Generation Y: Shedding our religion

In a recent report by National Public Radio, the Pew Research Center revealed that nearly 20 percent of American adults claim they don't identify with any religion.

Affectionately dubbed "nones," the number of these adults who eschew organized religion has increased exponentially over the last 10 years.

Even better, the most staggering remark in the article is about our generation: "One third of Americans under 30 have no religious affiliation."

A third of our generation in America are "nones."

I would be lying if I told you I wasn't giddy when I heard this news. The worst negative feeling I could muster up was melancholy.

This nation is built around our freedoms. It's a notion that we seem to be "battling" for lately, especially regarding gun laws and censorship. I love, support and respect all of our rights, especially our right to the freedom of religion.

Why does an increase in Americans unaffiliated with religion bring me joy? Better yet, why should this please everyone?

Absence of organized religion makes the political processes of running a country easier. If there was no organized religion, then there would be more humility, far less violence and more structure.

Not to mention, without religion the biggest elephant in the room wouldn't have a leg to stand on: Political discourse would be a much more goal-oriented and progressive institution. The Republican Party revolves around the evangelical Christian worldview, and the Democratic Party obsesses over this notion to no end.

I am not suggesting political equalization. An absence of religion would merely make the political process a purer, more honest organism. Political separation and discourse would still exist, but without religion a more natural and healthy form of political discussion could take place.

What of the separation of church and state?

This phrase, "separation," in defense of liberty for our nation is useful, but it is honor-based and difficult to apply. Politicians would have to lie much more than they already do, if they were legally required to fully separate from their religion.

What does this mean for us?

Religious youth or atheist youth, born-again or raised in the church, inconvenient truth or not: The freedom of religion in America also encompasses the freedom to be unaffiliated. If the pattern shifts in favor of the "nones," I would call it only a matter of time.

The number of adult "nones" in America will continue to grow. As the generations of aggressive, fundamentalist-conditioned Americans fade away, Generation Y and our successors will grow into this new area of freedom. In time the pretensions and implications of religion will be replaced by a desire for productive cohabitation.

It won't be tomorrow and it will never be completely gone, but if religion slips from its pervasive grip on our social and political lives, it will be a change long overdue.

 

Reach the columnist at mschan1@asu.edu or follow him at @MorganSukotto

 

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