Helping out the past Prez a bit: You Lost Me, Culture Making, and Strong and Weak on Amazon. Thanks for the tips. All of these are right up my alley…
A cogent question. Unfortunately, most folks will wrongly identify “the secular values that permeate our society.” My grandmother was an old-fashioned Holy Ghost charismatic, and she was pretty sure television was the root of all of society’s evils. Luckily, she didn’t live to see the Internet. In our present environment of Culture War, the typical conservative Evangelical will identify those “secular values” as anything and everything identified with the “liberal agenda.” (I won’t bother to list them. We know them all by heart now.) This misdiagnosis, too, is part of the problem.
Here’s a view from the “other side” – American Secular Identity, Twenty-First-Century Style: Secular College Students in 2013, a research report by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture. Its survey of college students revealed:
* Thirty-three percent of this young population answered “None” to the question “What is your religion, if any?” This rate far exceeded the 15 to 20 percent recently reported in surveys of the total U.S. adult population. …
* One important question that intrigues us is: How do people become secular? We asked the students about family background and how they were raised. Almost half the Secular group (49 percent) reported that they had attended religious services at least monthly when young. Only 28 percent were raised in irreligious families and never attended services. So we can conclude that the great majority of the Secular group comprises the “deconverted.”
* What, then, are the causes of this alienation from religion? Many conservative religionists have posited that higher education itself undermines faith and is the major cause of alienation from religion. We explored the differences among the worldview groups as to the courses of study they were following. Perhaps surprisingly, there was no statistical difference between the patterns of choices of academic majors between the Religious and Secular worldview groups.
* One indicator of alienation besides respondents’ personal theological beliefs, discussed later in this article, is that 70 percent of the Secular group agreed with the statement, “Looking around the world, religions bring more conflict than peace.”
* So what are the politics of this younger generation of Seculars? Because they have come of age during an era when the Republican Party has been dominated by the religious Right, it’s not surprising that very few are registered Republicans. As a result, the pattern of political party preference reflects a generational skew and the “God gap” that is typical of current politics. The Secular students were 57 percent Democrat, 25 percent Independent, and only 5 percent Republican; Other/Don’t Know were 12 percent. Perhaps a better gauge is their actual political views. These showed a little more diversity: 4 percent Conservative, 7 percent Libertarian, 11 percent Moderate, 44 percent Liberal, 20 percent Progressive, and 14 percent Other/Don’t Know.
Much to chew on there …
Edit: Had to bold the “deconverted” number. Amazing. Sad. A call to arms!