Monday, November 24, 2008

Young prefer being "spiritual" to being religious.

Editorial by Terry Sanderson, NSS

Organised religion is rapidly losing out to "spirituality" (which means whatever you want it to)
I have oft maintained that the
"I'm spiritual-but-not-religious" approach to life will eventually spell the end of organised religion.
More evidence of this comes from America, where a survey of 6,853 young people between the ages of 12 and 25 found that they preferred being "spiritual" to being religious. A third of the sample said they didn't trust organised religion.

The survey was conducted by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute and released last week. The first question was, "What does it mean to be spiritual?" There were nine choices, running from "believing in God" to "being true to one's inner self." They also could say that there is no spiritual dimension, and there was an "I don't know" option. 93% of the young people surveyed believe there is a spiritual aspect to life.

But before the "faith leaders" start jumping for joy, we have to look more closely at what these youngsters men by "spiritual". "Spending time in nature" topped the list of responses. "Listening to or playing music" was No. 2, and "helping other people or the community" was third. "Attending religious services" came ninth.

The churches are helpless in the face of this trend, which is mirrored throughout the Western world. Young people hate the authoritarian, unjust and bigoted way in which they see organised religion behaving. Some of them who were questioned further by the pollsters said they didn't like the sexism and homophobia and the attendant cruelty. They didn't like the way that religions all claimed superiority over other world views.

It's a trend we should welcome and encourage. Eventually it will rob the arrogant "faith leaders" of their power to create conflict. Young people are showing that it is time for a change. And they don't see that change coming from the churches or the mosques. They have started on a new journey, and although it will lead many of them to other forms of superstition and irrationality, many others will conclude that they don't need any of the supports of unreason and will end up perfectly contented atheists with an attendant "spirituality" that most of us would simply define as common sense and human compassion.

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