Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why Millennials Need Religion: Continuing the Conversation

This past week, I published a post on my blog, "Why I Am Staying: Replying to CNN's 'Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church." My roommate, who happens to be MIT's social media specialist, suggested that my post incite a campaign of young people sharing their reasons for staying in their faith across various forms of social media, followed by the hashtag, #whyimstaying. To my pleasant surprise, my post was soon picked up by Deseret News, Real Clear Religion, and, as of this morning, LDS Living. While I recognize that plenty of those in my generation are not interested in church, I hope to spread my message that there are millennials who are still interested in making religion part of their life.

I understand that religion has instigated myriad conflicts. And I readily acknowledge that many agnostics and non-religious people I know are kind, genuine people. So, why do I think millennials need religion? Here are my thoughts so far, though, as I have often state, my lists are seldom exhaustive:

1. Religion helps millennials diminish their self-absorption:
We live in a society where people easily fall into the mentality, "it's all about me." First, we are generally told at high school and college graduations that we are special, and that the world should be grateful to have someone like us. Then, we are bombarded by commercials and messages explaining why we "deserve" to have a certain product, deal, whatever. Is it any wonder that many people my age often have attitudes of entitlement? Religion, on the other hand, can challenge you to think beyond yourself. It has taught me, for example, that I am subject to the consequences of the choices that I have made. It has also taught me the value of serving others to the best of my ability, and to view others in the same way that Jesus Christ did. Finally, it reminds me that in the end, I also have God to thank for my numerous blessings and accomplishments.

2.  Religion helps millennials establish a moral anchor.
Religious institutions are not perfect. In fact, they'll never be perfect because they are full of imperfect leaders and churchgoers (see this post for further elucidation). But that's what religion is about. It is to help fallible people like us to become better people, through teaching principles of good living. What kind of world would we have if more husbands and wives were respectful to one another, employees were more honest, and people viewed others as people of infinite worth? Like I said, I know many good non-denominational people. But I still believe that religion can be an arena where people can learn and develop integrity and respect.

3. Religion helps give millennials hope.
We live in a tumultuous and degenerate society that is replete with distress and despair. While I seek to keep abreast on current events, reading the news often leaves me incredulous with the world's cruelty. But my religion gives me hope that I can live by. While I believe that I am responsible for helping those within my sphere of influence to the best of my abilities, I believe that there is a loving and caring God who is also aware of His children. We are his most cherished creation. And I believe that in the next life, every cruelty, injustice, or malice will be made right. 

Why else do you think that millennials need religion? Your comments are appreciated.

Photo by Kevin J Steinberg, U.S. Navy

1 comment:

  1. Loved ALL these reasons, especially the first. SO GOOD! I will post more on this conversation later when I have a longer minute. But nice work Sarah!