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. Christian

    I love how you basically say "choose sides, you can't exist in both the world and heaven" in one breath and in the next speak of a house divided. You are the one creating the division. Most millennials want a closer unification, not division. That's your schtick man.

    July 27, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • CatLover

      Good day to you, Christian (is that your name, or a descriptor?) ... It seems to me that you are saying that if only Evans, and those of her ilk, would just shut up and accept the church as it stands, there wouldn't be any problem, any division. Have I got that right? Christianity today – in the US; I think the mileage varies in much of the rest of the world – is largely driven by the Christian Right; they are the ones who seem to make up most of the congregations. Or, they are the most vocal, and do the controlling of how Christianity is presented and practiced. This is fine if you believe that God is a Republican, and Jesus should be chairman of the RNC; if you believe in a modern version of Manifest Destiny; if you think cherry picking verses from Leviticus in order to spew hate in Jesus' name is the way it ought to be; if you are willing to check your mind at the door and form your view of the world based literally (and selectively literally at that) upon the scribblings of Neolithic patriarchs. If rejecting that and more is 'creating a division' then count me in as one of those pot-stirrers. Though in truth I don't stir the churchly pot .. I just ignore the church. Like so many others. Peace and grace to you.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Christian

        Actually not. That was a reply to a comment at the bottom of page 2 that this cr@ppy forum code severed and made it's own comment for whatever reason. You can see the context on page 2.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  2. OpenMind

    We Millennials have looked at your religion and found it lacking. We have looked at your God and found him lacking, we want a religion that yes includes all. A God that is compassionate enough to look past someones genetics and into the depths of their soul to truly know if they are a decent human or not. Yes we no longer want your archaic hate filled bible, or your fear inducing God, we choose to look for something better in our God if we choose to believe in God. We choose a God that excepts everyone, a God that isn't afraid of knowledge and science. To bash us as "whiny babies" for this just shows us even more firmly, that we in fact have chosen the correct path for our generation. We Millennials can no longer stand the backward, stuck in the mud, nature of the generations that have come before us in this matter.

    Now churches have two paths in front of them, evolve to a more open less hateful organization that supports this mindset or continue down their path and fade into the history they so dearly are clinging on to. I for one hope for a little evolution is on our way because I think there is a place for churches in our future.

    This coming from a non church going millennial who doesn't believe in god.

    July 27, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      Quantum Mechanics and Relativity require a sentient being outside the universe to make the universe real, but perhaps you mean the outdated science peddled by the atheist trolls. Creationist science is the basis of all our modern technology, so don't look to science as a means to disprove the creator.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • What is going on? FREEDOM

        Tarver you are obviously not a scientist and you obviously have never spoken to a real scientists on that matter. I suggest you do before posting something that is such a lie.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • larrylivingston

          Just let him speak! It's people like him who will eventually convince everyone that only the weak-minded believe in gods. LOL. Just read his post! I wish there were more christians like him....less work for us.

          July 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • bratex1218

        Does a sentient being outside the universe require another sentient being outside of that reality to make him/her /it real? And does sentient being #2 require a sentient being #3 outside of #2's sphere to make them real? Where does that leave sentient being #3 . . . looking to a sentient being number 4 surely. How many numbers to we have to continue with such a charade?

        July 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • amon

        LOL why because you say so or you just really want to?

        July 28, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • tewence

      please don't hear any disrespect in this. i'm afraid you (like too many others) have been misled about Christianity. it is completely inclusive and full of love for all. unfortunately, in moments of frustration or self-righteousness, sometimes we Christians can get quite legalistic and it's completely understandable why it would turn people off from it when all they hear are the "rules." the basis of what we believe turns rules on their head(s), so to speak.

      of course, whether or not one chooses to believe it is a different matter, but it is actually the loving and inclusive religion that people say it is. best of luck to you! 🙂

      July 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • amon

        so what about hell?

        July 28, 2013 at 7:50 am |
      • larrylivingston

        LOL you are one of those christians who attempts to change the religion to make it appear less objectionable. Good luck with that.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • tewence

          thank you for your response. i was merely stating the central message of Christianity, which is found in the love of Christ...something that all people have access to no matter what. i'm sorry to have offended you with this.

          August 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Bill Gilman

      Openmind .... Christians believe that God DOES in fact look past genetics and into someone's soul. And Christianity welcome (GASP) everyone. We do not exclude. The belief that we shut our doors to gays and lesbians etc. is fiction.
      And which part of Christianity do you have trouble with? Love? Compassion? Mercy? Grace? Forgivenss? Inclusiveness? These are the things taught by Jesus and these are the things we Christians believe.
      Stop making assumptions about things you know nothing about.

      July 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Gerald Goodfriend

      I wish you peace and truth. But you said you don't believe in God, but you believe there is a place for church in the future? What sort of Church do you propose that doesn't believe in God? You have looked at our churches and our religion and reject it? You see, religion and church are a result of something special happening inside you. Faith is what happens when Christ comes into your life. When you open your heart and your mind to God filling that emptiness inside. When it happens, you know and there's no mistake. There's no doubt and you find peace. That is what is missing. You have to put down your iPad and iPod long enough for that still small voice to speak inside and move you like you've never been moved before. Yes, it sounds illogical, but that's the thing it doesn't match up with science and it doesn't make sense, neither does this earth and the way it operates. I wish you peace and truth.

      July 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • BEaUU

      If you want that you might want to check out your local Unitarian church. uua.org

      July 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • OpenMindwithYou

      Dear Open Mind, and I say this in an endearing way. Keep searching, questioning and learning, the truth is out there for you and everyone to discover. There are many paths but only one way to the truth of universal laws and love. You will discover this on your journey. We are all searching for guidance and Truth within science and faith, yes faith! Faith in Love as the most important lesson to learn. Learn to love one another, care for and lift one another up to higher ideals. I believe you have heard this before?? This is the basis for which we all live for, love, acceptance and equality..someday. When we stop blaming, hating, judging others do we grow in LOVE. When we look inside our hearts and think, all we want in this life and forever more is to be loved and to love. Keep your open mind and grow. You are doing so well. I must commend others that have commented on corrupt churches and greed which comes in many forms. When you have the opportunity, lift your brothers and sister out of this environment. Take their blinders off and love them and accept their wanting to belong, they were mislead. Some people comment that they do not believe in God. God is the ultimate expression of LOVE in the purest sense. That is why we search and ask many questions. We grave love and truth! Some of us still ask what is truth? That is the spark of light that encourages us to move forward !! Love to all on your journey.

      July 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • santijose

      Faith should be cosmic. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma, and theology.

      July 28, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Not InOurImage

      it seems that many of us want to create a God in our image, we seem to say, "if I was god, I would do it this way" well, we are not God and just because our human nature doesn't like some of Gods attributes. Who are we to decide how God should be?
      I hear "old fashion", "not with the times", not cool etc. God does not change, He is always the same. Lets assume for just a moment that He is who He says He is, shouldn't we then obey Him? What we can't do is make up a god to fit our human idea of what he should be. If we did that, there would be thousands, millions of different gods. "Christianity , if not true, is of no importance.Christianity, if true, is of infinite importance". He is not a fad, a movie of the week, He is God and if we ever even partially grasp His greatness,we would fall prostate and beg for His mercy and forgiveness.

      October 29, 2013 at 1:59 am |
      • lionfou

        Fallacy: that the Bible is a consistently accurate portrait of God.

        Very very good stuff in the Bible. AND it glorifies the mass slaughter of babies in at least 3 places (Genesis, Samuel and Ezekiel). Hardly a model for civilized behaviour.

        People used the Bible to justify slavery ("Slaves be subservient to your masters") and the oppression of women ("Wives be subservient to your husbands") and many other crimes.

        Inside US is God ("The light which enlightens everyone who comes into the world"–John 1). The purpose of scripture is to awaken that "son of God" in US.

        Scripture is ink on paper, a translation of a translation of a third-hand account, at least 30 years after the fact (Mark, the earliest gospel). It's the light in you that matters, the "peace that passes understanding".

        If scripture doesn't awaken that light, it is worse than useless. People baptized Christian have slaughtered more people than all other religions, plus atheists, combined.

        "By their fruits you will know them."

        October 29, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  3. SickofStupid

    I love hearing all the intellectual elite hypercritical drivel from atheists and how their superior thought has brought them to a new truth to think for themselves. In that same breath of superiority they don't use this same critical critique towards all the things they hold their faith in; government, medicine, education, science, media and themselves. They just take it as fact...in blind faith. It is the hypocrisy they scream about at an obscene level and if they were so open minded, they'd welcome a world of all kinds of different thought.

    It’s pretty shallow and funny to think a finite mind is superior to things they cannot comprehend and they're offended otherwise.

    July 27, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      That is a definite reversal toward you there buckshot.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Ninechars

      At least we don't pretend to know all the answers.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • DwayneO

        Can't tell it from the way you talk.

        July 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • Gerald Goodfriend

        This sort of reply doesn't help. Both sides need to drop the insults and talk, but each side (as we have learned from political types) only attempt to talk, rather than listen. Seek first to understand, then be understood. Stephen Covey.

        July 27, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
      • Joe E.

        If you admit you don't know all the answers then how can you be so sure that we're wrong?

        July 30, 2013 at 3:56 am |
    • Glisten

      1 Corinthians 13: 1-3. Don't forget love. If we are Believers remember engaging in these conversations requires kindness and gentleness and love. It's easy for our love to grow cold when attacked so much. God's kindness leads people to where they need to be. I too have to ensure my heart is not hardened.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • larrylivingston

      "intellectual elite"...well at least you admit that we are the elite. And we quite agree. We ARE the intellectual elite, because we choose to use our intellect. It's EVER so nice...won't you join us?

      July 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • santijose

      It's just amazing how much energy goes into hate. JC would NOT been proud of these people who now say they speak for him. They are so far off the mark of his preaching.

      July 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Burzghash

      It's pretty shallow and funny to think that, in your infinite unknowingness, that you can simply say "A wizard did it" conclusively, and expect to be taken seriously.

      The real answer? Is to say "I don't know." That's the danger of religion, and theists. They pretend to know things they don't. They pretend that their claim is factual, when they really have no idea. Could there be a god? Sure. There could also be a psychic were-walrus at the center of pluto. In the absence of any evidence to substantiate that claim however, just as there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER to implicate a divine creator, I can't be bothered to place any faith in the notion.

      Be mature. Be intelligent. Admit "you don't know", and you don't have all the answers.

      July 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • Will

        I admit we don't have all the answers and we are not necessarily going to have them either. Regardless, God has left evidence for us but in our own arrogance we refuse to see it. The Bible states that creation itself is a witness for God. Science and philosophy used to try and figure out how God created and did things and now it totally denies Him. Science and belief in God do not have to be at odds and it is okay to ask the hard questions. You may not like some of the answers and we don't have every answer but enough evidence is there for you to start. If you want more, you will truly have to seek Jesus out for the rest of the evidence and it will be revealed to you if you do not turn away from Him. It will truly have to be a heart change and until that time, belief in God will truly be all foolishness to you and no further explanation will ever make sense to you.

        September 27, 2013 at 9:13 am |
        • Seth

          Will, I've done my due diligence when it comes to training in science. It's not that science seeks to disprove a literal interpretation of Genesis, it simply does, and terrifically so. Perhaps God does exist, but there was no worldwide flood or Noah's Ark. The observations we make are simply not consistent with such an account, period.

          September 27, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Graham Krueger

      The thing with science, medicine, education, and government, et al is they can always be improved, refined and modified as we learn more. To be an Atheist is (for me anyway) to put whatever hope one has into the progress of humanity, that we are animal organisms capable of civilization, growth and learning. I look at people, and I see no god- just a potential vector for civilization's advance or retreat, for decency or callousness, but above all for learning and change. I understand the desire to believe in a god, but I just can't see the need for it in any understanding of the world and the chances provided by people. It can't be proved, and seems irrational. Why should we base our actions on the improbable and baseless?

      October 31, 2013 at 3:11 am |
  4. Truth

    I think most people mistake the church as God. The church is just a gathering of imperfect people in an imperfect world. If you believe the church is to be perfect and act perfectly all the time, then yes, you will be disappointed.

    I guess ultimately, if there is no God and is no purpose to this life of mine outside of being a link in a pointless endless chain of evolution then why should I care about any issues around me. Why even post on these blogs and try to support your non-christian views? Why waste time here instead of indulging your desires. Changing peoples mind about Christianity is a waste of your time as Christianity doesn't matter, right?

    July 27, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • dave

      ok doug wilson –can you come up with something original?

      July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • DwayneO

        Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky made the obvious connection between atheism and nihilism a long time ago. What's taking you so long?

        July 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Bill Gilman

      well said truth ....

      July 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Graham Krueger

      We can care about others out of some respect for the ability of each to contribute something to others, to create, enjoy, heal and learn. That on some level makes human beings worth liking. And I don't think any of us can pretend Christianity doesn't matter- as a social movement it's been tremendously significant with many consequences, some good some bad. Myself and my fellow Atheists just see the flaws in its assumptions and the fallacy of its system of magic, and don't think it's worth perpetuating a factual error's control over our society to facilitate some tradition. Judge everything objectively

      October 31, 2013 at 3:15 am |
  5. Lagos

    Wow, a CNN article NOT bashing millennial as lazy, stupid, mooching, etc etc etc?

    Oh, that's why. Carry on.

    July 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • What is going on? FREEDOM

      You seem to be ignorant of who these people are apparently. Seems you are just here to make a fool out of yourself, because Fox News doesn't let you talk on their site any more.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  6. DCBill

    This is a very good story. What I am picking up onis get back to basics and run from va helical sensationalism. This is exactly why I converted to Roman Catholocism. In case anyone is interested I am 68 (soon to be 69) years old and committed to this conversion in 2005 (age 61).

    July 27, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  7. Glisten

    Rachel, I appreciate your passion, and it's obvious you are super intelligent. I admire your statement, "We long for Jesus." Me too!

    Not all church leadership is this out of touch. I am so fortunate to be a member of a modern church that is not consumer driven, no gimmicks. Those churches are indeed hard to find. I drive 40 minutes each way to my church in a different city despite having tons of churches on every corner where I live.

    Church is just one component of my spiritual walk. I know some in previous comments and comments to come totally discredit the Bible, but it is my personal time with God in between church services which makes my faith stronger. I don't rely on one experience a week to ground me. Being in a small group of people in the midst of the challenges of their Christian walk is so encouraging too.

    I find an interesting contrast in your thoughtful piece, you long for high tradition (generally more conservative in teachings and services) but also want the freedom of more liberal theology. The Bible really is the guide map God left us. When I read Romans 12:2 and so many other scriptures it challenges me to not conform to this world, but be transformed by thinking like and following God. 2 Timothy 2:4 talks about not getting caught up in civilian or worldly affairs. And Jesus wasn't political, His actions and words (lack of words) show He didn't come to overthrow Rome. When Jesus had to pay the temple tax he sent Peter (a skilled fisherman) down to get a gold coin out of the mouth of a fish. He hated the highway robbery going on with paying for sacrifices in the temple. Jesus admonished His followers to not become transfixed on clothes and food. (Matthew 6:25-34). Basically everything He said went against the grain of culture then and today.

    Caring for the environment... important. Peacemaking... called to do it. Loving all people, especially ones that chose differently than ourselves... commanded to do it. And yet those areas of focus aren't the Gospel, Jesus generously being the cure for our sinfulness so we can approach God. There is a temptation to make social causes as important or more important than the catalyst that drives all those things. The risk is to conform God to our image and will (even our admirable causes) instead of becoming more like the humble Christ obedient even unto death. Matthew 28:19 says "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Nothing about environmental causes, social justice. A really deep examination of the Old and New Testaments reveal those things are blessed when our relationship with God is obedient and vibrant.

    A lifestyle that conforms to understand and live out the Bible is very, very challenging especially in a postmodern, relativistic culture. The Bible itself indicates obedience is impossible without help from God. Frankly there are parts we won't understand this side of Heaven. However there are parts that are clear, but if we are honest we want to ignore, re-configure, or just outright rebel against them because in our culture self is king.

    All the modern issues about Christianity, whether you hate it, embrace it or are struggling through it come down to what we do with our self will. And I spent many years living for myself, being my own god and it brought me to severe despair, discontentment and near physical death.

    My comments aren't meant as a debate, but as an encouragement to devout skeptic, to the God hater, someone who feels hopeless, those weary with modern, empty church religion. At first I secretly sought the Lord and was completely transformed and amazed. I hope you won't hate me for wanting no less joy for everyone else.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • MagicPanties

      Skeptics are not "god haters".
      That's like saying adults hate Santa Claus.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Glisten

        Magic, I apologize. You are right. Skeptics are not necessarily Christian haters. I am so used to being attacked for my beliefs that I made a blanket statement that I regret.

        Before I became a Christian I was a skeptic too. It was amazing the things God did to challenge my skepticism. For instance as a lead guitarist and lead singer in several bar bands He put a successful guitarist in my life who I thought was a "Jesus Freak" and it challenged so many of my preconceptions. He reached me very personally in many ways.

        Sorry again.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Lagos

      Cheers on a fantastic post. I was raised Catholic, still go to church semi0regularly but identify as an independent Christian

      July 27, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Jim

      Who is looking for jesus? He never existed , sorry

      July 27, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • Glisten

        Jim, I was convinced of that too. Trust me, I wasn't looking for Him either. I was given a gift of being completely humbled by my destructive lifestyle and strong self will. I dug a hole so deep for myself and realized I would keep digging it without intervention. It was only then when I had one little thought, "What if, just what if God could be real?" That one question and asking God to prove Himself to me completely transformed my life.

        If I truly believe what I do I would be a hypocrite not to reach out in love to others, even those who vehemently disagree.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:28 am |
      • Graham Krueger

        As I understand the historical record, it seems pretty clear that some political and religious leader emerged out of Judea, went by the name Jeshua, and advocated a lot of ideals of morality, some of which are pretty helpful that offended the local authorities and was killed.

        Any divinity there? No, but some pretty interesting, if fragmented history. Denying that some of these myths sprang from actual people at the time kind of undercuts our argument. To the best of our knowledge, the man existed. We can't be very good Atheists if we're not making our decision based on the best information available, can we?

        October 31, 2013 at 3:19 am |
    • David Cook

      All I can say is....WOW! well said!!

      July 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • larrylivingston

      "A lifestyle that conforms to understand and live out the Bible is very, very challenging especially in a postmodern, relativistic culture. " ...The Taliban would likely agree. It is very hard to remain ignorant while everyone else is moving on with life.

      July 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  8. John P. Tarver

    The Jesus the Church sells now takes 31/2 years to do what Jesus did in 70 weeks. Seventy week Jesus has power, as he is the Logos. (Word) Three and a half year Jesus ls just a man. There is the additional weight of the atheist nut jobs like those at Wiki, who deny relativity, but science has not been in conflict with the bible since 1919.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • MagicPanties

      Wow, I'll have some of whatever John P. Tarver is smoking.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • John P. Tarver

        Purple Jesus is the best, although Mr. Nice is very good.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Austin

      John is referring to Jehovah, Our Lord who provides faith too.

      He walked through the pit with Abraham. He came anbd intervened in our lives. and The Holy Spirit bears the truth, supernaturally.

      I have personal evidence and proof of this.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • Dude

        Really? I guess that ends the discussion! Is your evidence a piece of toast that looks like Jesus? Share your drugs.

        July 29, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  9. James Whedbee

    Thank you, Rachel, for saying it so well. Peace be with you.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  10. lkft

    Since the days Christ walked the earth, Christianity has and always will be confrontational. There is no room for compromise. We live in a world that is hostile towards Christianity and rightly so...they are at war w/each other. There is more to life than this world but the non-believer will never have any of it. They compare Christ to "Puff the Magic Dragon"and worse.

    Having said that the writer of this article is spot-on. The newer generations are growing toward a tendency of gnosticism. I find it truly sad. I have a young daughter that has been in the church even as an infant and taught by both the church and ourselves to believe in God and Jesus Christ but ultimately it has to come from within her heart. I can not force my beliefs on her no matter how much I want to, all I can do is plant the seed and pray it finds fertile soil in which to flourish.

    I myself do not hold hostile feelings toward the GLBT community. I truly believe that they all can come to Christ and find salvation as long as they turn away from their sins. Just like an alcoholic can give up booze and live a sober life so can the GLBT if they truly want to seek Christ and His salvation but you simply can't have it both ways.

    Being a Christian is the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm constantly at war between my flesh and my spirit. I can not do it alone, I need Christ and His Holy Spirit to help me and they do. I know the atheists and agnostics will flame me but you know what, that's the way it's supposed to work. That's what happened to Christ and of course I should expect the same for myself The difference is that I will not hurl insults or question others beliefs b/c Christ would never have done that. Christ would look for the weak, sick, poor, needy, tired, hungry, thirsty and offer them food/drink/strength/healing/spiritual riches so I will do the same. God bless!

    July 27, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • What?

      Most people don't care that you are a Christian, get over yourself.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:03 am |
      • larrylivingston

        LOL...so true! The poor poor Christian. Weight of the world on his shoulders. Suffering with all that profound knowledge that the modern world just doesn't understand. Persecuted by no longer being allowed to persecute others. makes me wanna vomit.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • Charlie

        I care, and he is right, unfortunately you just can't see it, your only comeback is to be sarcastic.

        October 18, 2013 at 3:33 am |
    • Tyler

      "I myself do not hold hostile feelings toward the GLBT community. I truly believe that they all can come to Christ and find salvation as long as they turn away from their sins. Just like an alcoholic can give up booze and live a sober life so can the GLBT if they truly want to seek Christ and His salvation but you simply can't have it both ways."

      So basically you are an idiot

      July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • larrylivingston

        LOL. Gotta love that passive-aggressive christian style! "All you gotta do for us to accept you is to be a completely different person!" . "We don't hate YOU, we just hate everything ABOUT you!" That's some "love" that this planet can easily live without.

        July 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • dave

      ik–there are plenty of alcoholics who don't have a problem–it's people who can't handle alcohol who have problems–they may be people who drink all the time or once a month--being a alcoholic is not a "sin"-i know i know,"but paul said ect ect" well who died and made him God?

      July 27, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • joe

      @ lkft....as it was over 2000 years ago, so it is today.....God Bless you.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • dave

        as it will be for another 20,000 years

        July 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      " I truly believe that they all can come to Christ and find salvation as long as they turn away from their sins. Just like an alcoholic can give up booze and live a sober life so can the GLBT if they truly want to seek Christ and His salvation but you simply can't have it both ways."

      Not even close to the same thing. Drinking is a choice and in most cases if it has become problematic it is solvable. Being LGBT is not a choice (regardless of what the 2000 year old book states, science says different and it is what science states that matters in the real world), there is no cure for it and there are plenty of people who are LGBT that are better christians than you could ever wish to be. You can be a bigot if you wish and you wish be condemned for it.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Austin

        no being gay is not a seperate race TP, still a human with actions. if you want to talk about diseases go right ahead.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:24 am |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        Austin: You idiot. I said it was natural, not a separate race! Your belief teaches that being LGBT is a sin and your belief is wrong. How are your dead cats???

        July 27, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • Gavin Ford

        Yes, truth DOES prevail. Which is the reason why your fear-based religion is dying out.

        July 27, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • larrylivingston

        Let's assume for a moment that being LGBT is a choice....so what if it is? Even if it were a choice there's nothing wrong with it. It's only if an action brings harm to yourself or others that it becomes a problem. And regardless of all that....there is no god to judge that or any other behavior. Our life on this planet is 100% up to us, whether good or evil. Perhaps the Christians know, down deep somewhere, that there is no cosmic judge, and that's why they feel the need to judge others. Christians attempt to act out the wrath of their imaginary sky-tyrant, since, when being honest with themselves, they realise the gods are powerless.

        July 28, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Kim

      Religions have to always been controversial toward each other. Look at how Hinduism incorporated different gods from different belief systems. I think what you mean to say is a lot of sects of Christianity make no room for compromise. Obviously the Catholic Church compromised with accepting evolution as fact since it is irrefutable. The new pope stated atheists could go to heaven, contrary to most Christians telling us we will burn in hell for all eternity simply for using critical thinking.

      What world do you live in that is hostile toward Christianity? Christianity is one of the most prevalent religions in the world. In the U.S. your god is in our pledge, on our money, in every political speech. Churches are everywhere. Your strict morals keep people from contraceptives, you create hateful bullies that make the non-religious, LGBTQ, and those of different religions fearful for their lives. Or bully them till they take their own lives. You attempt to keep women from having their own say about their bodies... The list goes on.

      Atheists compare what we perceive as fantasy to other fantasies so you can understand our view point. To us, there's just as much proof for unicorns as there is god. We are not saying god is a unicorn, only that the amount of evidence is equal for the existence of both.

      I'm happy your daughter learned to think for herself and challenge what she had been brainwashed with her entire live. Bravo to her.

      Being a Christian is the hardest thing you've ever done? Try being an atheist in the Bible Belt. Or a Muslim in the U.S. or gay or transgender. It's getting quite ridiculous how Christians believe they are being persecuted while they are the ones prosecuting others, many times in ignorance.

      Also, Christ -did- challenge Judaism, at least with your stories. That's why a new religion was formed. So all he did was question beliefs, so your point is invalid. Perhaps you should focus on the non-judging part of your religion and actually adhere to it. Saying being gay is a disease is very judgmental no matter if you have "hostile feelings."

      July 27, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Ryan Snuffer

      You don't turn from your sins in order to come to Christ. It is the other way around. We cannot turn from our sins on our own. Perhaps you were just misunderstanding the concept of repentance. Or perhaps you just worded it wrong. I don't mean to be hard on you. I appreciated a lot of what you said. But there is an important distinction. We come to Christ by faith in what he has done, not with self assurance of our own turning from sin.

      July 27, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Ella

      "We live in a world that is hostile towards Christianity"...ah, yes, the persecution complex of Christians. Your whining is getting rather old. You're doing fine, you still have the vast majority of Americans on your side as professing Christians, and those of us protesting the enforcement of your religious beliefs through legislation are hardly persecuting you. Get over yourself – if either group is being persecuted here it's the atheists, we who have never had so much as one president from our ranks.

      August 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
      • photografr7

        Ella, if you were at a party and you didn't like how you were being treated, the logical decision would be to leave the party. Well, this is a world-wide party, so I am not suggesting you leave the world. Ok, I am.

        August 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Graham Krueger

      The problem with your attempted "forgiveness" of LGBT folks is the insistence that a harmless behavior is wrong. Looking at society from a modern perspective, there seems to be very little reason not to maximize human happiness, as long as it hurts no one. Until this is accepted, the Abrahamic religions are going to have an increasingly difficult time, as fewer an fewer people will accept arbitrary rules based on irrational principles.

      October 31, 2013 at 3:23 am |
      • lionfou

        The world is not hostile to Christianity. The "Christians" don't practice Christianity. Love your enemies? Do good those who hate you? Judge not? Forget it. The evangelicals (white) have consistently supported greed and violence and bigotry all over the world.

        Why do white evangelicals and black evangelicals consistently vote 90% for opposite parties? Hint: it ain't religion.

        Sin? JC, Paul and John made it very clear that the ONLY sin is not loving your neighbor. The rest of it–anti-gay stuff etc.–is pure BS and in no way Christian.

        October 31, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  11. MBW

    Want to grow the church again. Get the church out of politics. The church cannot be its own political party if it wants to survive. God is bigger than domestic US political debates.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      That sort of political removal would destroy the Democratic Party's ability to keep blacks on the plantation, don't expect any change like that any time soon.

      July 27, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • What is going on? FREEDOM

        Tarver what in the world are you talking about? First off this statement makes no sense. Second off how does it relate to anything the individual above stated. Third, if you studied history, you would realize that the South during that time period are still the same group of people that are Republicans today.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • John P. Tarver

          As Malcolm X (R) predicted, the white liberals bought off a few black preachers and that was the end of the black civil rights movement.

          July 27, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • What is going on? FREEDOM

          Tarver have you ever studied the Reconstruction Era and the years after it in the South? I suggest you do before spouting off claims like this. It is quite obvious you are a Republican with a warped mind

          July 27, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • M84

          Tarver isn't a Republican, he just forgot to take his meds today. He also he isn't aware of the Civil War or Abraham Lincoln.

          July 28, 2013 at 11:50 am |
        • Joe E.

          The Democrats were the ones who were fighting for slavery during the Civil War, which is really no different than today if you think about it.

          July 30, 2013 at 4:02 am |
    • Glisten


      July 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • Glisten

        My absolutely was to MBW's comment not the followup about the Democratic Party. Its too expedient and convenient to make God take sides in political debates. Take the poor, God cared for them, was concerned about them. He commanded corners of fields be left unharvested for them to get food. So we see this perfect balance of care for the poor but not just giving the poor a handout with not work on their part. Government is too busy fighting each other than praying or meditating on what that balance can look like.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  12. bob

    the author wrote:

    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.

    If you have to wrap religion up in modern wrappings then there is something wrong in the message. I see evangelicals as angry old white guys, hating everything not them. isn't that what Islamic extremist think too?

    July 27, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  13. MBW

    Too many Christians concern themselves with the man-made traditions associated with Christianity rather than with the underlying message.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  14. MagicPanties

    The sea change is the internet.

    When anyone can find a wealth of information that shows clearly and unambiguously that organized religion is based on fairy tales, well... surprise, surprise, people stop believing.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      "If they charge you they are fake Christians", Paul of Tarsus.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  15. us_1776

    The Sky Fairy does not exist.

    Get over it.


    July 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • joe

      I will pray for you.......

      July 27, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  16. Nathan

    Religions are cults, plain and simple. I can be close to God, pray, and follow the 10 commandments. I do not need religion to make me feel better about my relationship with God.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Gerald Goodfriend

      There are some religious faiths or denominations that are cult like or maybe even cults. There are a good number that are not. To say all are cults is extreme. To say you can be a Christian without a church or denomination is true. You would have a better chance at living a full life in Christ though with fellow brothers and sisters to walk with you in fellowship. A church body is for strength and accountability and to join together to help others come to Christ. I love you and wish you the best in your walk. I have been turned away by some churches I have attended, but in the end I realized it was the people within that church that were the problem, not the idea of church. Men and Women are not perfect. We have to tap into our God-given discernment ability to access who are the people we should be in arms with to serve our Christ.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  17. Nathan

    "We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against."


    July 27, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Maximum bob

      Spot on with that!

      July 27, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  18. lol??

    Actually now is a very good time to get out of the fully leavened gubmint churches. Get your name off the membership rolls. Coming up during the next "crisis", it'll be open season on the Christians. Wake up! There is a cycle of wickedness if you haven't noticed. The socies went after Jacob in WWII. They won't make that mistake again and have the bride, Israel, in sight.

    1)white horse-Bush I
    2)red horse-Clinton
    3)black horse-Bush II
    4)pale horse-Obama..

    July 27, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Nathan


      July 27, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • MagicPanties

      Misplaced my tinfoil hat. May I borrow yours?

      July 27, 2013 at 9:47 am |
      • John P. Tarver

        I put you lice infested tin foil hat in the dumpster.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • lol??

        Tin foils have become obsolete. Can't keep up with the times??

        July 27, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • WOW

      LOL... that actually did make me LOL.. thanks!

      July 29, 2013 at 12:44 am |
  19. Bucko

    I was sitting in church when I was about, maybe, seven or eight. I bean thinking, "wow, this is really a load of crap". That was about it for me. Confirmed atheist by the time I was in my teens.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Thinking Man

      I had the same experience as Bucko at age 10: " If this God is so great, would he really damn to hell anyone who does not believe in Jesus? What about all the people around the world who think their religion is the way?" After those thoughts at age 10, my conservative Methodist parents eventually became convinced of the same thing. I know the difference between right and wrong and do not need religion to tell me. When I die there will be nothing else, which as I see it is better than living forever. I feel so bad that people waste their time hating other people who do not believe as they do about religion.

      July 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  20. DJ

    The reason people of all denominations are fleeing the church is because the church no longer teaches what the Bible teaches. Just as the religious leaders in Jesus day, "Christian" religious leaders in general are hypocritical, greedy and concerned about politics. Jesus refused to get involved in politics. When they tried to make him king, he ran away. Jesus said all who live by the sword, die by the sword, but the churches are the first ones lining up to support whatever war comes along, no matter the cause. They worship Jesus as God rather than worshiping the God Jesus himself worshipped. Millenials, and all people, should spend less time worrying about being entertained or finding a more traditional ritual (Catholic church not pretentious?????) and should instead be seeking what the REAL TRUTH is about God in the Bible is.

    July 27, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • MagicPanties

      and you, DJ, somehow lay claim to knowing the REAL TRUTH, eh?
      How do you pick and choose what to take literally and what is parable or fable?

      The sad truth is that it is ALL fable.
      Spend less time obsessed with an ancient fairy tale and more time on reality.
      These churches you rail against are the ones that created your silly book, so get a clue.

      July 27, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • Mike

        Your handle kind of says it all, doesn't it.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • John P. Tarver

          Panties is an anti-Mormon troll.

          July 27, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Mike

      Well said. Get ready for all the backlash. What these millenials are trying to do is live life with one foot in the world and one foot near God. The bible teaches we are to be of the world not in the world. With one foot in each place, the adage of a house divided against itself will not stand. Fairy tales, huh? One of those fairy tales has a very high temperature eternally.

      July 27, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • Christian

        I love how you basically say "choose sides, you can't exist in both the world and heaven

        July 27, 2013 at 10:03 am |
      • Christian

        I love how you basically say "choose sides, you can't exist in both the world and heaven" in one breath and in the next speak of a house divided. You are the one creating the division. Most millennials want a closer unification, not division. That's your schtick man.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • What?

        Mike. Did you know that when you are dead you don't have a body, which means you don't have a nervous system. That means if even Hell was real, and it was very hot, you wouldn't feel it.

        July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • Gerald Goodfriend

          What? How do you know what we will be after death? How do you know there isn't a soul? How do you know if we will feel or if there is a heaven or hell? The truth we don't know, that's is where faith and belief is put into action. I believe in life after death. I believe there is a heaven and hell. As my father once said, "so if I live a life of Christ the best I can and I'm a good person and there is no heaven and hell, at least I lived a good life and contributed to life on earth while I was here. No regrets. If I choose to life a life of mostly sin and for myself as if there was not afterlife and I'm wrong, well I don't really want to think about that. There is also the point of conversion where you know you have connected to something beyond yourself. That is beyond a body of Christ we call a church or denomination. The body of Christ, or a church is for fellowship and growth and living beyond ourselves. A church that isn't doing that is a place I don't want to be. I want a church that accepts all walks of life, but does have a standard of living that is more than a free for all and do what feels good. There is a place for balance.

          July 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • Damocles


          Good grief. You jump all over What? for saying what he or she thinks and then proceed to say what you think as if it's all true.

          You can be a good person without believing in a deity. How hard is that to understand? Do the best you can, help out when you can, try to bring no harm to people. It isn't rocket science.

          You can connect yourself to something larger, it's called humanity.

          July 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
        • Robosnail

          Gerald the burden of proof is on you. If i told you that i had a unicorn that only i could see, you would demand evidence before you believed me. How is the afterlife any different? I don't believe in the after life for the same reason i don't believe in fairy tales, a lack of evidence.

          August 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • photografr7

          Suppose you are both wrong: the atheist is good in his heart because he was brought up right and lived in a nice neighborhood. The theist is good because he reads the Bible and does it says because God knows good from evil and without God you'd be a raving mass-murdered. If you are both wrong, who's the biggest damn fool?

          August 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • Sokesky

        Hon, if you have a retirement plan, own a car or a house, wear designer clothing, have a college plan for your kids, a savings or checking account...you have a foot in this world. Didn't the Bible say something about the mote in one's own eye?

        July 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Ella

      The REAL TRUTH is that the God of the Bible is a psychopath. Have you read your Old Testament, DJ?

      August 3, 2013 at 5:29 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.