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July 27th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Why millennials are leaving the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates - edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions - Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. - precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Opinion

soundoff (9,864 Responses)
  1. Gipp

    So everybody starts quoting the bible, showing they can't think for themselves. I think the problem is kids are wising up and not believing some book written less than 3000 years ago by humans no less can tell them how we all came to be. They know that it's all profound, but they don't believe that. No reasonable person with any ability to think would.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Joe Frank

      That's easy. Your assertion requires only one existence proof to refute.
      Isaac Newton (Inventor of calculus) had an incredible mind. He believed in the God of the Bible, who was responsible for “creating, preserving, and governing … all things according to his good will and pleasure.”

      October 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • Seth

        Joe, you'd best leave your apologetics to people who are better at BSing, like Stephen Meyer or William Lane Craig. Arguments from authority don't make a case for your religion. "Existence proof." HAHAHAHAHA.

        October 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
        • Joe Frank

          Sorry you don't see Isaac Newton as a "reasonable person with the ability to think." I simply answered a logical question. You can label it BS if you want.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • A Frayed Knot

        Joe Frank,

        Isaac Newton spent more time studying the occult than anything else – numerology and alchemy... making gold using the magic Philosopher's Stone. Keynes called him: "not the first of the age of reason, he was the last of the magicians."

        Even real smart people can have some hare-brained ideas. Ever read how Aristotle thought conception occurred and how females were created?

        October 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  2. QuoteTheBibleBecauseYouCantThinkForYourself

    You should hear the religious half of my family asking why the educated half won't talk to them anymore. The reason is because they never shut up about "their" god and how "blessed" they are. Every single time we are all together one of them tries to pull some of the kids aside and give them "the god talk". Well last year my little nephew (9) stopped his cousin who was explaining why he was going to hell to say, " I'm sorry, do you also believe in Santa Clause."
    We all erupted in laughter and the godly half of our family left in an uproar because now all the kids are questioning Santa... even the 14 year old....

    my point is this. If you go to church and praise an invisible sky fairy who does Harry Potter tricks you should probably be ready for a little discomfort around people capable of independent and critical thought.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  3. QuoteTheBibleBecauseYouCantThinkForYourself

    Its funny how a rise in education directly coincides with a decline in theistic religion. The Earth is the all mighty. You can keep your children's stories.

    October 11, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Rob

      speak to a Jesuit and you'll find your statement false

      October 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • weismonger

        Simply quoting the bible, like a mindless robot, is absolute proof of brainwashing and delusions. This is exactly what the church and religion wants...people who cannot think and do not ask questions.

        Christianity and Islam is the stuff of mental illness...and just like paranoid schizophrenics, the religious believe only they are right no matter what kind of proof you put in front of their faces.

        Religious paranoid schizophrenics believe the entire world revolves around them, and they have no need to prove their claims to anyone...no matter how ignorant or stupid they sound.

        October 13, 2013 at 3:02 am |
    • Jim

      Hmmm....I have 3 graduate degrees...and, I still believe, and I attend church every Sunday with my wife and family.... Actually, it's about faith, a faith which is God-given and real. In addition I must note that I keep up with all my college friends, all of whom went on to graduate or preofessional school(s), yes, even Ivy League. All of them still believe, and all of them still attend church on a regular basis, honestly. There is simply no correlation in my world between "education" and non-belief.

      October 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • QuoteTheBibleBecauseYouCantThinkForYourself

        The correlation is there and it is very real. I did not say every person who has achieved a degree of higher education is a non believer I just made note of the ratio. You can keep your emotional responses.

        October 11, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
      • Patrick

        3 graduate degrees? In what subjects? How exactly did you get the time and money for 3 graduate degrees? Not sure if i am impressed and mystified?
        I assume none of those graduate degrees are in Statistics, because your statement makes no sense. All of friends and schoolmates think the tea party are crazy, yet 25% of people supposedly support them? I know of no-one that does. Does that mean the 25% is made up? of course not! The simple fact is that proper statistical studies have shown a direct correlation between atheist beliefs and education level.

        October 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
      • weismonger

        Faith means to accept something as true, without any facts or evidence. I am not impressed with Faith. Faith keeps people stupid and uneducated because when one has faith....they stop questioning, they stop asking for proof, and instead just become dumb, blind believers.

        And graduate degrees in what? Certainly not any field of science that demands proof and accurate observations.

        October 13, 2013 at 1:10 am |
  4. Joe Frank

    "Looking for Jesus". The most important yearning – you are at the point of most criticality. Jesus is there at the door. Read the Book of John That's Jesus speaking to you one on one. He will tell you the truth and will have all your answers, not man-made answers, that make God fulfill our specifications.

    October 11, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • James

      Jesus is a fabrication.

      October 11, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • Joe Frank

        How did you get to that conclusion?

        October 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • QuoteTheBibleBecauseYouCantThinkForYourself

          ever heard of critical thinking?

          October 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • weismonger

          Jesus is a fabrication because: There is NOT ONE SINGLE ORIGINAL CHRISTIAN WRITING, TEXT, wall scribbling, statue, pot shard, NOTHING about Christianity from the first and second century. None. Copies do not count, or people claiming they can "date" copies to the first century.

          And take a note: Its alleged that Jesus preached to 50,000 people in three years, yet not a single one of them wrote anything....not even a single statue of the new god-man exists from the first or second century.

          Its alleged Jesus had siblings, a mother and a father, yet NONE of them wrote anything about Jesus. There is ZERO evidence that Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John existed...no one ever heard of them, they have no lineage, none. Yet, the Babylonians and the Egyptians left millions of artifacts, writings, papyri, wall scribblings, statues, mosaics, pot shards, etc. that date back 6000 years.

          The best theological scholars (one's who are honest and let the proof speak for its self...and don't confuse "preaching and belief" with accurate scholarship) state that Christianity is a third and fourth century forgery, probably created by the Flavian cesars who wanted to create a new religion. The new religion would put everyone on the same page, create a state church, and a church tax to finance a failing empire and all its wars.

          Not one single concept in the bible, old or new testament, is original. Every line, every verse, every myth was taken from previous known myths, including Jesus' birthday, December 25th (Mithra and Apollo's birthday). Its time to grow up.

          October 13, 2013 at 1:43 am |
        • lionfou

          For me, whether Jesus lived is irrelevant.

          Whether his teachings are practical and improve the quality of life, is all I care about.

          Same with Buddha, Krishna, Lao-tzu–or the local grocery clerk.

          Your own heart is the ultimate authority (and I believe Jesus was saying that). The light in YOU is the doorway to heaven. NOW. Not pie in the sky when you die. No dogmas or religions or beliefs necessary.

          Belief, by definition, is not knowledge. "Science" comes from a Latin word for knowledge. "Gnostic" and "agnostic" come from the Greek word for the other kind of knowledge. No need to believe anything.

          October 13, 2013 at 2:09 am |
  5. eleanor fitzgerald

    Who can really define what God is? Are we figments of God's imagination?. Is God a figment of human imagination? Yet there must be something beyond the concept that it is all just evolution. There had to be a beginning. We are taught that God always was and always will be. Yet it is entirely possible that humankind will not always be. Perhaps God will create a better species because of our imperfections, our attachments to possessions and tendancy to hoard, our tendancy to make war, our self absorption, etc. . Who among us is truly Godly?

    October 11, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  6. Amy

    Every church I went to disappointed me. I tried I really did, but it's just full of hypocrites and self-righteous people, that rather spend more time and money arguing about evolution and gays than promote unity and harmony between all peoples. I consider myself a Humanist, we're all in it together.
    ~Generation Y girl

    October 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Max Maser

    As opposed to an arbitrary baseline "imagined" by macro-evolutionist? Funny, you date the layers (the so-called "Geologic Collumn") by the fossils in them and date the fossils by the layers they're found in (Truth- Look it up!) and call THAT science? I could assign ANY date to them as well if I practiced such "methodology". But since you elevate "circular reasoning" as logical, it makes your presupposition stance more understandable. Need some paper for that Gogol Plex?

    October 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Seth

      This is a straw man, first of all; nowhere have I mentioned the geological column. Second, your objection to the column is routed in this TalkOrigins page:

      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dating.html

      Relative layer dates are made based on superposition and index fossils (so named because they are characteristic of certain layers), but these are cross-checked with radiometry. No absolute or arbitrary dates are assigned purely by the positioning of a layer or fossil.

      October 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • Max Maser

        Really? Then why are they called "relative" layer dates and not "absolute" layer dates as they publicly claim? "...made on superposition and index fossils" ...sure, which are ASSIGNED a date to conform to the pre-determined "relative" age of the layers they are found in. "...but these are cross-checked with radiometry." OK..using WHAT baseline? Every dating technique has to have a baseline (a "yard stick" has to ALWAYS be 3 feet long, otherwise the "baseline" is meaningless). If the dates were CONCLUSIVELY proven by radiometry they wouldn't be "relative" now would they? How about the famous fossil of the trilobites embedded in a human sandal? I guess the sandal is 280 – 600 million years old? Perhaps its an extra-terrestrial sandal..."ET, come get your footwear"? How about Polonium Halos? Once again, issues of faith, not fact.

        October 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • neoritter

          Max, the footprint is fake. The shape is a natural fracturing of that type of sediment.
          See this link (remove spaces):
          http :// ncse . com/cej/2/4/tripping-over-trilobite-study-meister-tracks

          October 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • Max Maser

          According to whom? I've never heard anyone make that claim. Who faked it? "Natural fracturing" seems a convenient answer to an inconvenient fossil. BTW...I've never looked at the website you referenced earlier; rely mostly on reading books on the subject.

          October 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • Seth

          As who publicly claims, where? Absolute ages are always determined based on molecular or radiometric clocks, they are never, ever assigned arbitrarily. (For the record, if someone is doing that, they are doing it wrong.) A successfully dated igneous layer always sets the maximum age for fossils found above it.

          Radiometric clocks are "started" in a sample by the absence of certain (usually gaseous and therefore free to escape, like argon) elements from igneous rocks prior to time of those rocks' solidification. Those elements can then only be formed in the solidified sample due to radioactive decay. However, if geologists have reason to believe the rock was in an open system, then no dating method can reliably determine that rock's age due to cross-contamination.

          Based on the known half-life of the parent nuclide (your baseline), and on the ratio of parent to daughter nuclides in the sample, the absolute age of the sample (in terms of its formation from an igneous process) is determined.

          October 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
        • Seth

          The "sandal" in question is not a sandal at all. It's something interpreted by Cook, who found it, and other creationists as a sandal print. Ritter's article addresses what the "print" is more likely to be, the product of spalling.

          I definitely don't have the geological background to comment on polonium haloes. From what I have read, though, we have no reason to believe that the rocks in which they are found are the oldest rocks on Earth.

          October 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
        • Real1tyCheck

          Your utter disregard for science further proves the articles points. The reason things are relative is because of an exponential amount of variables. Here is proof; your "yard stick" is not always a yard, cool it and it's shorter – heat it and it's longer than a yard, but the yard stick is always relative to 1 yard (unit of measurement). Thermal expansion is your variable.

          October 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • James A Young

      If only religious-nuts could accept the obvious...
      It’s obvious.
      God does not promote the existence of “divine truth, inerrant truth, or absolute truth.”
      God does not inspire holy books, commission, authorize or write them.
      God does not authorize anyone to do anything in his/her name. God does not call, ordain, inspire, send or employ priests, preachers, witnesses, messengers, do-gooders, saviors, executioners or spokespersons.
      God endorses nothing and accepts no responsibility or credit for what people believe, teach or do.
      God can only be understood by intelligent individuals exercising common sense and critical-thinking skills.
      God does not regard humans to be his children or his responsibility.
      God does not have demands or expectations for humans that would require that we believe or do anything.
      God does not have laws, make laws, or encourage others to make laws on his behalf. God forbids nothing.
      God does not define or identify for us what is either good or evil, true or false.
      God does not judge punish and/or reward us on the basis of anything. God does not hold humans accountable.
      God does not get involved or take sides in religions, politics, wars, football games or any other type of contest, conflict, struggle or argument.
      God does not entertain prayers or answer them. God does not manipulate nature, solve human problems or intervene in human affairs.
      God never suggests or reveals what the future holds.
      God is never jealous, angry or seeking vengeance.
      God does not long to be loved, served, obeyed or worshiped.
      God does not desire to rule over anything.
      God does not have a plan for us or intend to interfere in human destiny.
      God does not appear to us, attend our meetings, talk to us, invade our dreams, offer advice, take a position, express a preference or opinion on any issue.
      God teaches nothing.
      God does not make promises or covenants with anyone about anything.

      October 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
      • weismonger

        James Young, that was absolutely brilliant....and the conclusion is:

        (drum roll): god does not exist, god is not necessary, god is a product of the human imagination and solely unnecessary.

        October 9, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
      • Lisa the Believer

        It's unfortunate that you do not believe there is a God. You have to look nowhere but at yourself to realize that you did not create yourself. Someone had to create you and that is God. Everyone, including myself, is a sinner. We must be redeemed otherwise we are separated from God for eternity. Don't go to hell. Get saved today. Ask God to prove himself to you.

        October 10, 2013 at 3:31 am |
        • Seth

          While I don't find James's post to be of much value in arguing against theism, your assertion that there must be a creator and that the creator must be your God is completely unsupported by observational evidence. The greatest living things humanity could come close to designing have been a single minimalist bacterium, yet you want to extrapolate the concept of design to something that has never been observed?

          I assume you don't accept evolution as an explanation for biological complexity, but even you would have to admit that our ultimate origin is inconclusive if we take an honest look at the facts. Science has never directly observed complexity-building chemistry to create a self-sustaining, self-replicating system, but neither has she observed divine miracles at work. Occam would hold that our origin is chemical but cannot prove it.

          October 10, 2013 at 3:40 am |
        • Nathaniel

          Yet Lisa's right Seth. God is her God, he is my God, yours, and even the athiests. He is a personal God who asks simply for a personal one-to-one relationship between us and Him, and to the best of our ability to live peaceably with all men. He's a personal God. But those who stand up and preach "send me your money", meaning ALL the false TV preachers, are not of God, but of antichrist.

          October 10, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
        • Will

          A personal one-on-one relationship with an all powerful omnipotent being?..... sounds a bit narcissistic to me

          October 11, 2013 at 12:07 am |
        • Truth

          A personal relationship with God is exactly what he desires. Just like Abraham he wants to be close individual friends with each of us.

          Hebrews 8: 11 "A nd they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, A nd everyone his brother, saying, 'K now the Lord,' F or all will know M e, F rom the least to the greatest of them. (Hebrews 8:11 NASB)

          Proverbs 27:11 “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me”

          October 11, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Seth

          Nathaniel, whether that is true or not is not in evidence – at least, not per my evaluation of it. You are welcome to believe, but know that your beliefs are not universally recognized as facts.

          October 11, 2013 at 12:40 am |
        • Truth

          A personal relationship with God is exactly what he desires. Just like Abraham he wants to be close individual friends with each of us.

          Hebrews 8: 11 “A nd they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, A nd everyone his brother, saying, ‘K now the Lord,’ F or all will know M e, F rom the least to the greatest of them. (Hebrews 8:11 NASB)

          Proverbs 27:11 “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me”

          October 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
        • Seth

          All three of you are missing the point. I'm not talking about the philosophy you take away from the Bible, I'm talking about first principles – What evidence is there for your God? Lisa started by saying that man is too complex to have arisen by natural forces. Whether that's the case or not, that's NOT evidence that Biblegod was the creator!

          October 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • dissidentfairy

          To all the believers who are trying to convince the antagonists on this forum to believe Stop don't even try. They are polarized in their refusal to believe and there is nothing you can say or do that will convince them otherwise. Jesus Christ said it best, “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:31

          October 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • Truth

          Heb 3:4Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but the one who constructed all things is God.
          Re 4:11“You are worthy, our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they came into existence and were created.”
          Romans 1:20 For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.

          October 11, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
        • Seth

          This is why I'm convinced that Paul was at the very least wrong, and at worst dishonest and manipulative – Nobody can extrapolate even the concept of "there must be a designer" to any particular god, let alone YHVH. Moreover, the available scientific evidence does not point to a literal modern English interpretation of the Bible, it points far, far away from what we'd expect of that unless there were a series of miracles deliberately performed to make it look as though it hadn't happened.

          In short, you might believe, but you believe through faith, not rationality – And Paul is flat out wrong.

          October 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
        • Truth

          Paul's words are consistent with the other Bible writers. The Bible has one theme because it has but one Author, God.
          2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.

          October 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • Seth

          Don't you understand what I'm saying? I pointed out how the passages you referenced can specifically be pointed out to be wrong!

          October 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
        • Charles Magnus

          Will,

          An omnipotent being incapable of personal one on one relationships. Sounds a bit limiting.

          October 11, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
        • weismonger

          Why is it unfortunate that I do not believe in god? As a nonbeliever, I have a clear view of the world...there are not dark corners filled with ghosts, demons, gods, or such delusions that confuse the human mind and often make the individual insane.

          In my Atheistic mind, 2 + 2 =s 4. I live in a state of proof. I do not have to keep hoping as I once did as a child, that god and Jesus approved of me, and was watching everything I did. I know what is moral, I know that in examining the bible that it is filled with such immoral acts approved and mandated by god and Jesus, that I could not live with myself if I followed these commandments by god and Jesus. Jesus not only approved of slavery but said that a master did not commit murder if he beat his slave nearly to death and the slave lived for 24 hours afterwards.

          I don't have to concern myself with the stupidity of End Times...being scared out of my wits that Jesus was coming back and going to punish us all for being human beings...and that if I didn't believe in just the right way, and the right version of god, then I might NOT be raptured. I don't have to concern myself with buying an "End Times Enema Kit" so that I can be pure inside and out when I fly up into the air to meet god.

          I don't have to fall down on my knees and pray and beg god to "save" someone I love and cure them of an illness. The ONLY people who save other people and work night and day to cure illness and the mistakes of nature...are doctors, researchers, and scientists. Your imaginary god has never cured anyone of anything...and the research proves that as a fact.

          I don't have to "obey" an imaginary father....up in the sky, who is always up there, watching, judging, making sure that I ask forgiveness of my sins....and feel guilty for dancing, or playing cards, and on and on. I live according to a moral code that is as old as time...do not harm other human beings, do not steal, do not tell lies, take care of yourself and those you love. NO religion is needed to teach these concepts...it is nature itself that promotes this as it keeps the species going. We also have a "right" to kill or stop others who wish to harm us. This is the law of nature...not of your imaginary gods.

          You need your imaginary god because you FEAR...you have been taught to fear nature, life, and what comes afterward. There may or may not be a heaven or an afterlife. That is irrelevant, because death is as natural as breathing air. My job is to live as successfully as I can and be happy during the time I am here on this planet. How I make myself happy...is my decision. The Atheist Founders of the US said...we have a "right" to be happy.

          Where did this right to be happy come from? From the Greek Epicurian philosophy the Founders were aware of...counter to the Christians' religious ideas of the day, that human beings were born sinners, and because Jesus suffered and died on the cross...we have to suffer to, to be consider "good." What total crapola.

          The Founders of the US were functional Atheists and founded the US based on no demands to worship god or obey the bible. Subsequently, the US became the happiest, most successful, and richest country on the planet and in all of known history. If you need god to be happy, I feel sorry for you...what an insecure, fearful, silly life you live. Grow up.

          October 13, 2013 at 4:00 am |
      • Josh

        Debating over science and religion is ridiculous. They are both faith base. It takes faith to believe in science and/or religion. Neither can be proven by absolute fact. Asking someone to believe in evolution is the same as asking someone to believe in a divine God. There are many great theories that support evolution thought of by many intelligent thinkers, but you cannot prove evolution anymore than you can prove the existence of God. I think the question we should ask ourselves is what is the human need for faith? Everyone has faith in something, whether that something is God, money, fame, intelligence, or evolution. We all have a deep desire to believe in something. Every culture throughout mankind has believed in some form of god/reason for existence. Whatever you put your faith in is a personal choice, but you cannot make the claim you do not have faith.

        October 11, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Seth

          Oh dear, Josh. Putting God and science in the same category of faith is ripe for getting an epistemological smackdown. By your logic, we convict criminals based on religious faith.

          October 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • bens772

        My, my, my. Finally, after all of this time, someone who knows the mind of an omniscient God. We await with great anticipation further revelations about God's mind from you.

        October 13, 2013 at 8:17 am |
        • lionfou

          The writers of the Bible claimed to know the mind of God.

          By what authority?

          "You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows."

          "Anyone who follows the spirit of God is the son of God." (Romans 8)

          "The letter of the law killeth, but the spirit giveth life."

          And the spirit is in US. The whole purpose of scripture, is to awaken that spirit. Not turn us into mindless robots. That's the LETTER. Which killeth.

          Jesus, Paul and John all said that "Love your neighbor" is the beginning and end of the law.

          The rest is horses***.

          October 13, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  8. James Young C. Kim

    Enjoyed reading this post, Rachel. While I'm inclined to agree with you, I am somewhat amused by the repeated "we want" motif. I'm sure that is an indicator of why millennials are indeed leaving the church to being with. While I may not be a millennial, I too have a heightened bs meter and it doesn't surprise me much that a highly individualized and self-affirming generation would feel that way, without realizing they too are part of the problem. Like every generation that preceded it, Millennials will grow up too. And the church survives every generation.

    October 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  9. Adelin

    I don't know if I totally agree with the standstill of millennials leaving the church out of dissatisfaction with today's popular church doctrines and the varying changes and trends a lot of churches are making. I think the church community in general–millennials, Generation Xers, and maybe the last of the Baby Boomers are evolving together with the times. With more people of the LGBT community "coming out of the closet", the continuing significance science plays in our everyday lives, the raising awareness on social and economic justice and lifestyle changes of a global consciousness (from yoga to meditation, organic green/white tea to herbal tea consumption, Eastern traditional holistic medicine to illness, etc.) that embraces people of different faiths, cultures, and traditions the Christian church with its archaic, self-righteous message no longer holds today.

    October 9, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Eric T

      True Christians live by God's standards found in the Bible. Our faith in Christ is what saves us. We don't capitulate Christian beliefs with what society says. If this holding to biblical truth is self-righteous so be it. But this self-righteous talk runs both ways. Who says you have the truth? And where do you get this truth from (some liberal text book)? So are you the one who is self-righteous? So if God did give His word to us in the bible, who are you to tell Him that he is wrong?

      October 10, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • maty

        That's the 'my way or highway' posture that turns people away from churches, Eric. Evangelical Christianity, as practiced widely in the US today, is a self centered, self aggrandizing materialistic pose.

        October 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
      • BOBp

        Then I have never met a true Christian. I have met lots of self-righteous , bigoted, prejudiced idiots who claim the label, but never one who met your criteria.

        October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am |
        • rock

          couldn't agree with you more!!!

          October 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
        • lionfou

          "I have nothing against Christianity. I just think it's never been tried."–George Bernard Shaw

          October 13, 2013 at 1:28 am |
        • weismonger

          And so exactly what is a "true Christian?" The bible says so many confounding, and conflictive statements that you can be anything you like and call yourself a Christian. And since when did you get appointed as the arbiter of what it is to be a "true Christian?"

          Likewise, I am amused by people who claim they speak for god and Jesus. Just how do you twits do that?

          October 13, 2013 at 4:06 am |
  10. Kevin

    I'm sorry but please speak for yourself...not "everyone else." I completely disagree with your logic..

    October 9, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • lionfou

      "True Christian" is whoever loves their enemies, judges not, "does unto the least of these". I didn't decide anything. Nor is it a matter of opinion, just as whether the moon is made of green cheese is not a matter of opinion. Or the atomic weight of oxygen.

      And the distincition is important, just as the distinction between the Crusaders slaughtering 40,000 civilians when they conquered Jerusalem in 1099 (false Christian), and Martin Luther King saying "I can't like someone who bombs my house. But I have to love him." (true Christian)

      Without that distinction, we are dead lost. Like evangelicals voting to blow up hundreds of thousands of innocents, while cutting food inspection leading to salmonella outbreaks.

      It ain't rocket science for a true heart.

      "I thank you Father, that you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual, and revealed them unto babes."

      Even animals often do a better job at reading people's hearts, than many humans.

      October 14, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • lionfou

      Sermon on the Mount, no more, no less. I didn't add a thing. "Do good to those who hate you." Is there anything unclear or confusing about that? Anything debatable?

      As far as what "doing good" looks like–that's up to each person. Torturing innocent people probably doesn't qualify–though the medievalists thought so.

      Acid test for Christians is "How many seconds after 9/11 did it take before you started praying, not just for the victims, but for the perpetrators?

      Not seconds?

      OK, minutes.

      Not minutes? Hours? Weeks?

      Oh. I see.

      Yeah I know, the Gospel is the opposite of what we would ordinarily do. Otherwise, it wouldn't be necessary to write it.

      October 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  11. Seth

    "You've no evidence to support that statement"

    Let's start from the beginning. You claim that Thallus said there was a darkening, that there were earthquakes, etc... And just now you choose to include the fact that Africanus wrote that he was quoting Thallus, and that we don't even know to what original source he referred... And now you expect me to believe Africanus, a person of faith, was really quoting Thallus concerning potentially supernatural events and not just name-dropping to add credence to his favorite religion?

    But suppose you're right, and that Africanus and Thallus were both genuine. Suppose for the sake of argument that there were indeed earthquakes and an eclipse, or "darkening," or what have you – Again, this can still be reasonably rejected as an attribution to Jesus, and for the same reason one can reasonably reject his so-called fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies. Remember... Two tries.

    October 9, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • Max Maser

      There will be no "two tries" there wasn't even "one try". Your conclusions are based on presupposition and your faith, not facts or "critical thinking", ergo your rationale doesn't concern me. YOU engaged ME...so who's trying to convince who here? I do not require your validation, so why do you feel you need to demand that I do? You're trying to convince yourself, else why aruge an issue of belief over an article where the author ISN'T even arguing belief (she clearly acknowledges the divinity of Christ) but trying to reconcile what she WANTS Christ and Christianity to be verses what Christ and Christianity ARE? Your logic is swiss cheese...please define "reasonable" rejection. What is "reasonable"? What YOU say is reasonable? Sure..."Critical Thinking" indeed. Therefore, there's nothing to discuss; you can't even hit a proverbial "underhanded" pitch so why would I even try throwing you a fastball? I hope you find the Truth regardless though, because God loves you and wants you for His own. The fact that you would engage us like this proves you're still "hungry" for it, and that's good, so keep doing so.

      October 9, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • Seth

        "Your conclusions are based on presupposition and your faith"

        What is reasonable to believe?

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oSJdSL8YOE&w=640&h=390]

        Since you've been failing to grasp my rationale, I'll spell it out for you:

        Consider your mention of Christ fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies. You bring up some impressive odds in support of the prophecies being successfully fulfilled. I agree. It is very unlikely that any one man could fulfill those many prophecies. That is why I would be within the realm of possibility (note my wording) to suggest embellishing on the part of the Gospel writers, able to write that Christ fulfilled said prophecies because they had a rich collection of prophecies and traditions that had existed for centuries from which to work.

        Why accept a secular explanation instead of the theistic one? For me personally, I find such a secular explanation, unsupported as it is, more likely because my general experience is that Biblical-style miracles don't happen and that Biblical-style prophecies are not fulfilled.

        In other words, you need better evidence that these prophecies were actually fulfilled, because what is reasonable for outsiders to your faith to believe is that which logically meshes with their available set of facts and experiences. Outsiders, unlike you, do not start with the Bible as first principles.

        But, you say, you're still having faith, presupposing invalidity of the theistic explanation and validity of embellishment without evidence. So I would be, if I made an absolute claim that there was embellishment. But I'm not: I'm pegging a possibility that makes yours not the only necessary explanation, much like Dustin Hoffman suggests a man dropping his sword rather than God sending down a sword as an alternative explanation for why there is a sword in a field.

        Was that really what happened? We don't know, it's just a possibility that can be compared to other suggestions. You, on the other hand, are the one making absolute claims about divine prophecy and miraculous creation – Is this not faith? Is this not presupposition? You, and every believer like you, are collectively Milla Jovovich's character from this scene – you would rather have magic and miracles form the basis of your worldview because it suits you.

        October 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • Max Maser

          "you need better evidence that these prophecies were actually fulfilled," Actually I DON'T...but YOU DO. Like I've already said, you're not really interested in a debate over evidence, just a self-validation to fight YOUR own internal DOUBT. Ergo, I don't NEED to understand your disbelief, but you feel you HAVE to validate it to me. THAT is the most telling point of our discussion. You should listen to that doubt; it's called the Holy Spirit, it's the hunger in your soul for REAL truth.

          October 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Seth

          And here the argument devolves into armchair Pauline psychoanalysis on your part. I'm disappointed.

          Tell me something Max; if I'm feeling doubt now, what was I feeling that caused me to leave Christianity? Not doubt, surely, but rebelliousness? There is always uncertainty over unprovable positions unless, of course, you have your head up your rear- or you have faith. Sometimes there isn't much of a difference, especially when you think that faith gives you license to know others' thoughts and feelings.

          October 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • Max Maser

          Like you think your disbelief gives you license to "know" and question mine? YOU started this discussion remember? ALL of us entertain doubts Seth; that's NORMAL. I do sincerely hope you find answers to yours; I mean that.

          October 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
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    October 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  13. Roxy

    YES. This is a fantastic article. Exactly how I feel. Articulate and to the point. Absolutely LOVE it. I want to say more, but I'll leave it at that. Thank you.

    October 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  14. pa jesseson

    they are leaving the church because it's fun in bed with other humans and the church has failed to take that (overtly) into account for the millions and millions and millions of catholics who are getting it on, as they always have, in hotter and hotter ways that have nothing to do with hell. scalia, of course, is another story, poor boob.

    October 8, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  15. samitchell79

    Did she really say the Catholic Church is unpretentious?

    WOW!

    Someone please introduce me to this Jesus, everyone keeps referring me to a book whose authorship is unknown and is full of contradictions and galactic immorality. Very bad form for allegedly serious people.

    October 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  16. Seth

    This censorship system needs a serious overhaul.

    October 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.