Thursday, May 01, 2014

They gain power as they shrink?

The Atlantic reports on the growing influence of progressive churches:
Blacks, hispanics, and people of mixed race are all more likely to be religious progressives than conservatives; these groups are also among the fastest-growing demographics in the United States. Similarly, Millennials are more than twice as likely to be religious progressives than religious conservatives; in fact, people older than 50 make up more than 60 percent of those who are considered to be religious conservatives. Although it's impossible to talk to an 18-year-old about her views on culture and predict what she'll think in two decades, these demographic trends suggest that the religious right is about to start shrinking.But the question of influence is a little fuzzier. Although more than a third of Millennials are considered religious progressives, roughly 40 percent don't have any faith at all: A growing number of young people don't identify with a particular religion. That, along with the fact that an overwhelming majority of religious progressives don't see religion as "the most important thing in their life," suggests that faith is losing its overall influence over how people think about social and cultural issues.
As the authors of the Brookings study wrote, "Religious progressivism, precisely because of its diversity, will never constitute the same cohesive and relatively homogenous force that religious conservatism represents." In terms of individual hearts and minds, it's hard to tell how much of a role "religion" has in the new wave of "religious progressivism"—it's possible to be religious and progressive at the same time, but it's also possible that those progressive beliefs don't have much to do with God.

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