Today’s LA Times points us to a Pew study that claims that younger people are becoming less religious. More accurately they state that young people “believe” but do not belong. I would say that this merely shows that we are a more individualistic nation and not much more than that.

From today’s LA Times:

Is faith losing its grip on the young?

That would be one way to read a new report by the respected Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which found that more than one-quarter of Americans age 18 to 29 have no religious preference or affiliation, and fewer than one in five attend services regularly. That makes them easily the least religious generation among Americans alive today, perhaps the least religious ever.

Or does it?

The Pew study found that, although young adults — the so-called Millennial generation born after 1981 — are shunning traditional religious denominations and services in unprecedented numbers, their faith in God and the power of prayer appears nearly as strong as that of young people in earlier generations.

“If you think of religion primarily as a matter of whether people belong to a particular faith and attend the worship services of that faith . . . then millennials are less religious than other recent generations,” said Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum, a Washington-based think tank run by the nonprofit Pew Research Center. “But when it comes to measures not of belonging but of believing, they aren’t so clearly less religious.”

Indeed. How do we gain affiliation? That once again is the million dollar question. And I’m smack dab in the middle of it here in Buffalo. The majority of our campus here has forgotten or perhaps have never even considered that there’s a church just next door. Why? They don’t think they need us. “Everyone’s old, or judgmental, or they just want to control us, or stop us from having sex.” The few students who make their way here are usually well committed to Catholicism before they set foot in here, but many of them don’t make it here at all even with a solid family practice. The rhythms of college life and especially of graduate school life are different from home. We need to help them gain an adult sense of faith.

But first we need to get them in the door. A daunting task to be sure.

Now all that being said, that doesn’t mean that any of these young people have no spiritual experience. Indeed many at the med school find God at the Gross anatomy lab, or serving the needs of those in rural areas. Others find God skiing or in the mountains or on a Lake in the summer communing with nature but seeing the vastness that is God. For others the birth of a child, or the love in marriage, or some other relationship reveals something of God to them.

Whatever the case, there’s a wide disconnect between believing and belonging.

Read more from the LA Times.