of the faithful destroying the lives of others. Currently, Christian bigots — in Mississippi, Alabama, and Missouri — are fighting for legislation that would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians and women.
If a pious business owner disapproves of your lifestyle then he or she will be able to deny you service in a hotel or restaurant, for example.
Two million people may go hungry after the successful effort by conservative Christian politicians — à la Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher — to cut food stamps. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” Fincher, quoting Thessalonians, remarked.
Bill Maher’s apercu put it best: “There's always a good, moral, Christian reason to tell everyone you meet to f*ck off and die.” Meanwhile in Israel/Palestine, Jewish and Islamic fanatics are hindering any possible peace deal because both groups stake sacred claim to a strip of land slightly larger than New Jersey.
And religious homophobes in Uganda, aided by white American Christians, just enacted odious legislation that imposes harsh criminal sentences on the LGQTBI community and calls for the arrest of those who refuse to turn in gay and lesbian Ugandans.
Some may invoke the Pavlovian response that human beings, not religion, deserve blame for these travesties. But where did the views originate?
The Bible teaches Christians to frown upon gay and lesbian people. The Torah instructs God’s chosen people to protect their land by any means necessary. While the star of the Qur’an, Muhammad, was a slaveholding warlord who enjoyed sex with young girls.
The big three monotheistic religions are all obscene and oppressive beasts, which is exactly what institutions thrown together by early men would look like.
Indeed, religion and God — younger than the first known languages — are social constructions built by our species during its intellectual infancy.
Cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett wrote, “What you can imagine depends on what you know.” Early humans knew very little and thus the invention of supernatural beings was their attempt to explain the horrors of primitive life.
Unfortunately many people still believe in beautiful fantasylands, miraculous fairytales and the deeply arrogant notion that individuals have personal relationships with the universe’s creator.
Ultimately, the beautiful isn’t some insecure tyrant ordering Abraham to slaughter Isaac. The beautiful is the poetry of Tupac, the music of La traviata, the novels of Adichie and the art of Kara Walker.
The miracle isn’t an admirable, but delusional, man murdered by the Romans two thousand years ago. The miracle — given how close Homo sapiens came to joining the other 98 percent of worldly species in extinction — is modern humanity.
And so the ability to create a better future does not rest with a celestial dictator or a Svengali-like villain that resides in the ground beneath our feet.
No — the responsibility of establishing a more just, peaceful and beautiful world belongs to the compassionate and rational Generation-Y.
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