As I prepared to be ordained recently, my mind kept returning to the people in my life who might be perplexed by this decision. I have friends and colleagues who wonder, quite justly, what the church has to offer that one cannot find elsewhere. I thought about how I might describe what pulls me toward ministry and the church in particular.
I frequently speak to church groups about pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I speak as a pilgrim, but the conversation often turns to politics. Inevitably someone will ask about our denomination’s position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There’s no simple answer.
On Monday evening, my daughter and I joined several hundred others outside the Capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. We were there for the latest in a series of Moral Monday rallies organized to oppose the legislature’s policies toward (among other things) social programs, education, environmental legislation, and voting rights.
The statehouse is a solid 90-minute drive from our house, so it makes for a long evening on a school night.
The conventional wisdom has been that going to college leads people away from organized religion, and that was true for those born in the first part of the 20th century. But it’s not true for recent generations, says sociologist Philip Schwadel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. In fact, it’s the least-educated members of Generation X—people born roughly between 1965 and 1980—who are most likely to leave religion. “Americans born in the late 1920s and ’30s who graduated from college were twice as likely to drop out of religion than people who didn’t graduate from college,” said Schwadel. However, for the generation born in the 1960s, there’s no difference between those who did and those who did not go to college in their likelihood of religious affiliation. Among those born in the 1970s, “those without a college education are the most likely to drop out.” Schwadel did not include millennials—Americans roughly between the ages 18 and 30—in the study because, he said, it’s too soon to tell if they will settle on a religious identity (RNS).