Christianity a ‘Faded Memory’ for Most Young Britons

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
1 Timothy 4:1-2

LONDON – Most young people in Britain consider Christianity irrelevant to their lives but they are not as hostile towards religion as their parents’ generation, researchers in the Church of England have found.

The researchers surveyed 300 young people from Generation Y – those born after 1982 – who had attended a Christian youth or community project. The five-year study looked at their faith in relation to Christianity and the impact of Christian youth and community work on their faith development.

It found that young people were more likely to put their faith in friends, their family or themselves than in God.

Sylvia Collins-Mayo, a sociologist of religion and one of the researchers behind the study, said: “For the majority, religion and spirituality was irrelevant for day-to-day living; our young people were not looking for answers to ultimate questions and showed little sign of ‘pick and mix’ spirituality.”

She said that young people only sought a religious perspective on “rare occasions” and that when they did, they often “made do” with a “very faded, inherited cultural memory of Christianity in the absence of anything else.”

This tended to be in times of difficulty, for example, after suffering a bereavement or illness in the family.

“In this respect they would sometimes pray in their bedrooms,” she said. “What is salutary for the Church is that generally young people seemed quite content with this situation, happy to get by with what little they knew about the Christian faith.”

The findings suggested that while Christian youth projects were an important source of support for young Christians, they had little impact on the faith of the non-churchgoers who took part in them.

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