The 21st century generation of Americans has been leaving an imprint on today’s religious landscape by refusing to affiliate with a religious group or identity. According to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public life, one-third of Americans under the age of 30 have no religious affiliation. Such people have been now labeled as “nones.”
It is ironic that such unreligious people now have a label because that is the one thing they are trying to evade. Nones aren’t necessarily atheist, some even believe in a higher universal spirit while others do not. This younger generation may even consider themselves religious or even spiritual, only outside of an organization.
Many students who attend a Catholic college or university are on the borderline about their beliefs in a “God.” Older generations where the majority are allied with a religion believe that the younger generation are less discipline or even lazy for not joining a religious group.
“I grew up as a Catholic,” said business major Michelle Petronaci. “I went to church and had youth group every Monday growing up. The only thing is as I got older I lost faith after seeing struggle and death, I personally just could not comprehend how a “God” could put people through that.”
Even though Petronaci does not believe in God, she along with other “nones” do not feel hostile toward other religious institutions or religious peers.
“I have religious and non-religious friends and it doesn’t bother me either way,” Petronaci said. “I came to Cabrini knowing it was a pretty lenient college when it came to faith. I like that everything doesn’t have to be black and white.”
Most nones have liberal spirits and are open to others’ ideas as well as things like same sex marriage and abortion. Yet, some people just do not want to get caught up in an identity of religion or even spirituality. Some reject it all in all because of their own personal reasons.
“I believe you create your own path and no one makes it for you” Petronaci said. “Sometimes I think it is a cop out when people believe things are meant to happen or things will come because “God” wants it to. I think you control your own destiny.”
All in all, it seems the younger generation is less likely to be inclined to believe or belong to a religious institution. Maybe that is not such a bad thing because the younger generation seems to be less conservative and takes on more liberal attributes. They seem to understand and take in different cultures, values, races, genders and sexual orientations.
Nones like Petronaci may have escaped the discipline but they live in a world where a grey area is accepted as they accept those who live in a world of black and white.
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