According to the Pew Research Center's latest study, more young Americans doubt the existence of God than at any other time in our nation's history.
It's sort of ironic when you think about it, considering that God and religion have never been more center stage in our politics and culture than they are right now. However, in spite of Herculean efforts by the Evangelical right to insert religion into every aspect of our lives, 31% of young adults under the age of 30 express doubt that God exists.
Now I'm sure if we were to ask Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson or any of the other proselytizers on the religious right to explain this disturbing turn of events, they'd have absolutely no trouble affixing blame. They'd begin by lamenting the pervasive influence of a godless entertainment industry, then point to the very obvious fact that prayers are not allowed in government buildings or schools, but sex education and condoms are. Next, they'd bemoan the acceptance of homosexuality as a legitimate life choice rather than the abomination that it is, and of course, the coup d'etat would be the legalization of abortion. Some would also throw in the rise of feminism, divorce and co-ed dorms but any way you slice it the answer is obvious. Living in this modern day Sodom and Gomorrah, it's no wonder young people doubt the existence of God.
A compelling argument to be sure, but I'm more inclined to look for the culprit somewhere else. I think the reason that young people are losing faith in the belief that God exists is because the God that the religious right is telling them to worship and obey isn't anyone to whom you'd want to ascribe all-seeing, all-knowing powers.
Let's face it, it's hard to have faith in a God that's so vindictive, judgemental and intolerant, He, and really does anyone think there's even a remote possibility that this God's a she, thinks a young woman who has sex outside of marriage deserves to get pregnant or worse, contract a venereal disease. Educating her about her body and giving her condoms just encourages her to engage in sinful behavior, sinful behavior her partner wouldn't be participating in if she wasn't leading him on. And don't even get this God started on homosexuality. Not only is it a blight upon civilization that should be condemned in the angriest, most strident terms, it's also responsible (according to Pat Robertson) for the recent spate of floods, tornados and hurricanes plaguing the midwest and south. Another characteristic of this God is that he has absolutely no patience for the belief in any other God or faith. It seems that there is only one true path, and if you aren't on it, you are one of them not us. If there's one thing this God has made plain to his followers, it's that he doesn't like anyone who is a them.
In fact, according to his advocates, the list of things this God doesn't like is far longer than the list of things he does and it includes President Obama, uppity women, universal healthcare, poor people, George Clooney, environmentalists, and a whole host of others too numerous to list. When you look at it in those terms it's easy to understand why recruitment for the big guy is off among young people. It makes much more sense for them to believe in Bruce Springsteen. He's larger than life, embraces his fellow man, cares about the sick and poor, preaches love and tolerance wherever he goes and makes incredible music. I'm also pretty sure that he's allowed in government buildings and schools.