American Millennials Aren’t That Into God. Are You?

Helena Bala | February 15, 2017

No one’s really talking about it, either

god-and-millenials-man-repeller-feature-2

Millennials are officially, at around 80 million, the biggest age group in the United States. We are also consistently maligned. Millennials have been called narcissist, selfish, lazy, materialistic, entitled and individualistic by parents, grandparents, researchers, anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists alike.

Depending on whom you talk to, millennials are also heralded as risk-takers, tech-savvy rule breakers, dare-to-be-different trailblazers. We are the future. And the future, as far as millennials are concerned, is increasingly godless.

Nonbelievers (agnostics, atheists, unaffiliated) make up 16% of the world’s population, about 22% of Americans overall and over 35% of American millennials. More telling: the percentage of Americans who identify as “nones” has jumped by almost seven points in the last seven years alone. Atheists are the biggest religious minority — and yet they’re consistently left out of the conversation.

That’s because atheism, in spite of its growing number of subscribers, is still seen as a dirty word. A Pew Research Center study found that 9% of Americans say that they don’t believe in god or a universal spirit, yet don’t identify as atheists. 65% of atheists say that they seldom or never discuss their views on religion with others. Second only to Muslims (and only by one point), Americans like atheists less than they like members of any other religious group.

American-Millennials-Aren't-That-Into-God.-Are-You--Man-Repeller-1

It seems that atheism may have more subscribers than are willing to cop to it. Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and author of The God Delusion, along with three other atheist authors cheekily known as the “four horsemen” — the late Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris — consistently write bestsellers on the topic of atheism. (If you’re looking for a primer, Professor Dawkins’ TED Talk on the topic may be a good place to start.)

This consistent sidelining of atheists is most obvious in politics. If we take the most conservative estimate of atheists in our general population, their equivalent number in Congress would be somewhere around 100 representatives. The actual number: a resounding zero, after Pete Stark — to this day the only openly atheist member of Congress — lost his seat in 2013.

The most convincing answer I’ve come up with as to why this is the case is that religion is often conflated with morality. In practical terms, this means that declaring a lack of religion or belief in God, for some, would be the equivalent of shouting from the rooftops that you’re amoral or immoral. When it comes to politics, there’s really no bigger turnoff to the electorate than the possibility that a candidate could be morally bankrupt. Yes, it’s all very ironic.  Very, very ironic.

When thinking about religion, I’m always reminded of one scene in a Woody Allen movie, Love and Death, in which the main characters, Sonja and Boris, are arguing about the existence of God. Sonya says, “But, if there is no God, then life has no meaning. Why go on living? Why not just commit suicide?” And Boris humorously replies, “Well, let’s not get hysterical. I could be wrong. I’d hate to blow my brains out and then read in the paper that they found something.”

American-Millennials-Aren't-That-Into-God.-Are-You-Man-Repeller-2

That’s really the case with atheism, too. It seems, for many, like too theoretical a topic to consistently spend very much time on — especially when there are more pressing and practical matters at hand. For others, it’s too controversial. For others still, it’s a personal topic in an age when absolutely everything else is up for debate.

I hold this to be true in all parts of life, not just religion alone, that no belief should be unassailable by reason and beyond the reach of probing, respectful, intellectual conversation. This especially shouldn’t be the case when such “personal” beliefs inform and affect public stances on social and scientific issues, such as homosexuality, climate change, a woman’s role in the world and her right to exclusive domain over her own body when it comes to a choice in childbearing.

So, what better place and time to start than right here?! It’s a thorny and difficult topic, but most conversations worth having usually are. What’s your stance on religion and atheism? If you don’t know or are unsure, head on over here for a quick quiz to see where you fall compared to other historical figures.

Helena Bala is a writer, former lawyer and the genius behind Craigslist Confessional. Follow her on Twitter @Clistconfession. Illustrations by Emily Zirimis and Maria Jia Ling Pitt. 

  • My experience may not be typical but I had a pretty protracted break up with the religion I was raised in (mormonism) that lasted the better part of a decade. My parents learned of my break with the faith when I wrote about it…very publicly… Pro tip, don’t do that. Have the conversation first.

    But that conversation is hard! Faith and belief are so deeply personal and, at the end of the day, so individual that they can be difficult to talk about. When I left my faith, I left a culture, a tradition, a heritage, and a legacy from my parents and my decision caused a lot of pain and has left some long lingering scars. I don’t know why I can talk about politics or other divisive issues fairly well but still struggle communicating my thoughts on belief/disbelief. The experience with my friends and family’s reaction to my decision does play a part in my hesitancy to bring up the topic, though.

    • Sam

      Like you said, it’s deeply personal. I imagine it affects everyone in different ways and makes you feel things that you’re not always comfortable with. It makes sense that it would be a difficult topic. 🙂

  • Bee

    My personal (“millennial”) views on religion can be summed up beautifully by a a quote I heard from author Philip Pullman just this morning:

    “The points when I become critical [of religion] are the points when politics comes into the equation, when religion acquires political power. Political with a small ‘p’, for example, within the confines of a single family. Or political with a large ‘P’ on a national or international scale. When religion gets the power to tell people how to dress, who to fall in love with, how to behave, what they must not read, what they must not wear, then religion goes bad….Religion is a private thing and a good thing as long as it remains private, but as soon as it becomes public and political, it’s dangerous.”

    • Brittany Meyers

      Bee- thanks for sharing this quote. It reminds me something I read a while ago in regards to religion. More or less, the idea was that being a religious person is like having a penis: it’s okay to have one, it’s okay to be proud of it, but if you take it out and start waving it at people, there are going to be problems. Pullman’s assessment is far more eloquent.

      • Bee

        I’ve gotta say, I love that metaphor too!

        • Brittany Meyers

          I wish I could take credit! I also wish I could remember who said it. It works, that’s for sure!

      • Rae

        I say this all the time, and I love it!! I don’t remember where I first heard it either.

      • CDC

        Definitely true! We cannot be proud of a diverse, multicultural society and then expect one religion to draw political power over everyone. We were not all born under the same circumstances, and thus we cannot all be expected to believe or be in agreement of the same things. Very nice quote!

    • Hunter

      I definitely see the danger in weaponizing religion for political and/or public gain. Christianity in particular has been twisted into a weird pseudo-religion that many politicians use to justify really un-Christian things.

      However, I think an important point about keeping religion private is something I think of from the New Testament. At one point Paul says: if the gospel is not true, then your faith is for nothing. But if it IS true, then it changes EVERYTHING. In other words, if you believe the gospel is really true, then it’s life-changing. How can you possibly keep it private?

      Hopefully, sharing your beliefs looks more like love & empathy & compassion for all human beings, and less like telling others how to live their lives. Unfortunately, I know this is not usually the case. The Christianity politicians use to regulate a person’s individual agency is not true Christianity. I have a lot of thoughts on this, but that’s just my two cents on keeping religion private vs. living it out through a life of compassion.

      • Bee

        You make a really great point. Few things make me happier than encountering people who share their faith by living their faith—through love and empathy like you’re saying—rather than proselytizing. Thanks for sharing your perspective 🙂

  • Autumn

    I grew up Methodist (and was very active in the church as a kid) but as I got older it occurred to me that, among people I knew, the more religious a person was the more hypocritical and judgmental they were. And that’s not what you’re taught. So I’ve moved away from that and consider myself agnostic now. However, I do believe in the main principles and values of religion: don’t do bad shit and be nice to everyone and yourself.

  • believer

    Regardless of whether you identity as “atheism,” “secularists” and those who identify as “secular” are certainly a vocal majority in elite, coastal, American “high” culture.

    As a Brooklyn-dwelling, New-England-liberal-arts-school graduate millenial working in academia/creative culture, I can tell you that to be religious, let alone anti-secular (as I am) is to be in an alienated, often maligned minority. In my experience, the breed of millenials we’re talking about tend to view meditation, yoga, consumer “spirituality” as “good religion,” and the kind of religion that involves scripture, prayer, and belief in God as something for backwards people. The view of dangerous, fanatical religion often goes hand-in-hand with classicism and regionalism. I’m an example of a devout believer who is the absolute opposite of a Trump supporter (Bernie forever), yet the stereotypes still hold; my religious inclinations are viewed with suspicion and shock by my peers.

    Instead of an article that positions non-believers as the silent, marginalized minority, let’s talk about those who believe; let’s talk about how it’s possible to be progressive and concerned with the material issues of our moment (global warming!) while embracing the transcendent.

    • KK

      Amen (sorry) that being religious doesn’t have to mean you’re a staunch Republican. I hope our generation can undo some of those frustrating stereotypes about religion.

    • Sam

      I like this conclusion. While secularism is growing, it’s still in the minority in the US. Talking about believers and the need to reclaim faith from those who seek to control is an important conversation that needs to happen. 🙂

      • believer

        I would argue that secularism is not at all the minority! It’s just that secularism has always been religiously-inflected; secularism has always meant a certain Judeo-Christian heritage and concept of religion. There’s a lot of scholarship to back me up here, if you’re curious, but the short of it is: secularism has never been religiously neutral.

        • Sam

          I guess I was thinking more in terms of those who identify as not having a faith, but maybe that’s somehow different from secularism? Theology is not my forte, so I’m not gonna argue your point.

        • Sam

          Anyway, always willing to learn on this subject. 🙂

      • Natalie

        I love two points you’ve brought up here about “reclaiming faith from those who seek to control” and the “weaponizing of faith”. Thanks for that – I’ll be thinking about those points a lot!

  • KK

    Born and raised Catholic, so I can only speak from that perspective 🙂
    I think a lot of our generation is turned off by religion because they hear only the most extreme/traditional/conservative versions of it. It pains me when the church pushes people away with intolerance. One reason why I love Pope Frankie (he lets me call him that) is he’s seen as the most progressive pope in history. He has compassion and kindness for the LGBT community, the poor, women who have had abortions, etc. He’s indicative of what religion is supposed to be: inclusive and loving of ALL people.

    I have a “to each her own” belief on religion. Just because it’s for me doesn’t mean it’s for you, and that’s totally cool. But what I would want other millennials to know is that although my personal religion is far from perfect, it IS made up of some, like myself, who have open hearts and open minds.

    • Stephanie

      Depending on where you cut off the millennial line, sometimes I’m one and sometimes I’m not but I wanted to chime in on your comment so today I’m one 🙂 I was raised Lutheran (aka Catholic-lite) but I totally agree with your comments about the Pope. It’s so refreshing to see someone in a leadership position openly speaking about love, forgiveness, compassion, etc which is what I always understood religion to be v. the judgement, condemnation, and intolerance that gets publicized.

    • Josh90754

      The main reason Millennials are so secular is because we have access to such a vast lexicon of information on the Internet. You don’t need religion as a crutch to explain away the things you don’t know anymore, you can ask Google. We no longer need the fairy tales of Bronze Age desert scribes to tell us lies they couldn’t possibly know to satisfy our curiosities about the world, because we have scientific rigor and the easy access to its results.

      • Lily

        The Old Testament in the Bible is what a lot of people think of when they think of Christianity. Which is why it’s understandable for many to think that organized religion is this fanatical, extremist way of thought. (I mean it even says in the Old Testament that one should be stoned to death for sinning…)

        When really, the New Testament is what Christianity is truly about: love, acceptance, and compassion for all.

        The Old Testament is merely a short history about how shitty the world was before there was hope (aka Christ).

        • Josh90754

          That’s a stupid lie and you’re not getting away with it against me. I don’t see anyone throwing Genesis out of Sunday School. When they get rid of the entirety of the Old Testament you might have an argument but that’s not going anywhere. And the New Testament in some ways is even more heinous, at least in the Old Testament after you suffered a life of misery you would be granted a death of peaceful nothingness. It wasn’t until Gentle Jesus came along that the idea of eternal punishment for finite crimes came about after you die. What a sick and cruel idea that is. I won’t take any lectures or torture from a supposed deity who’s far more immoral and sinful than I am (and can’t even have the decency to prove its existence).

          • Lily

            The Sunday schools you’ve been to or heard of are outdated. Not every church is the same. There’s way too many denominations of Christianity.

            Christianity is all about forgiveness. You don’t go to Heaven or Hell based on how good of a person you’ve been since sin is inevitable. Getting into Heaven isn’t even a goal for Christians. It’s about loving others because we know that we’re loved. Not loving others in order to become loved.

            Either way, you’re free to believe whatever you wish. 🙂

          • Josh90754

            Christianity has undergone a huge amount of reform because of our advancement in morals as society. What you call “extremist” religious people are just better Christians than you. You ignore the bad parts that you don’t agree with, and cherry-pick the very few good parts between. Christianity is an immoral and disgusting dogmatic tool for bigotry and fictional flights of fantasy about nature. Your interpretation of the Bible stories is solely based on the morals of our scientific and secular society which has finally made its way into religion out of sheer necessity for its own survival. Your God is a morally bankrupt criminal who demands servitude from lesser creatures to act against their nature and swear to worship him above all other things under threat of eternal torture. This is no kind God, and if he even existed we should be rebelling against such an unjust and disgusting tyrant. Before the Abrahamic religions came around we had societies that functioned. They all had their own gods to explain things and to enforce their arbitrary rules about how we live. Hammurabi’s code which was far more eloquent and specific set up laws almost 2000 years before Jesus and Moses even supposedly came along. The Bible’s prophecies have been proven wrong (the city of Tyre was never razed, among others), it’s stories falsified (The Great Flood and many others), it’s ideas about nature (Creationism) have been thoroughly debunked and its moral value has been thoroughly unneeded for hundreds of years. It simply has nothing to offer us in the modern day

          • Hey Josh, thanks for being part of this conversation. I agree with what you’ve said, and I wanted to bring a point up about the Code of Hammurabi. It was the first set of laws to be set in stone, as it were, but justice then was also based on the lex talionis (the law of retaliation), which makes several appearances also in the OT, but which then Jesus teaches against, if my memory of religion class serves me right. I think both law and religion, in a lot of ways, were the byproducts of the fears of the time. They’re both outdated in different ways–what you’ve pointed out, in my opinion, correctly, is that even the Code of Hammurabi in its day seemed about as progressive as the monotheistic religions that followed it. Anyways, I say all that to say that I agree with your main point: our response to fear today is to seek knowledge through science. The unexplained is that much closer to being explainable–in a way that’s verifiable and stands the tests of rigorous scientific probing.

          • Lily

            1. Again, you are still referring to Old Testament teachings.
            2. “Cherry picking,” isn’t that what every school of thought/philosophy is built upon…
            3. No such thing as a, “better Christian.” The very basics of Christianity is to love all because we are all equal.
            I’m not forcing you to change your beliefs. All I was getting at is that you can’t generalize so harshly. Just as I can’t say that all Atheists are misguided or damned for eternity. Which I don’t think at all.
            Everyone’s allowed to believe whatever they wish as long as it’s not hurting anybody.
            I understand your zealousness, but you literally are taking precious time out of your day to spread negativity.

            It’s 2017.
            It’s entirely possible nowadays to disagree with someone yet still respect them.

          • Ché Hot Chocolate

            You know it’s entirely possible to disagree with someone’s views and not insult them. This is the same rhetoric that births Islamophobia. You don’t have to go so far as insulting a person’s God to pass your message across and I believe I have the right to believe in what I believe even if you think it’s a delusion.
            Faith becomes problematic when it becomes weaponised to hurt others who don’t believe in it.
            Also, it seems you have more of a problem with the Judeo-Christian God than the gods of other religions. Why is that? At least if you had a general disdain for all religions, I’d understand but it feels like you’re attacking my beliefs only. Or is it because you’re addressing a Christian in this case?

            I’m not American, btw. I’m a 22 year old Nigerian and a Christian. Just wanted to put that out there. Nigeria is supposed to be a secular state but it’s mostly Muslim, Christian with a minority traditional worshippers and yes, agnostics and atheists. Yet, Homosexual marriages are criminally punishable in my country and as a lawyer, I’ve always been opposed to that law. But majority of Nigerians say it offends their morality. I guess this is where culture intersects with religion.

          • Senka

            Culture, almost always intersects with religion, and it’s pretty evident that the most atheist countries in the world, or to be precise, most secular ones in practice and in theory provide the best place for basic human rights for everyone. From gay people to transgender people to the biggest oppressed majority everywhere; Women. Yet those places are usually the best in ensuring their citizens of all faiths and creeds enjoy the right and opportunity to worship as they find fit. That in my opinion should be the goal.

    • belle

      The “most progressive” pope really isn’t saying much.

    • KK, I’m SO with you on this. I was raised in a catholic family and my dad always taught me that faith is something you feel, thus no one can force you into it. They gave me freedom to follow my own path into religion and they told me they would be happy even if I didn’t feel God, and I’m so glad they did. There’re a lot of people who aren’t jugdamental assholes and don’t force people to be relogious, but they don’t have “enough press” (sorry for the shitty expression). Religion is a matter of feel, of heart more than logic and brain, that’s why I hate when politics get in the middle. No, you don’t think God or buy heaven, you feel God. That’s all. I think one of the biggest problems when it comes to religion is lack of communication, misunderstanding and predjudices from both parts, the church and the atheist.
      (Ps. Sorry for my bad english, I’m french!)

  • Sam

    It’s hard to be into faith in general when you hear the loudest voices in public discourse weaponizing their faith to belittle and harm others through policy, then invoke “persecution” when told they can’t impose their individually held beliefs on the public. I was raised atheist with hardly even a shred of religion at home, so the whole concept of faith is really foreign to me and I don’t really know how indoctrination works. There are/were some religious people in my family, but for them, it was intensely private and intimate and they practiced alone, as flaunting it seemed to be frowned upon in my family as being disingenuous. :/

    If you’ve got a faith, awesome. If it brings you comfort and joy in difficult times, even better. 🙂 You do you.

    • Leslie Ortiz

      I love your response. The “weaponizing” of faith has always been unsettling. Almost every religion or at least the ones I know about have some history of war, death and devastation. This is part of why I have chosen to be agnostic and just live a good life according to my own moral ground. And makes me believe the problem is not religion but what people do with it.

      My mother on the other hand is a devout Catholic and honestly is a wonderful, incredibly kind person whose been given a tough hand every so often. I don’t think she could have survived what shes been through without her religion and the very specific – meditative practice of praying. (Your last statement reminded me of this.)

  • ValiantlyVarnished

    As someone in their mid-30’s I am on the fringe of the Millennial generation. And I am a Muslim and believer in God. What I think needs to be talked about more often is that it is possible to be progressive, liberal, political AND believe in a higher power. They are not diametrically opposed views. To me the greater question is HOW one is using their religion in how they relate to the world. We have seen a rise of fasco-Christianity in the last ten years. Weaponized to oppress, to legislate a women’s body, immigration, gun control etc. The same can be said for extremist terrorism. Which is not in fact rooted in any religious ideology but a grabs for power. I don’t think religion is the problem. I think people are the problem.

    • Haley Nahman

      We have a story next week about this!

    • CDC

      I could not agree more with what you’ve written! I find that I still have similar stances (in terms of politics, etc.) now as a Christian as I did when I was an atheist. Faith has really been the difference, but I still think of myself as open-minded and progressive. Thank you for pointing that out.

    • Lily

      So agree! There are no, “bad religions.” Sadly there’s just people who do bad things.

    • Sarah

      YES. This exactly. People are the problem- I hate it when we blame religion or make it the excuse for a person’s actions. We each have a choice- to do what’s right or not- and while religion can help point us in a direction it can’t dictate what we do. We are each responsible for our own actions. I’m a Christian btw.

    • Senka

      Fasco Christianity is in fact on the rise, especially in the US and Western Europe, but one must be aware of the political aspects of Islam and it’s, mainly negative effects especially in the Middle East. I live in Bosnia, small Eastern European country, where Muslims are a majority, and all of the things that can be defined as radical Christian supremacy on rise in US, is very present here with Islam. We have also had a (relatively mild in comparison with others) communist regime here from late 1945 to 1992 that wasn’t very fond of religion, and a civil war based on, mainly, religious difference afterwards, which both helped propel religion as major factor in peoples lives recently. Still Superislamisation followed which made being a Muslim an absolute norm, and ostracising of most who identify as atheist, percriving Christian neighbors as an oddity and a sadly a full blown main stream antisemitism and shrinking of already minuscule, yet 500 years old jewish community.

      • ValiantlyVarnished

        Senka hence why I said: I don’t think religion is the problem. I think people are the problem.

  • Mary

    As a moderately religious millennial in New York, I do feel marginalized. If I even hint that I’m religious, people automatically assume that I’m intolerant, , xenophobic, and lacking in empathy. I’ve gotten a few quips like “scripture is the original fake news.” That hurt, but it doesn’t bother me much though because for me, faith is personal. I don’t seek to convert or preach to others. Instead, religion is calming and grounding. It’s familiar and comforting, and not one bit restrictive. The American Episcopal Church is perhaps one of the most progressive sects of Christianity; while still adhering to centuries-old traditions and customs, it has adapted as the sociopolitical landscape has changed. So much so that the Anglican Communion (the international ruling body of the Church of England) not only denounced, but suspended the Episcopalian Church for holding same sex marriages. I have always, always known that I would get married in my church, and now that my church supports and facilitates gay marriage, I have never felt better about this choice.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/the-selective-outrage-of-the-anglican-church/424569/

  • Hannah Nichols

    I am a Christian millennial, and I agree that our numbers are dwindling. I think people are afraid to talk about religion for fear of sounding close-minded and judgmental, which I know are stigma that are often associated with Christianity (and for good reason because some Christians are buttheads). I think people who were raised in the faith start to run away from it for the same reasons they don’t want to talk about it – believing in something and having faith and morals makes you sound like a weirdo in a ‘you do you ‘ society.

    • Emily

      Atheists have morals, though! As you seem to say yourself, religion ≠ morality.

      • Hannah Nichols

        I agree that atheists have morals for sure. I just meant that to me, it’s the morals issue that people don’t seem to want to discuss. And I think that’s an issue across the board, not just with Christians.

        • kay

          i think religious or conservative thinking about liberals and cities has an assumption that ‘you do you’ individualism is amoral because they assume it means that everyone prioritizes their individual will over morality. its a real misunderstanding, and you’re prob right that if we could agree to talk about morality we could prob clear that up. millennial individualism is so dedicated safety and justice for everyone, which is very moral.

        • Emily

          I’m not sure what you mean by that! I’ve always found this research interesting though, if this is what you’re getting at: http://www.livescience.com/47799-morality-religion-political-beliefs.html

    • kelleylynn

      I have to push back HARD on your last statement. I was raised in the evangelical church, and coming to the realization that I no longer identified as Christian and no longer believed in God was one of the hardest and most troubling processes I’ve had to endure. It was the foundation of my life for so long, and watching that crumble was, in a word, traumatic. This was not taken lightly. A lot of sleepless and hard nights. A lot of crying. A lot of wishing away my doubts but waking up and finding they were still there. In the end, believing in God, especially the iteration of God which the American church had tried to sell me, just didn’t make sense. There were too many contradictions, and I was tired of trying to make sense of it all when I knew it wasn’t right.

      So I’m a non-believer now. And this happened 4 years ago, so I’m totally okay with where I’m at now, but to assume that people lose their faiths only because they don’t want to look “weird” is obtuse. It’s a hard process for a lot of people, one that takes a long time, and is done very thoughtfully. Also, to posit that any ounce of morality is lost when you lose your traditional faith is equally as obtuse.

      • Natalie

        I really appreciate this response – it’s certainly an experience I identify with as well.

  • Dani Heifetz

    I think that it’s not so much about defining oneself as religious or atheist as much as it is that millennials just might not care about religion as much as older generations– like you said, there are so many things to focus our energies on right now that to a non-religious person, determining where you stand doesn’t seem so pressing.

    (Also, if you want to see a really good take on this topic, watch the Portlandia episode where the church is trying to figure out new ways to appeal to millennials. I think it’s the episode 3-D printer. It’s so funny!)

  • BK

    I grew up in a Catholic family and went to a hardline Lutheran school, and whilst I happily have a stable relationship with God, I absolutely have no time for either of those religious organisations. The Catholic Church is good at two things: producing child abusers and ignoring or concealing their crimes. At age 17, when the priest at my grandmother’s local parish’s crimes were revealed and the church responded by sending him on a HOLIDAY TO BALI, I decided I couldn’t take the hypocrisy anymore and rejected the church from my life. Meanwhile, the Lutheran school I attended affiliated itself with these bizarre, frenzied junior Christian camps which in one case saw two parent volunteers pin down an epileptic boy and try to exorcise him – and then blamed the boy when the police questioned them! By the time I came of age I decided I was done with the organised side of religion, for good.

    In my view – and this is my opinion only – the connection you make with God, whatever its form, is intensely personal and pure. It tends to be ruined when you filter it through a human organisation, because humans are inherently flawed and imperfect and can’t help but damage something so good. I have a solid relationship with God but I keep it to myself because I don’t want people to impact or warp it, and that’s my choice. Then again, my experience with organised religion has been underwhelming, to put it mildly. Others have had different experiences to me and as a result have a different perspective, and I respect that.

  • Horst Hansen

    hi. i’m not very much into god. allah can suck my dick.

  • Leslie Ortiz

    I was raised Catholic but once I hit my teen years it was obvious my very liberal views did not align with the church.Though I am very impressed with the new pope! I am 23 years old and stopped going to church at 16. I identify as agnostic because I honestly don’t know if there is a “higher being” and I’m okay with that. I am not worried about my mortality or living eternally after I die. I am very much a live in the present kind of person. I believe my parents raised me to be morally sound, believe in myself and do what is right which includes not hurting others in any way or fashion. I can’t help but believe my catholic upbringing assisted my moral self. So I often wonder when I have children if they will be as morally sounds as I’d “like them to be” since I will not raise them with a religion. Regardless, I think being a good, kind, helpful person is essential. Loving yourself is crucial and practicing self-care to be the only thing I practice religiously.

    • tmm16

      We pretty much share the same views! I was raised as Catholic, went to Catholic school, then as I got older, I became agnostic. For me, it’s really not that I don’t believe, it’s more or less that I just don’t know, I’m indifferent, and right now in my life, religion isn’t a priority, if that makes sense? I also wonder how I will raise my children. I don’t think I’m going to raise them with a religion, but I’ll be sure to let them know religion (all the different kinds!) exist and let them decide for themselves if they want to practice one. Overall, I think the best way to live, like you, is just being a good, kind, helpful person!

      • Leslie Ortiz

        Right on! I absolutely agree exposing them to religion is important. I feel understanding different religions is a way to understand the world – there are billions of people who live their lives according to religion and well different sets of rules. I would not want my children to be blind of that, I’d want them to know and be prepared to understand that the world is a complicated, diverse place where they belong.

        Sending you warmth and aloha!

  • Rae

    I like to say that I believe in god but not in religion. I believe there’s something, some sort of higher power, or higher plane of consciousness, or different realm of existence, that we as humans have limited access to. However, I don’t think that this (whatever it is) exists outside of science, but merely outside of our currently discovered and understood scientific laws.

    I was raised Catholic, and while I love the sense of tradition and ritual and community that comes with belonging to an organized religion such as Catholicism, I have significant disagreements on a lot of their teachings, which eventually led me to have to step away from the church. I still go to mass occasionally, just because I take comfort in the familiarity, but I no longer take the words literally. I have a cousin who (along with her husband) is an atheist, and she once told me that when it comes to raising their children, they “take the Christ out of Christmas,” which I love. So I’ve followed their example, and still participate and find joy in religious traditions (I display the nativity that my late father gave me, for example) while not attaching religious significance to them.

  • padutchchick

    I’m an old person (edge of boomer) and I work for an organization that preserves the history of a specific Protestant religious group. The extremes to which politicians these days feel that they need to proclaim themselves “Christian” (whatever that means — in my day, says the old coot, we called our selves by our denomination) is alarming and off putting. I hope the younger people can work to make this NOT an important factor in elections. I have hopes that as the older boomers die off you young whippersnappers will have a chance to elect individuals that do not profess to be “Christians” when indeed their actions seem completely immoral and unethical on any level and for any faith group.

  • 808kate

    I consider myself an atheist but usually say “ex-Catholic” because when I say atheist, people get squirmy. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school through 12th grade and an evangelical Christian summer camp in rural Pennsylvania for 5 years. I was a super religious kid. During my last two years of high school when I become more aware of social issues, specifically reproductive rights, gay marriage, and women’s roles in the church, I started to see some cracks in the ceiling of infallibility. Church child abuse was also being exposed at that time, and our teachers and priests tried to explain it away by saying the population of pedophiles in the church is the same as that of the general population. But we learned from the news that this wasn’t the case, and that the offending priests were being shuffled around the country. We also had our fair share of disgusting sexist goings-on at our school (search Paul VI Catholic High School on Jezebel, they’re still happening). Once my proctor berated me for the length of my skirt in front of the whole silent study hall (they only sell one length and I’m 5’9″ so it was comparatively shorter), sent me to the “Dean of Discipline” who had me stand and rotate around so he could look at me before he gave me a 4 hour detention. I also skipped out on mandatory confession and got another 4 hour detention, recently that priest got fired for asking too many sexual details from a student during confession. When I finally went to college I realized the way I now saw the world wasn’t at all in line with the things that I had been told my whole life and I finally had some measure of freedom. Also, crucially, being removed from the religious community, I realized I didn’t actually believe in God and had an emotional kind of “break-up” with him. So I left at 18 and haven’t looked back.

    • Hey Kate–I also grew up kind of religiously confused. My ma’s Orthodox Christian, my dad’s a humanist, and I went to Catholic school for about six years, where I had a long-standing religion class. For some reason, none of it really stuck. That is, even while I was in it, I wasn’t quite enthralled or buying it. When I put a few hundred miles of distance between myself and my religious education, I found that what remained was a very staunch sense of morality. I think a lot of religious people find some shelter in that argument: if all else fails, at least religion is instilling our kids with a good cornerstone of morality. Maybe that was the case, to a certain extent. And if not, then at least I got to read and know a lot about history, albeit through a very specific lens.

  • Marie-Eve

    As a Canadian, I’m continually astonished by the religious puritanism of the United States. I’m from Montreal and saying you’re atheist is not a dirty word here.

  • Shadowy_lady

    I’m an atheist and gave bern since a very young age (around 7). I grew up in a spriritual but non religious family. I’m also canadian though and being an atheist is not uncommonly or looked down on here. Pretty much all my friends are atheist or agnostic

  • Andrea Raymer

    its funny, because even though the majority of the population is at least somewhat religious or spiritual, i have always very much felt like i was in the minority as a born and raised christian that goes to church every Sunday. i felt like such an outlier amongst my peers even growing up in the bible belt to the point that I almost feel ashamed to bring it up in conversation. It is such a big part of my life and its hard to explain why i cant hang out on sunday and tuesday evenings (when i have church and bible study) without bringing it up. Perhaps this is why there is such a growth in secularism in millennials; people like me are afraid to speak up so the only voices people here are those that are using religion to judge people and discriminate.

    • ValiantlyVarnished

      Exactly. Sometimes when I casually mention that I’m Muslim to people who don’t know me very well I get a strange and quizzical look. I don’t “look” like a Muslim to them (I am not Arab and I don’t wear hijab). I generally don’t even talk about religion with most people but I have to say I do get a slight thrill from telling people that I’m Muslim and watching the utter confusion roll over their faces (as their stereotypes are completely dashed). But close friends of mine know I’m Muslim and they know when Ramadan comes around I can’t hang out and they are always respectful of it.

  • SL

    I am from the Netherlands where the big majority is atheist/agnost. And even here the church gets subsidies, so government and church are connected. I am sure most kids will be morally sound if you raise them well… In my opinion morals do not and should not depend on faith. I think most people here, and anywhere else in the world, think being a good, kind, helpful person is essential. The idea that you are kind to everyone because otherwise you disobey god, is scary to me. You should feel this kindness in your heart, not practice out of fear or custom. I do believe most religious people feel it in their hearts though ;). My dad’s family used to be catholic, his mum strongly so. I heard all the bitter stories about punishment and confession. Lots of family members removed themselves from the church’s register, because the subsidies are per registered person. The personal stories here are very interesting. I agree that religion should be personal, not political.

  • CDC

    I’m 25, and I became a Christian about a year and a half ago. Before that I was all about atheism (I even went to a Dawkins lecture at UCLA). I’m not sure of this is the case for everyone, but I became atheist after things I had prayed for did not come to fruition, and so I felt like I was talking to a wall (I was also about 13).

    For me it was easier to believe we were all in control of ourselves, our futures, and that religion was more of a Band-Aid for the unhappy. If there is a God then why does x, y and z still happen? I’ve been there; I was there for a long time.

    I got older and life got harder, and I saw that friends of mine who believe in God seemed to have an air of serenity about them that I had not found through therapy or antidepressants. I was on the brink, so I thought I’d give God a second chance.

    I want to emphasise that for me it wasn’t as easy as I’m making it seem. It took time to feel any kind of connection, but I actually opened my heart to finding it and here we are today. I believe in God and the personal relationship I have with him, but I don’t get tied down by religion. I’m new to faith and thus there are things I have not gotten my head around. Abortion, for example, is a tricky one. A life is a life, but I still understand there are extreme situations. I don’t think anyone can tell a woman what to do, so for that reason I think abortions should be harder to get, not illegal. The pro-life side and the pro-choice side tend to generalise the opposition, so while there are of course many, many cases where I would agree with an abortion, there are also some where people want a quick remedy for a birth control mistake and they ruin the validity of the argument for the rest.

    Nowadays I pray, but this time around I have faith that the things that don’t happen are not meant for me and thus I am better off without them. I still question, I still hurt when I see others using God (any God, not just mine) as a push for hatred, but I have faith and I have peace, and I am a better person for it.

    • Ché Hot Chocolate

      ❤️❤️❤️
      As someone who returned to the Christian faith in 2014, I completely get it. I hope that you grow in faith and experience all the beauty and splendor it can bring. God bless you.

  • kay

    im an atheist instead of agnostic bc i realized that even if i had proof bc god was standing right in front of me, personally i wouldn’t have a reason to follow him. i have some criticisms of atheism tho. generally when people talk about and practice atheism they also mean humanism, which is a belief system that involves a similar (though not quite the same) faith as religion. it’s the faith in human potential and reason to create good lives and solve problems, and the faith part is there is no way to prove human goodness and reason will always be equal to this goal. even saying “the arc of history bends toward justice” requires a certain view of history and faith in the future. i really wish atheists could admit this more often and talk about it, because when things get tough we could talk about our faith in people which would be a nice thing to offer, and bc a lot of times atheists talk about how stupid faith is in order to belittle religions, which is bigotry, and that’s my other criticism of atheism. sam harris for sure, and i think hitchens altho i dont know his stuff that well, veer into bigotry about religion. there’s never a reason for that. you can criticize religion without hating on it. even if you want to say you personally hate religion that’s one thing, but harris for sure gets into hating religious people in general, which is regular old bigotry. so hopefully if there is less silence about atheism this stuff could be talked about.

  • Allegra

    Raised as a half-hearted Christmas and Easter only (Christian?? Catholic? I honestly don’t even know the difference) believer, I’ve never been religious at all.

    To me I can understand how people turn to religion as a form of community, a structure in an otherwise chaotic life, or as a guide through dark times, but generally I really don’t get it.

    I almost every religion that I’m aware of, it involves following some sort of book or codex written ages ago, which is generally contradictory and largely irrelevant (in my opinion) to current society.

    I can appreciate needing moral guidelines or keeping faith as a way to feel better connected to the world at large, or to feel safer or to give reason for tragedies, but I guess it’s just not my thing.

    I also think my view of religion is connected- as someone interested in Sociology and History – to the reality of religion used as an oppressive tool of colonial and imperial powers.

    As a black woman I could never be Christian. That was a religion forced onto black people as a byproduct and means for enslavement. I just can’t.

    As a native woman, and as someone living in California, that’s also a huge no for me (the whole disgusting history of the missions, and spanish conquistadors, etc. etc.).

    The oppression of Palestinians by Israeli Jews currently and the Israeli government has made me equally non-interested in Judaism as a personal religious choice.

    Islam has also historically been used to conquer, so that’s out.

    There’s also the genocide of Rohingya Muslims by Burmese Buddhists going on right now…..so that’s Buddhism out for me.

    I guess my point here is though I consider myself a spiritual person (I lean more towards agnostic that full on athiest, if there is a god cool, if not cool) I tend to think of religion as both a personal and political thing and wouldn’t be comfortable associating myself with any major religion considering the atrocities committed by all.

    • Ché Hot Chocolate

      I completely get you but are the atrocities committed by the religions (as systems of beliefs/thought) or by the people who subscribe to them? Is the original religion as it ought to be practiced what resulted in those atrocities or the actions of a number of followers who are using the religion to serve their selfish interest?

      • Allegra

        Oh I totally agree that it’s the personal choice of certain (terrible) people who choose to use religion to perpetrate their own violent fantasies. My issue is that there are cases in most major religions where the scripture itself advocates violence or injustice- ie. the bible endorsing slavery, or the quran endorsing wives’ subservience to husbands.

        I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so it’s very hard for me to understand how people follow a religion so faithfully, even when they disagree with (or are unaware of) the content of their religious text.

        It should also be noted that in a separate section the quran makes it clear that each person only belongs to themselves and should therefore only be subservient to/held accountable by God. It’s the contradictions that kill me.

        • Senka

          Yes, it’s the content of the certain scriptures and the fact that it’s litteral interpretation can be so horribly missused and is being missused on a daily basis, that has to be addressed by religious people. Slavery, misogyny, pedophilia in respectively Bible and Quran and Hadith are all the issues that need to be addressed by religious people themselves so that the dialogue and understanding can be built.

  • CatMom

    I feel like a lot of this doesn’t account for people who feel a strong cultural connection to their religion (like Jews, for example) but who don’t believe in god. If you ask me whether or not I’m an atheist, I don’t really entirely know what to tell you – not because I’m uncertain of my beliefs (I feel with tremendous confidence that death is the end of existence and that there is no god and very little in the way of universal morality) but I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t Jewish, and I practice Judaism to some degree and keep the holidays. I’m sure I’m not the only millennial who feels this way. I know a lot of millennials who describe themselves as “culturally Muslim” much in the way that secular Jews will describe themselves as “culturally Jewish.”

  • I fall into the category above. I was baptised as Russian orthodox, which is very strict if followed by all the rules. Growing up we weren’t super religious – my dad is Nepali so it wasn’t his religion. We lived in Australia when I was little and we went to some sort of Catholic church as a way for my mom to make Aussie friends to practice English with. Then we moved to Canada and my parents divorced. My mom found some Russian orthodox churches here and she took me a few times but I never felt comfortable in the church. I hated having to wear a head scarf and cover my shoulders and knees too. I’ll never forget visiting Ukraine one summer and being forbidden to enter a church because I was wearing a tank top and shorts (it was 35 degrees celsius). I hated that I wasn’t allowed to eat certain things on certain days. My mom took me to church to get ‘cleaned’ once and I got rejected because I ate breakfast that morning. I always felt like I was judged and restricted every time my mom dragged me to church.

    Idk, if you’re religious that’s fine. Everyone’s entitled to their beliefs but I think it’s more important to be a good, kind person than in general.

  • Isabel Hope

    I’ve never really fit into most molds…partially because I am a Christian that believes in banning the death penalty, supports the BLM movement, etc. yet my views on other issues such as abortion are still considered conservative. Today’s society is so concerned with labelling everything that we rush to form opinions on topics without researching them first. And researching controversial topics can be discouraging, because more often than not, the majority of articles will be biased one way or another. So, a lot of people give up and choose a label (democratic, republican, unicorn) that defines their views for them.

  • belle

    NOPE.

  • kelleylynn

    I grew up in the evangelical Christian church. I officially “came out” as someone that probably doesn’t believe in God about 4 years ago, when I was 23. I guess I would say I’m agnostic.

    I do, however, recognize the good being brought up in the environment did for me. Luckily, for me, the good outweighs the bad (which is certainly not the case for many people who grew up in the same environment), but the idea of a God, at least how it is presented in the modern American Christian church, just makes absolutely no sense to me. None at all.

    I would strongly urge against folks relying on the Hitchens and Dawkins “New Atheist” crew when trying to find an “in” to atheism, however. They’re smart people, no doubt, but very abrasive and graceless and lacking in compassion or, it seems, the desire for fruitful conversation with people who don’t agree with them. Everything I hated about evangelicalism (I.e. proselytizing and shouting a lot about being right) is represented in this group, and for me I needed to find different people to align with as a newly godless 20-something. A guy called Chris Steadman who identifies as a “secular humanist” wrote a book called Faitheist that I really liked.

    • kelleylynn

      I’d also like to add that I still think a lot of the basic tenants of Christianity are really beautiful and true and helpful, especially in the current political climate. Even though I’m no longer a believer, I still find that I lean heavily to on the Gospels (the story of Jesus) for a lot of my moral and ethical decision making. Loving your neighbor, taking care of the poor, welcoming strangers, etc. etc.

    • Maybe it’s Hitchens’ and Dawkin’s very English humor that can come off as a bit abrasive and lacking compassion. And not to say that I agree with everything they’ve said (and the delivery), but I’m partial to the cantankerous old man persona 🙂

  • nevvvvave

    I’m a jewish atheist l o l

  • Ashley Marie Perkins

    I am an atheist and Millenial (age 29). Although, I haven’t always been one. I don’t remember when I became one, but I was in my very early twenties. Something just clicked, and I knew that I couldn’t keep ignoring scientific fact in the name of religion. Religion stopped making sense to me. I tend to get a little snobby when talking about my atheism, so… I usually don’t unless it’s with close friends or family who are used to my opinionated self. However, I do not take issue with individuals who believe in a god or gods or higher power. My only issues are actually ones you mentioned here: 1. When people say, ‘If there is no god, why is life worth living?’ Umm… because it’s LIFE! I am a human being that is on this Earth to LIVE! To help others, help myself, enjoy life and help others enjoy life. My life IS my purpose. I do not need a god to make my life purposeful. 2. When religion begins to interfere with the ability for humans of all cultures to live freely. Women’s rights, access to health care, the ability to marry who you like, climate change… all of these social, economic and political issues have been negatively affected in the U.S. in large part due to religious beliefs. And let’s not forget that thousands – if not millions – of humans for centuries have been persecuted and murdered in the name of one religion or the other. 3. When my morality is questioned. I am a moral person. I do not need religion to define what is right and wrong. My parents and teachers helped me understand that when I was young, and as I grew into an adult, I was presented with hundreds of scenarios that shaped my morality into what it is today. It is constantly shaping itself around the person I have chosen to be. And to end this on a nasty note… So-called “Christian” politicians who believe men shouldn’t marry men, or that men should sign approval for a woman to have an abortion, or who believe we should stop accepting refugees or think we need to start deporting immigrants or attest that climate change isn’t real or think appealing the ACA is a great decision – well, in my book at least, they are IMMORAL; obviously their religion hasn’t taught them anything.

  • Similar to what the author says, I always associated religion with morality. The difference is I believe religion guards the “guidelines” of morality. People say that things are wrong because “Jesus said so.” As an millennial agnostic (because I don’t like dealing in absolutes), I always saw that as a silly part of religion. I don’t need the moral teachings of a man who died 2,000 years ago to tell me stealing is wrong, or to love my neighbor and care for the needy.

    I’m going to get lambasted for this, but for honesty’s sake, here we go. I think that a lot of people who are very religious are in need of something in their life to tell them it will be ok, that what they’re doing is right, that they’re not alone and that they belong. They use religion as a crutch. I think of it as a weakness to need to depend on fables beyond the age of 13 to be a caring, confident person.

    I find my own sort of spirituality in knowing I have internal strength, but that comes from inside me and the love of my friends and family. Is that a place of privilege to have confidence in myself?

    • Uche Ezenwanyi

      I grew up in Catholic school but, like many, have somewhat distanced myself from the institution itself and found myself more in the faith. I often contemplate life, what’s the point, this shit is overrated, people suck, etc, etc. Sometimes I feel like I would love nothing more than to move to an island and sell alcoholic beverages on the beach. Life. Made. But I’d never do something like that. Because of purpose. For me, it’s not enough to be a good person. For some, it might be which is cool. But in constantly mulling over my life and what it’s about, I just don’t think that it’s about me being a generally good person. I have been #blessed (sorry, had to) in a real way. Things aren’t perfect (been jobless for a year and still looking), but the faith passed down from my amazing parents and grandparents along with said parents and grandparents, among many other things, are not accidents to me. So what now? What am I going to do with these blessings? (oooooh that sounds cheesy as all hell but oh well)

      I can live as a good person, but what if I want to do more? What if “more” is really hard? I may need a spiritual help that I can’t muster by myself. I’m very much into philanthropy and hope to pull a full-on Angelina when I eventually find my beau. When life feels like shit (as it often does) and I’m “weak”, my faith in God’s purpose for me keeps me going. And I’m not ashamed of that. I do need to know that it will be ok (see presidential election of 2016), that what I’m doing is right, that I’m not alone, and that I belong (to the brotherhood of man that sometimes seems to reject me or people like me). I think it’s somewhat unfair to reduce people’s faiths to a crutch, especially since we’ve seen many, many people have a positive impact on the world as a result of their “weakness”.

      But if that’s how you feel, I’m weak. As fuck.

      • Ché Hot Chocolate

        Yes Uche(We have the same name btw, I’m Uchechukwu)! Yes to this! Yes to all of this! I’m weak and proud of it. That weakness has given me so much strength and liberty I didn’t know was possible. I was raised Christian but when I got to Uni I lost faith. I questioned a lot of what I’d learnt growing up and couldn’t reconcile it with how I was struggling, so I stopped going to church. But when I went back to Christ at 20, it was the love and liberty I came to know on a deeply personal level that made it all make sense to me. My faith has brought me through so many hopeless times and has caused me to thrive and brought me so much joy and beauty that I can’t imagine life without it. It’s perfectly okay not to believe but to call it a crutch is a bit unfair to the millions who subscribe to faith in some form. Shouldn’t we be all about accepting each other not disdaining or looking down on each other for what we believe?

        • Uche Ezenwanyi

          Yessssss Igbo kwenu! (there were likely never be another time on Man Repeller for me to say that so I had to bring the culture) I’m Uchenna! (for the non-Nigerian, non-Igbo folk my name means “God’s wish” so clearly I was “doomed” from the start lol)

          I completely agree with everything you said. And there’s actually something very beautiful and honest about going through that period of questioning/doubt and coming out with a faith stronger than before.

  • PCE

    I assume I’m a millenial (I’m 30). I was raised Catholic, and my parents sacrificed a lot to afford to send my sister and myself to Catholic elementary and high school. That being said, I’m liberal leaning when it comes to social issues. Yep, I believe in God – I don’t have to explain why to anyone, either – but I also have the brain capacity to understand that not everyone else does, and therefore, my “religion” shouldn’t dictate what anyone else can or should do with their own lives. IE, I’m pro-choice, very interested in science (particularly environmental science and astronomy), all for gay marriage, etc. I also recognize that, hey, my beliefs could be totally off-base. It IS possible to separate one’s faith from one’s political stances – I’m evidence of that. Also, despite being educated in Catholic schools, I was also taught to think for myself and reach my own conclusions – which is why I separate my true, every day faith from the Catholic Church as an institution. I am no longer a “traditional, practicing” Catholic. I pray on my own terms. I do not go to church on Sunday or go to confession. I’m against the Church as an institution because I think it is hypocritical and that the rules are archaic and completely baseless. Do I shit on my friends and family that are still traditional Catholics? No. Do I shit on my friends that are openly atheist? No. Live and let live, think for yourself, and don’t confuse faith in God with institutionalized religion.

  • Tim Brooks

    I’m a 22 year old bisexual Christian, and I think everyone should ask questions about faith because it’s relevant to everyone, not just Sunday school for kids or old people, it’s for everyone!

  • Angela V. Wells

    So, I am 29 years old and I am the pastor of a church right outside of Boston. Let me tell you that in my anecdotal experience, to be a millennial and to identify as religious, let alone a pastor(!), is quite an anomaly in these parts. Pretty much every conversation I have with peers starts with me introducing them to the reality that progressive, socially and politically active Christians do exist. I’m concerned that the obsession with labels and identities is more divisive and harmful than helpful. I would not consider myself religious in the traditional sense of the word because I eschew a lot of the dogma associated with organized religion and I don’t go around shoving my faith down other people’s throats. However, what I love about the church is the sense of community and respect and support that people receive as well as the intergenerational relationships that are formed, which I think are lacking in the lives of many millennials because they are so siloed. This is all to say that being part of a local, interconnected and interdependent community has the power to change lives, whether it’s a church or otherwise, and I see that my peers are hungry for that community and sense of belonging. This is why I have a lot of people in my church who don’t necessarily identify as Christian or believers of any kind, they don’t come for the theology, but for the people, the community, and the consistent drum-beat reminder that they are loved and that they matter, and that they are good enough just as they are. Everyone needs to hear this message, Christian, Atheist or otherwise, and if people don’t hear it in houses of worship, because they aren’t part of one, then I wonder where they are hearing it.

  • Hayley Clark

    I intellectually recognize that there is no way to concretely prove or disprove the existence of god, but my gut feeling is that nothing is out there. I was raised Protestant and I think if someone were to do a content analysis of my prayers, 60-70% of them would be about asking forgiveness for being attracted to women, but most were fervent pleas to believe in god, that he would reveal himself to me. The idea of divine creation really never resonated with me from a young age, but I clung on to religion because the idea of going to hell had a lot of power over me. I’ve tried to go back to church because the community aspect of it is honestly really valuable and special.

    My parents and sisters really disprove and definitely think I’m going to hell, which is really hard. I have maybe one close friend that is kind of religious, but all the rest are agnostic/atheist. Many of which were raised in the church as well then fell off the train around the same time in high school.

    I’m at a catholic university now where I’ve met a lot of highly intelligent, liberal thinkers who are also religious. It kind of boggles my mind. I guess some people don’t “get” how aetheists don’t believe in anything, which I understand, but I think it’s just as weird to think about there being a god. We’re all just a bunch of clueless, frail weirdos just doing our best.

  • Alyssia

    I think the idea of God is not only important to think about, but it is the most important thing to think about. If everything the Bible says about the holiness of God and the eternity of hell is true, then wouldn’t you want the peace of knowing where you stand? The Gospel is simple, God is good, we are not, He greets us with open arms of forgiveness. If we choose God, we get to spend forever with Him in heaven. If we reject God, we don’t have to spend eternity with Him. Everything else should fall into place, motives, fears, hopes. Period.

  • Like the deep-think piece. Interesting research framed in an even more interesting context. I see you MR.

  • Eva Skewes

    It’s interesting to see so many comments from people who once had an organized religion in their life but have moved away. I grew up without any church and in a semi-rural area. I’ve always found my wonder in the transcending power of the written word or the great outdoors (those New Hampshire mountains!) and never really had any struggle at all. I’m not even sure you could say that my family is non-religious, because it implies we are against something. Outside of Judeo-Christian holidays (which we’ve always treated as an excuse to celebrate family and togetherness), I’ve never had any real relationship with religion at all.

    That said, finding out that the Chronicles of Narnia were written as a Christian allegory was devastating to little-me. Why couldn’t Aslan have been a very wise, talking lion?!

  • The only feeling I have about god is anger: anger that she does not exist.
    Anything else I can do on my own: always have.

  • Jess R.

    I am in my 20s, and I used to identify as an atheist, but I’ve found recently that agnostic is a better fit for me. Atheism is about belief. It is a certainty that there is no God. I don’t like this partially because it seems limiting. How would I have the authority to say that. Agnosticism is about knowledge. We cannot prove or disprove that there is a God (or Gods, or something spiritual higher power) and we leave it at that. I don’t feel bad about being under-represented because I don’t have this sort of belief system. I support politicians who match my views socially, politically and morally, and I can find that in a variety of people regardless of their religious views.