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Opinion

Readers React: A ‘none’ explains why many millennials aren’t interested in organized religion

To the editor: Stephen Asma is right. Millennials are less interested in joining your church and more likely to categorize themselves as a so-called “none,” one of the near quarter of the population that claim no specific religious affiliation.

Now that we’ve established that fact, let’s talk about why that’s okay.

They’re making a new way. You can be uncomfortable with that. Just please stop making arguments for why millennials need to change rather than realizing that, perhaps, the church, mosque, temple, the religious and our understanding of religion need to.

It’s been widely reported that this generation is the first that will be worse off than the one preceding it, confronting student debt and the prospect of making less money in an evolving market with entry-level positions phasing out because of automation and with a gig economy forcing them to work more for less. Can you blame a young mother who spent four hours after her full-time job driving Lyft for not showing up for Sabbath services?

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That doesn’t mean millennials have somehow shed the human capacity and drive for spiritual and philosophical engagement.

Asma outlines how millennials are choosing to engage in exploring divine natures while undermining these pursuits as empty, self-serving, and superstitious.

I wonder how many millennials would level the same criticism at organized religion.

Part of the problem is that the organized religion that young people have been raised on are ideologies that emphasize belief over action. This generation is one of action and they are leading the charge on civic and political engagement

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That’s why we mark “none” on the surveys about religious identity. The religion we’ve been raised on isn’t the idealized version Asma claims offers fulfillment through communal action. We’ve had to build that kind of spirituality for ourselves. Unfortunately, we’ve had to call it “none.”

Payton Hoegh, Sylmar

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