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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. Trevor Bryant of Flagstaff, AZ

    I think this is a very well written article. Faiths need to understand, we care more about what you CARE about than what you hate. They don't want prepackaged answers, they can read those on the internet. If it was as simple as "I have this problem": read this passage in the Bible, say 12 hail mary's and 2 "who's your daddy's" we wouldn't need a church, just a website. People have REAL problems, and they want REAL solutions. They want REAL caring. They don't want you to WANT something from them. They don't want you to hate them because you don't line up 100% with YOUR values. They don't want to be judged, they came to you KNOWING they had a problem. They are asking for HELP, not a prescription. There is no panacea for spiritual decline. People want to TALK to you, they want to hear that you CARE about people. They want to hear how YOU solved an addicts problem, what you said, how you said it. They have real problems, and they want REAL solutions. Church leaders increasingly have seen their fellowship as a vehicle for their own glorification, and they hold up the rest of the Bible as infallible, and it is not. It is filled with hate. Your fellowship came for Jesus, and they STAY for Jesus. They want to hear about him, and his loving and understand his virtues, not hear the opinion of some gay hating zealot who also liked Jesus in the 2nd century, and put his own mark on the religion (I'm looking at YOU deuteronomy!). Most pastors can't talk about their faith because they HAVE NONE. They have blind followers, and they don't understand why people who can see wouldn't want to follow their near blind leadership. God is love, everything evil is based in fear (not hate). It really is THAT simple. However, getting people to understand that is harder than anything. How do you explain fire to an infant who has no experience, and no knowledge of it? How do you explain the extent of Jesus' love, if you have never felt that kind of love before? How do you become that, with no knowledge of it?? These are not easy questions. How these things apply in the modern world are even harder. The pastors haven't figured this out because they are not very good at anything but knowledge of that book, and the book they know so well, is hatefilled and wrong in so many ways. People can learn, even from the bad parts of the Bible, they expect a pastor to be an advocate, but not blind to it's deficiencies, or ignoring how it marginalizes people, despite what Jesus said. How can you still call yourselves christian, if you hold that book up, and defend things in it, that directly contradict it's superstar hero: Jesus? We are tired of the hypocricy, we are tired of the BS, we want you to GET REAL with us. No amount of marketing can sway us, we have been overloaded with it already. We are not a product. We are human beings. And we are searching for good answers to hard questions, to live a good life. We feel god, but we are not getting the straight talk from the people who should be giving it to us. As a result, we look elsewhere, realizing that those answers are at least as good as your BS, and perhaps a little more honest, and a little less patronizing.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Mr.Black

    A truce between faith and science? I have news for you: science is not attacking faith. Science presents facts. If you tell me the sky is yellow and I tell you it is blue, I am not attacking you. Faith should stop being so defensive.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Landon

      Mr Black, I think she would agree with you. She's calling for an end to the church's defensiveness and its habit of creating 'us vs them' culture wars.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  3. Goodman C. Brown

    Whenever has there been a Generation ______ (the one most lately struggling to come of age) that didn't find itself somehow more genuine,less tolerant of superficiality, more desirous of finding Jesus, and–most inexplicably–completely self-qualified to pass judgment on their parents' church? We'll do better, at any age, to quit trying to find Jesus in church and let him be found in us whether as the church gathered or the church scattered.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Vic

    I am a believer in God Almighty, the Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit, the Creator of the Heavens and earth, this entire universe and life in it, by Whom Grace I am saved through Faith ALONE in Jesus Christ as Lord and my personal Savior (Salvation.) That is my focus and apart from the Law.

    July 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • JJ

      I'm sorry.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • sam stone

      interesting how you desire eternity with a being from whom you feel you need to be saved

      do you just enjoy being on your knees?

      you will likely enjoy servicing the savior, if you can pry jerry fartwell off of him

      July 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      Faith alone huh ?
      Do you look both ways when you cross the street?
      or better
      Why do you hold your childs hand when you cross the street?

      July 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  5. Margaret Kleinschmidt

    ME TOO, THANK YOU !!

    July 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  6. Sue

    True faith is tested faith, children talk about their idealism and dream about living simply, because parents have provided everything for them. Few have lived through hunger and loss, worrying about whether their children will have medical coverage, enough to eat or if they will have a home. True faith is tested and still relies on Jesus.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      why you need medical coverage if you truly believe? Shouldn't you just have to pray?

      July 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • cbfromict

        That's not what the Christian Scriptures or Orthodox Churches teach. God is not removed from the world, and he rarely acts without involving the people he created. He created us to be able to care for one another, and that is His expectation of all of those who claim to follow Him. Paramount in Orthodox Christian teaching is not that God ever intended to take away disease from us in this world, but that in the midst of the suffering we all must endure, we would love one another. He could remove all sickness and disease from all the world, and if we didn't learn how to love one another, life would still be misery.

        July 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • skytag

          There is no evidence God has ever done squat. Christians have a variety of ways to rationalize this, because rationalizing is all they have.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  7. Christopher

    I am in complete agreement. Very well written and to the point. One other thing is that an inspiring service that challenges me seems too few and too far in between. I'm in college and have no money so when have the service is about giving money either to the church or the charity of the week I often feel like I should have stayed home. I yearn to learn more about Christ and actually read from the bible.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    "At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

    Rachel dear, at 32, I'd say you don't.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      If we're using such labels, your reference to Nirvana and Pearl Jam pretty much paints you as squarely GenX.

      Sorry, but you're not the hipster you think you are.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Having said that, and excepting your use of the word "we" to define yourself as a millennial I don't disagree with much of what you wrote – except for one thing,

      Because evangelicalism in the US is so bent on insisting on orthodoxy (which I find highly ironic for any form of Protestantism) including Biblical literalism you drive away anyone who comes to value critical thinking.

      It is critical thinking that fuels the "BS meter" that you refer to and the blatent hypocrisy of Evangelical leaders is what turns millennial away.

      And Rachel, they're not becoming Catholics and Eastern Orthodox converts. They're becoming non-religious and indeed that most terrifying subset of the non-religious – atheist/agnostic.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • BS Meter

        Why is the atheist/agnostic movement so scary to you? I'd say it's one of the most refreshing. It garners people who question religious beliefs and everything around them freely. it collects people who odds are, are more of problem solvers than those who hold onto their religion. It also holds people accountable; you don't have some god to beg for forgiveness or offer up donations to some church to be granted absolution of your sins.

        I have personally met more atheistic people who are more morally sound than most Christians I have met, and I think this is because they only have one chance to do real good on this planet, that their legacy is the only thing that will survive through the ages, not their souls. Maybe you should go out and try to meet some more atheists or agnostics before you condemn the entire group for their lack of religion. I find them, and myself to be rather productive, and positive additions to society.

        And at least if we are good people, you can say that our intentions are more pure and less motivated by some promised afterlife.

        July 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • ANCampbell

          BE Meter is right, the atheist & agnostic group of people aren't bad people at all. I don't understand the people that say they are afraid of these groups of people. We don't go around killing people, stealing from people, murdering people or molesting people...we don't do any of those things at all. We don't even try to "convert" a believer into a non-believer. We just simply don't care what the person next to us believes in or doesn't believe in. We go about our business in this life as we feel we should and need to. We always question everything and do it freely with no fears. We aren't afraid to be ourselves for fear that we won't be accepted by a God(s) (or Jesus). We are very productive members of society; we hold down full-time jobs, we give to the community (when possible, but not everyone has the means of doing so), we want peace among our fellow people, we want all religious wars to come to an end and for everyone to just accept what others believe in or don't believe in. And, I see more morally sound-minded people who are agnostic or atheist than I do with Christian people.
          I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV: perhaps you should be more open minded and not so judgmental towards others. If you just think outside your little box a bit more, you will find that agnostics & atheists aren't as bad and scary as you portray them to be. Good day!

          July 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • IHAVESEENT THELIGHT

          My BS meter just went off BS meter...how many Christians do you know and hang out with? I agree in many ways with what you are saying, I am a believer, but I don't tend ot like Christians that much. I have worked in 30 to 40, not really counting, food kitchens, homeless shelters, clinics for people on the streets and even stayed with a gay friend who died from AIDS, in the early 90's. In ALL of those places, run by local government agencies, or CHURCHES, I met 1 non believer, he and I are still very good friends. 1! I was an actor for 12 years, I was a minority in all the places I went. Most weren't believers. I was a terrible example of what a follower of Christ should be. BUT that has nothing to do with what Jesus stands for, lived for or is to this very day. i and all other believers are not Jesus. We are supposed to follow His example. Many many do, I would argue more don't. That is no reflection on Him though. It is all on us. I look at cultures around the world where the Govt isopposed to Jesus people and I see a counterpoint to your post. I just do. I am not saying I am better than you, because I don't think I am. I think many of my atheist friends, I have lots, are better people than many, and I mean many, of my church friends. Once again, this does not change my faith. Faith should be reflected in our works, but alas is not done as often as it should.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • IHAVESEENT THELIGHT

          ANCampbell are you really saying that atheist or agnostics commit no crime? So the opposite of that statement is that all crminals are people of faith?? WOW! So why did Son of Sam, David Berkowitz say he found God in prison and that changed his life. He was agnostic according to his own words...just one thought.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          BS Meter and ANCambell,

          I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV: perhaps you should be more open minded and not so judgmental towards others. If you just think outside your little box a bit more, you will find that agnostics & atheists aren't as bad and scary as you portray them to be. Good day!

          your comments are prima facie illustrations of the principle that intended sarcasm is not always apparent.

          Ms. Held Evans ignores the obvious alternative when she writes:

          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

          I am an atheist. I was being sarcastic.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
      • Jeff

        I would add Christian Agnostic as a subset to your agnostic category. I think more and more people of all generations are seeing agnosticism as a more authentic position. It embraces mystery and acknowledges the possibility of human existence being bigger than the temporal world. The louder and more obnoxious Chritianity becomes as it insists that only it has the Truth, the more irrelevant it becomes.

        July 29, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          @Jeff,

          Don't fall victim to some bible belt rhetoric. They have no better understanding a God then you do.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • Jeff

          @ Harry Cline,

          I agree.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Merrillee

      Millennials are described as having been born in the 80's and 90's. Having been born in 1981, she is, as she states, barely qualified.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Merrillee:

        Wikipedia:

        Generation X, commonly abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the Western Post–World War II baby boom. Demographers, historians and commentators use beginning birth dates from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.

        Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, is the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when Generation Y starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth dates from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.

        There is no precise cut off. From her own tastes, she is a Millennial.

        July 29, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          oops "not" a Millennial, but GenX.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV,

          1964 is the end of the baby boom. (started in 1946) I would have to agree with your earlier comment, at 32 she's much to old to be crying about feeling left out.

          I view her article as a political hack on the left trying to recreate a God in the image being pimp by rags like CNN. They all do it. Right, Left you name it.

          We got any kind of God you like. Forgiveness on the cheap and 10% off any home improvement.
          Screw your neighbor or even the dog, you found a friend in Jesus.

          Hallelujah brother ..

          July 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  9. Mary L. Davies

    I am 72, a retired teacher,wife,mother,grandmother, Episcopalian. I think/believe like you do young lady. Bless you for putting my personal thoughts into such clear, intelligent language. Peace be with you!

    July 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  10. Stephen

    While this blog is very thoughtful in explaining postmodern problems in our faith communities, and that alone is a reason you should read this, it offers only modern solutions. What I mean is, the reason one postmodern person is not interested in the Church is not the same reason other postmodern people aren't.

    That's a function of postmodernism: I have problems and solutions unique to me, and you have yours.

    In trying to keep this short, another problem I see in this article is that it implies postmodernism discriminates. It does not. There is no emerging generation. Postmodernism is a non-discriminatory philosophy. It is not confined to age. To limit it to age is, once again, a modern thought.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • hee hee

      There is not a single word about postmodernism in her article, thank goodness.

      July 30, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  11. michael

    First of all, it's important to remember that there will always be a disagreement between the secular and sacred. And it's also important to remember that any Church worth its salt needs to remain consistent with its core tenet. The sheer numbers regarding (perceived) hypocrisy bares this out.

    If today's youth seem disenfranchised from Church, then the body of the Church needs to figure why. At some point, the tenets of the Church will need to be made manifest again, which then in turn may lead to a revival, which then in turn may lead to authenticity, which is exactly what today's youth appear to be craving.

    After being battered about by all of the spin (in politics and in media), it's no wonder that today's youth feel lost. The Church would do well to position itself as a safe harbor in a sea of unknowns, which was a primary point of the Church to begin with.

    Both the youth and the Church need to apply effort and labor to make this work.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Jeff

      I don't know that today's youth feel lost as much as they feel the church is lost.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
      • michael

        Jeff,

        If today's youth feel disenfranchised from the Church because of the direction that they've perceived the Church to have taken, then today's youth need to step up and get engaged, to bring the Church back to where it needs to be. Walking away from Church isn't going to solve the problem.

        If the "old" guard is the problem, then it's time to infuse the guard with some youthful exuberance and energy.

        July 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • Jeff

          The last thing the evangelical church needs is more exuberance and energy.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • ANCampbell

          Today's youth is leaving the church because they have no believe in a God(s). Today, there is so much more access to science and things of the sort, so they are questioning the existence of any God(s). There is nothing wrong with that...people need to be the decision makers themselves as to what they believe or don't believe and practice or don't practice.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  12. Dyonisius

    Interesting, but unfortunately you're way off. What your searching for doesn't exist. If we can be real for a minute: the bible was written thousands of years ago. Jesus lived/was created thousands of years ago. Unless you're going to re-write the bible and recreate jesus, your proposal is completely irrational. If one wants to recreate the caveman lifestyle, one must live in a cave, without electricity or anything else that came after cavemen. What you're pushing for is a new religion, not christianity. The reason many millenials are heading back to the catholic, episcopal. etc churches is because they've accepted reality: If you want to be a Christian, you must also accept the fact that it's an outdated, unmovable practice incompatible with a truly modern lifestyle. That's the point. You're fooling yourself.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • michael

      Perhaps someone needs to take a Bible history class to understand how old the Bible really is. And the time frame in which the Bible was written.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Sarah

      The point is to have Jesus, you reject the "modern lifestyle" you speak of. This lifestyle glorifies self interest and money when what our Christian generation wants is to put God first. God's love and the Bible has not changed, which you may find "outdated," but that is not a problem for Christianity. It shows the problem with our modern culture.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Laura

      Dyonisius, I would challenge you to (with an open mind) read through Isaiah and look around at what has been happening in the world over the past 30 years in particular. It doesn't matter how "old" you think the Bible is; the reality is that prophesies that were foretold of years ago are rapidly coming to fruition. And it doesn't matter if you believe in God or not; He believes in you, and He love you.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • Colin

        Interesting Laura. Please quote two or three of the prophesies and explain how they are coming true.

        July 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Laura, don't you find it interesting that Christians have been claiming those prophacies to be coming true for 2000 years now? When will you admit failure?

        July 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  13. nofluer

    If Jesus wanted to comment on this piece, He wouldn't be able to as I doubt he has an account on Facebook, or on any of the "social media". Funny that social media has not worked to improve communication, but to reduce it. Just like in HS – if you aren't in The Clique, you don't exist. God allows all who will come to Him to do so. Too bad you don't follow His example.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • hee hee

      Talk about a cop out. Your supremely powerful god is unable to communicate with me because of ...facebook.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  14. nate

    so she wants the church to be a Democrat fundraising party... just because one party voted to kick God off their party platform and the other openly accepts and calls Evangelicals their base doesn't mean the church is hostile to millennials. The church shouldn't be 100% political but it is within the pastor's duties to present politics and citizenship based on the Bible. I think the younger generation has historically left the church and came back, Generation X had a similar pattern. We sow our wild oats and then come back when we find the world didn't fulfill us and Jesus can.

    July 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • skytag

      Right-wing rant. Snooze alert.

      July 29, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      Jesus fulfilled me once... fortunately I was prescribed antibiotics that MEN created and that nasty christ-delusion infection was gone!

      July 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  15. Moises

    It's because they didn't find the the True Church – Inquire about the Iglesia Ni Cristo or the Church of Christ. It will answered all our question & doubts.

    July 29, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • skytag

      Fairytales in Spanish are still fairytales.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • David

      Moises. Preach to the choir. Doesn't every church say that. Please google that sentence and see how many results you get (The true church). Moises don't take everyone for a weak mind. Please be good to everyone, whether they go to church or not. What's wrong with you people, you just don't listen. You don't need to come to a website and preach that you have found the True Church. Go out in the world. I work with someone who brings his bible to work everyday and preaches during lunch, yet a $100 fake dollar bill was put on the floor and out of everyone that picked it up and was asked that if they found it to please give it back because one of the co-workers had lost it and they really needed it back, he was the only one that denied it, denied it and denied it, even though they had videotaped him taking it. This happened about a month ago. He goes to the True church every Sunday.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Ava

      Yeah, the church who has Christ in their name, but are not really followers of Christ but of Felix Manalo.
      Kid, haven't you heard, "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh?" Read the scriptures naman, kapag may time.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  16. David

    I left the church because I saw the hypocrisy being displayed from the church members and the pastors/priests. It upset me to see people going to church and acting the part on Sundays and then interacting with them the rest of the week and seeing what horrible human beings they can be. They don't care about God during the week, but come Sundays, let's act the part. Talk about pastors/priests...If you haven't seen them caring more about the money being donated or their perception of what the bible says, then you haven't really been to church lately. As part of a younger generation, I question more and are way more perceptive to the BS that I see around me. I believe in God, but I don't trust in what I'm made to believe are his "messengers" or the parishioners that attend the church on Sundays which turn out to be horrible people the rest of the week. And you may say, well I'm generalizing and putting everyone into one group. I say to you, you are correct, but as it turns out from my view point, the majority fall into these categories. How can anyone change my mind: Go back to the root of Christianity and listen and learn the basic lessons (be good to everyone) – it doesn't matter if you are jewish, muslim, atheist, black, white, gay, lesbian, ... Be good people. Grow a conscious – everyone goes to church on Sundays and must think that it forgives them for being horrible people the rest of the week – guess what it doesn't and we all see it (Generation X, Millenials, whatever generation). The priests/pastors don't care about any of the suggestions I have just listed above, but they do care that you at least send in your donation for the week. The world is run by money and greed and that is shown in the church and parishioners.

    July 29, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • michael

      David,

      Take a step back. Your comment indicates an inclination towards Catholicism, which unfortunately or fortunately (depending upon perspective) is steep in tradition. Contact BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), a non-denominational organization devoted to teaching you about the Bible, and how the Bible applies to you. Take the classes (yes, plural), they're free. Find out where they are in your neighborhood. Educate yourself, and then apply what you've learned in your local church.

      At the very least, you may just find that your local church isn't meeting your needs and that's okay. At the most, you'll be an entirely new creation. Good luck

      July 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Ben

      David, We fix our eyes on Jesus not on man or we're going to be disappointed.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  17. jameswatkins

    A 61-year old "boomer" will probably ruin Rachel's credibility by agreeing with her, but I don't think it has anything to do with age. It has to do with trying to follow Jesus and what Rachel describes as the church's true goals is very Christ-like.

    July 29, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  18. Paul

    I am a Evangelical Baptist and I am more of the Beatles generation than any other, yet, I find both good and laughable wrong in this article. First, if you have been asked to abandon science in your church, go to a different church. Truth is what Jesus is about, and if the truth contradicts the bible, then you read the bible wrong. So that part I agree with, to a point.

    What does how you feel about gays have to do with anything? It is a doctrine issue, not a feel good issue, as is most of the bible. God wants something, and we do it. If we do not, it is not a religion but rather a club. Lots of clubs. Join one.

    Personally, I don't see the issue with gays in the bible as many do. I read most if not all of those sections with an historical and contextual understanding that they are talking about cults that do not put the Lord our God first. They are NOT talking about what we take for gay today. When Jesus says love your neighbor as yourself, he means everyone, period. Even Islam. Even me. So if your church thinks that hate is good, find a different church.

    Understanding God's word is the key. Most of us don't invest the time and study necessary to do that. Me included. If any generation thinks that God is a feel good pill, they are repeating the error Israel during Christ's ministry. It's not about you. It's about him. If it is about him, it is about his people. Bring Glory to the Lord by loving everyone, as Jesus did.

    Find a church that does that, and reads the bible, and you are all set.

    July 29, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Merrillee

      No one needs a church to find Jesus.

      July 29, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Jake

      Religion and science are mutually exclusive. It doesn't matter which church you go to – you can't believe that it's possible to walk on water and pretend that concept is consistent with science. Through science, we know that no one ever walked on water. Your religion claims that someone did walk on water. Either you accept what we know (science) or you choose to deny what we know and believe something made up (religion). It's ridiculous to claim that religion and science can co-exist.

      July 29, 2013 at 11:54 am |
      • skytag

        Water was much thicker in Jesus' day, and it was more of a run than a walk. 😉

        July 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Nathaniel

        That is silly. We know that no one can walk on water. Yet Jesus did, and so did peter for a brief moment. That is what is so special about Christ. His miracles were amazing! We can believe science when it tells us that we can't walk on water, But we can also believe the Bible when it says that 2,000 years ago, someone did, and he was the Son of God. Just because Jesus is doing something that you can't understand doesn't make him a fake.

        July 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • Jake

          Like I said (and you just re-iterated) science and religion are mutually exclusive. You're saying that Jesus somehow broke the laws of science, which isn't how science works.

          July 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
        • ANCampbell

          @ Nathaniel, it's all a lie. Jesus did not walk on water...it's impossible. Regardless of the water being 'different' [as you claim], it was not a solid; therefore, it cannot be walked on. Sorry, but the fairytales really aren't that hard to disprove.

          July 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • i am

        Actually some of the worlds greatest Scientists believed the Bible. Galileo, Paschal, Sir Isaac Newton to name a few. They were way smarter than you guys lol! Look up List of Christian thinkers on wikipedia

        July 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Anon

          Yeah the same old apologist tactic that certain past scientists believed in the Abrahamic god.
          Is it hard for you to realize that religious belief was common during those eras?
          Remember it was either believe or else.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • forgotten

          Actually, those scientists, including Einstein, were referring to Nature when they mentioned god.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • JJ

      " if the truth contradicts the bible, then you read the bible wrong.". Since most of the bible contradicts reality and science then you have to constantly use all sorts of mental gymnastics just to get through a chapter.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Absolutely right, that's just special pleading.

        July 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Clarence

      Sir,

      July 29, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  19. Juliet

    My friends and I (25-30 something) were literally JUST discussing this over the weekend. You nailed it on the head.
    Another conclusion we came to was that we see a lot of forgiveness and love in the Christianity of our dreams, but when we go to church there is a lot of judgement and shame.
    Most of us want a church where everyone is truly accepted. EVERYONE. No matter their mistakes. No matter how long it's been since they stepped foot in a church. No matter what commandments they are breaking.
    When your goal is to worship Christ, you should be welcoming and full of compassion.

    July 29, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • hee hee

      Whether or not you realize it, you're responding to the pressure that civilized society is putting on your church. The same happened with apostasy, racism (in some churches), scientific beliefs, etc.

      So here's a question: do you want to be on the leading edge of the advancement of knowledge and ideals, or trailing behind? The world has a lot more to offer than your religion. If you don't believe me, start by learning everything you can about the history of your religion, since that interests you.

      July 29, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The problem is the idea of accepting EVERYONE is not a Biblical message. Many young people realize this and leave Christianity because it is rooted in Bronze age thinking.

      July 29, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • John

      Juliet,
      You and your friends are SO spot on and I feel for your search. I have found that acceptance in the Catholic church but it is not consistent from Parish to Parish. In fact, I argued with one of our Bishop's henchmen one Sunday over coffee and donuts when he asked my why I didn't agree with our Bishop's "devinely-inspired" direction to Catholics who vote for a pro-choice candidate to not bother coming to mass/Eucharist. I told him that if he was a parent he would understand God's fatherly nature – that no parent would ever deny their child entrance into their home – no matter what sin they commit – if they came seeking shelter/nourishment/love. We might keep an eye on them in order to help – but a parent would never deny love/acceptance to any child – why would God be any different? Fully agree – if any cleric is advocating excluding anyone – they are being led by the wrong spirits.

      July 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • michael

      The comment about "acceptance" is intriguing. For in all Churches, all ARE accepted initially. Even those that are cults churches, or cult-like churches.

      But the difference in a Christian Church is what happens to you AFTER you meet Christ. Even the wise men (of lore) changed their pattern of behavior after meeting the Christ child. The idea of any Christian Church is to bring you to Christ. What happens after you meet Christ is up to you. Will you change, or do you expect Christ to change because of you?

      And from the perspective of the Church, would not the church appear hypocritical if it changed to accommodate the prevailing winds of today?

      July 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        What if I don't believe Christ is a god? Not much acceptance and tolerance then right?

        July 29, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • michael

          If you don't believe it, what are you doing in a Christian church? (yes, the definition of Christian is the belief that Christ is God).

          God, in theory could be anything or anyone you want, but believing so won't make you a Christian.

          July 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I know atheists that attend church for cultural reasons.

          The point is religion, specifially Abrahamic religions, often creates an unnecessary divide among people because of the nature of requiring belief for salvation. It is a rediculous concept.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • michael

          Not for those that accept the concept.

          Just because you don't doesn't make you any more "correct", or "right" for choosing not to believe.

          July 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Oh I get it Michael,

          If I accept the "concept" of your clique than I am accepted and tolerated. Many organizations work the same way. The KKK, Aryan Brotherhood, ect. So I guess given that context they should be considered "tolerant" and "accepting".

          July 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
      • michael

        Blessed,

        Call it whatever you want, because in theory, they are the same. The different organizations just have very different principles and applications. If you want to join a cult, or a club that teaches racial superiority, knock your socks off.

        It IS all about choice. If you're not buying the message, so be it. But just because you don't buy the message, doesn't mean that the message is wrong. Or that others are wrong for choosing what they wish to believe. Whether that be a cult or racially motivated organizations.

        I'm sorry that you don't feel welcome. But there are parameters that all Churches must adhere to. That goes back to the article's reference of substance. For if a Church has no defined parameters, they have no substance, and thus we're back to square one.

        Forgive me for making an assumption here, but for someone who appears to have put so much effort into being accepted, you sure are making a big stink about the "club" that you appear to want to join. I get the distinct impression that you want the "club" to bend to your manner of thinking, rather than the other way around. And with any religion, with exception of maybe your own, that's just not how it works.

        July 29, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Michael,

          First, feel free to be a part of any club you choose, but if the claim is made that that club is univerally tolerant and accepting of all people as long as you agree with their premise I am going to call BS on you. They are not. It is the same garbage as telling me your god loves everyone unconditionally, "under certian conditions", it is oxymoronic. My point is Christianity is a devisive club because of its concept of "there is no salvation without belief". It is an immoral premise, and it divides people unnecessarily....which leads into my next point.

          Beliefs are NOT choices. I can't suddenly decide Christianity is true anymore than you can suddenly decide Hinduism is true. People are given a claim and then evaluate the evidence of the claim, and THEN accept the claim as true, reject it as false or put it in an unknown catagory for lack of evidence. Any god that rewards and punishes belief, EVEN if it did give undeniable evidence, is an immoral monster which wouldn't deserve worship.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
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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.