The religious conservative right has long been a thorn in the side of Democrats and progressives in general. Mixing religion with politics has been considered much too acceptable for far too long and now young evangelicals are turning the tide in both church attendance and their voting habits, and, in compelling numbers. It’s the 18-to-29-year-old age group producing a 43 percent drop in their participation in Christian church services.
They’re telling parents “Don’t tell me what to do,” saying they will live with their partner before marriage if they want to, and that means gay or straight. And abortion is an option they want on the table if they decide to end a pregnancy. In other words, mom and dad, we can think for ourselves and do not necessarily agree with your fundamentalist beliefs. These young people maintain their Christian frame of mind but many have decided not to attend a church at all.
What is frightening is the fact that some say that based on politics as usual today, they may just not vote at all. That is a dangerous precedent, one that is not prevalent only in their age group, but rather widespread among all ages due to congressional dysfunction going on in Washington. 76 percent of all voters say that most members of Congress should be dumped from office in 2012, the highest percentage ever says Gallup in asking the question over 19 years.
The whole thing is reminiscent of members leaving the Catholic Church for years because of the stringent discipline that allows them little leeway in making their life’s decisions. My Catholic friends have told me repeatedly that the church is so demanding that it is impossible to think for yourself and be a loyal follower. So, they leave. And now it has reached the evangelical community and these millennials have decided they aren’t taking it anymore.
Here are some hot spots for this group in a CNN report by Laura Sessions Stepp:
· 70% are OK with unmarried sex and engage as much as non-Christians
· Most women in their early 20s give birth unmarried
· 60% want abortion legal
· 60% support same-sex marriages
According to the Christian Science Monitor, millennials say the wealthy and corporations have too much power and should be taxed more. Two-thirds want more regulation for financial institutions. Stepp says this is beginning to sound a lot like Democratic ideology, but I say it is simply a new progressive tone from the young people who are sick and tired of the radical conservative dogma that has brought this country to its knees over the past few years.
It is apparent that the GOP is losing these young evangelicals in significant numbers, but that could also apply to the left if it isn’t careful. It will take a definite improvement in the jobs situation to get this group’s attention. And since elections in the past have been decided by the 40+ crowd, much of the emphasis of the President and fellow Democrats seems to have ignored these young people. Obama received 33 percent of the young white evangelical vote in 2008, and he can’t win without it and other millennials in 2012.