(RNS) Does this blog name ring a bell? I hope so!
Years ago at USA TODAY, I launched the Idea Club, a weekly online conversations with smart and civil (mostly) readers about the intersection of religion, spirituality and ethics with the news and culture of the day. What began as a question of the week, morphed by fall 2008 into a daily blog called Faith & Reason.
Today, in my still-new role as senior national correspondent for Religion News Service, I miss these polite (mostly) and passionate (almost always) exchanges. So, RNS is reviving -- resurrecting, you might say -- Faith & Reason.
This will be more a blog than a column. While both offer a point of view, at F&R those views will chiefly be yours. I’ll offer some thoughts on an issue, share my questions and then invite you to chime in. (Finally, more space than 140 characters!)
Bring your brains, your beliefs, your questions and, please, your manners. Along with the familiar Faith & Reason banner, I maintain same motto: All views, respectfully presented, are welcome. I also issue the same call to action: Post early, post often, and invite your friends.
The Pew Research Center’s Portrait of Jewish Americans has Jewish institutional leaders in a tizzy. Of particular concern: A significant number of adults are tied to Judaism not by religion but culture or family ties. Some suggest a new “Jewish Head Start” – free Jewish preschool for every family as a way to rev up Jewish identity. And even before the Pew survey, some Jewish leaders have called for reinventing, even simplifying, the Torah study time required for Bar and Bat Mitzvah teens.
But will these efforts lead to more religiously Jewish adults a decade or two down the road? Not if you judge by the experience of Christian churches.
For all the kid-centered programs at family life centers, the pizza-party youth groups and short mission trips to pass out Bibles and shoes in third-world countries, Christians are also moving along the spectrum toward nominal faith or none at all. Young adults lead the way.
A 2007 LifeWay research study found seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. And a third of those said they never went back. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, found in their extensive research, no proof that “spiritual activity as a young person causes spiritual engagement as an adult. In fact, the research confirms the pattern that many students who are active early in life disengage from their faith as they get older…”
At best, spiritual activity in one’s youth may just enhance the odds in faith’s favor, said Barna
What might work? Megan Hill, writing for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics site, had an idea for the adults: Go to church. She wrote, “If we want the next generation to embrace the faith, parents and extended family have to believe and faithfully practice it themselves.”
As Catholic sociologist William D’Antonio once told me, the children of adults who don’t go to Mass won’t go when they grow up. “People don’t grow into attending Mass.”
Your turn! Did religious school or youth activities at your church or synagogue make you the believer – or nominal or None (no religious identity) – you are today?