I recently met a young woman who was just back from a monthlong Costa Rican vacation. She said that she had gone in part to connect with her spiritual self, to shed the moral strictures of her youth and to find her place of peace as an adult. In her mind at least, it had been a successful trip. She was a new woman, spiritually awakened.
She told me that she had gone from religious to nonbeliever, and then to spiritual. Putting aside the fact that most young people probably couldn't afford to take a monthlong vacation in a foreign country, and the fact that her spiritual awakening was admittedly spiked with copious amounts of Costa Rican rum, her story struck me as increasingly normative rather than anomalous. Many young adults seem to be moving away from organized religion while simultaneously trying desperately to connect with their spirituality.
In fact, two recently released reports seem to buttress this observation.
A report entitled "Religion Among the Millennials" produced by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life and released this week found that one in four people 18 to 29 years old are unaffiliated with a religion. But that by no means makes them all atheists or agnostics. While there are always religious people among the unaffiliated, the numbers are significantly higher among the younger unaffiliated crowd. While they are less likely than those unaffiliated and older than them to believe in God, they are more likely to believe in life after death, heaven and hell, and miracles.
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