Religion Losing Esteem among College Students, Young Professionals

Empty pews in a Church. Photo: Joe Q

Empty pews in a Church. Photo: Joe Q

In today’s world, church attendance and the degree of dedication to faith is declining as people find better ways to fulfill their purpose in life, previously provided by religion.
For these people, religion is no longer needed and perceived as having nothing to offer.

The decline is most prevalent with the college students and young professionals, from age group 18-29, better known as the millennial generation. The millenials were born after 1980 and came to age by the year 2000.

According to the PewResearch Center, 25 percent of the millennial generation claimed no affiliation with a particular faith, describing themselves as “atheist,” “agnostic” or “nothing in particular.” Furthermore, nearly 18 percent of people under 30 were raised in a religion but are now unaffiliated with any particular faith. The recent “change to being unaffiliated with” mostly came from the Christian communities.

“This is a concern…the students became insecure with their own faith and trust in God…they became who the world wants to see, and not how God planned them to be,” said Sister Mary Katherine of the Cross. She is the Mother Superior of the Carmelite Sister’s Divino Cupre Jesu (DCJ) Convent and the current Director of the Carmelite Learning Center of San Antonio, Texas.

Sister Mary Katherine of the Cross. Photo: Joe Q

Sister Mary Katherine of the Cross. Photo: Joe Q

Katherine also stated that there is no real atheist in the world because it is a natural thing to believe in God, as we are supposed to believe in our creator. She added that the atheists may not openly acknowledge God but deep under their layers of pretension, they know that there is God, because He is a part of man’s being.

“They need spiritual guidance if they claim that there is no God – even Satan believes in God,” said Katherine.

Based on the MIT Technology Review, the rise of Internet usage and higher level of secular college education correlated to the 50 percent decline in religious affiliations. Psychology Today reported that 60 percent of students lose their religious affiliation during their college years.

“We are actively working on the spirituality of the college students. They are very vulnerable and they hear so many voices that impact their consciousness and ultimately affected their choices and decisions in their lives, moving towards modern secularism, and less on spirituality,” said Therese Aaker, a religious missionary and the communication specialist of Focus.org. FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, is a national outreach organization that invites college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Aaker stated that the freethinking professors challenged the student’s religious views and encouraged rational skepticism, or even atheism. Likewise, the entertainment media (music, movies and the Internet) influenced the students to perceive success, sex, power, and money as the acceptable standard, and became the student’s personal goals in life. Hence, that leaves no room for the soul.

Therese Aaker of FOCUS.org. Photo: JoeQ

Therese Aaker of FOCUS.org. Photo: JoeQ

FOCUS missionaries, like Aaker, serve 99 campuses (including the digital gampus) in 35 states throughout the country, including the District of Columbia. 495 missionaries have entered the religious vocation since 1998. Each missionary receives over 400+ hours of world-class training in Catechesis, Evangelization, Stewardship and Leadership Development.

The millennials are now impacting today’s colleges, the workplace, churches, and other organizations, and if the church is to be vibrant and effective in the twenty-first century, then the pastors, clergies and church leaders need to know how to connect with the millenials.

“We want the college students back in the church and staying in the church,” said Aaker.

“The church must return to the roots of religion, and not change to accommodate the changing world. Attending mass is not enough. It involves Metanoia, the transformation of one’s life resulting from penitence and spiritual conversion,” said Katherine.

The Probe Ministries reported nearly 78 million millenials were born between 1980 and 2000, becoming America’s largest and least religious generation, with nearly 65 percent rarely or never attending religious services. This is a staggering majority and can have adverse effects on the future of America.

When asked why the students showed no interest in attending Church services, Aaker replied with a meaningful smile that, “They simply have not met the real Jesus yet.”

© 2014 Joe Quintana

Author: Joe Quintana, M.A. | Multimedia Journalist
Editor-in-Chief at Journalism for the Soul
Master of Arts - Multimedia Journalism.