Fickle Teens Dump Evangelical Lifestyle

What has this world come to?

Dec. 2, 2006 — Geneva (apj.us) — I had to laugh out loud after reading about a podcast to which a colleague tipped me off.

The podcast, titled "The Kindlings Muse: Why teens are leaving the church and why they are right to do so", cut right to the heart of why teens are not interested in Christianity, especially the heavily-hyped evangelical flavor: they can't relate to it, and they find it hypocritical.

Well, what a surprise. Or not.

This was the fifth or sixth substantial item that's either been sent to me or that I've run across on the Web in the last few months explaining or decrying the loss of teenage Bible beaters in so-called evangelical Christian churches — you know the ones: where snake-oil salesmen use real snakes, talk in "tongues," "cure" AIDS with one plop on the forehead, and rake in tons of cash with no income tax liability.

All of these articles — most notably a highly-discussed piece by Laurie Goodstein that ran two months ago in the New York Times — depict this "loss" as a serious problem for the conservative Christian movement, and every one of them cites evangelical Christian leaders freaking out, wailing anf gnashing their teeth — alone and among themselves — as teenagers dump the faith and the lifestyle in droves.

Gee, what a surprise!
I would have thought that teens would be flocking to churches that tell them they can't kiss until they're married, can't drink beer, can't date until they're 35 — and all because Jesus said so! (…which, of course, he didn't.)

Can you imagine the teens that aren't running from these freaks? I suppose they are sucking up Kool-Aid and popcorn at each other's houses — under adult supervision, naturally — watching re-runs of Jim Jones's greatest homilies.

I am so tired of politically correct journalists — but in the case of Laurie Goodstein, I suspect she had no choice. If she is correct when she asserts that 35% of Americans identify themselves as "Bible-believing Christians" (which I doubt), then the New York Times cannot afford to anger them. Of course, the truth is that most people who are Christian and afraid to answer a pollster with this: "Well I am a Christian – but I don't believe in one damn thing the Bible says!" And they never, ever read the New York Times. To them, it's a work of Satan.

So let's assume this result in skewed — by about 25%. That leaves 10% of America ready to whip out our Bibles for the answer to global warming. And don't tell me it's the Devil.

This "fright" over losing teens sounds like something cooked up by the ultra-right Christian fundamentalists to set the stage for November elections – elections they are TRULY afraid of inasmuch as they will lose their stranglehold on the House and the Senate if things go as expected.

So, what do they do? Cry out that our children are running toward Hades in droves! Talk about an obtuse way to inject phony "family values" into the discourse.

Again, as I have for twenty years, I ask: "Whose family values?"

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