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How Gen Z’ers Are Remaking Religion to Suit Their Values

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In the 2000s, when I was carrying out research among evangelicals and Pentecostals in North Carolina and the north of England, I came to dread the inescapable question: “Are you born again?” Even more uncomfortable was being asked for my “personal testimony” of conversion.

Since the people I was studying had been kind enough to let me join their meetings, I felt I couldn’t politely refuse to answer. I would begin by saying, “Well, like a lot of people in England, I’m Church of England.” Silence. Digging my grave deeper, I’d explain in a semi-joking fashion that I had given my life to Christ when I was two weeks old, because that’s when I’d been baptized in a little village church in Devon, and in my tradition it was believed that the Holy Spirit was at work in the sacraments of water and oil. Silence.

“It’s a sort of ethnic religion,” I tried to explain. “In that sense, it’s a bit like being Jewish. You don’t get much choice. My parents were C of E, and my grandparents, and theirs before them—yea unto the Tudor Period. Even my local school was C of E.” More silence. I tried to reassure my listeners: “It’s important to me; it’s a central part of who I am.”

No matter how I tried to explain that I was really a Christian, just a different sort, it wouldn’t compute. To my born-again audience, these protestations meant only one thing: My soul still needed saving.

In my lifetime (I’m early Gen X), religion in many countries—including England—has shifted decisively from being something you inherited to something you choose. A symptom is the swiftly growing number of people who say they have no religion. This number is highest among young Millennials. In the United Kingdom, well over half identify as having “no religion”; in the United States, it’s over a third.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !