Christian apologist Alex McFarland understands that young people are less religious today than ever before. But why is that?
He has a list of ten reasons… all of which are completely off the mark.
1. Mindset of “digital natives” is very much separate from other generations.
This, he says, means young people have no “brand loyalty,” suggesting that we’re not committed to any single institution and we’re apt to just move on to the next big thing. But a lack of commitment isn’t the problem. Rather, there’s no reason to stay loyal to a church when it doesn’t offer much value to your life. And when a “brand” screws up over and over on the simplest things (as we’ll see in a moment), you’re better off finding an alternative instead of wasting your time.
2. Breakdown of the family.
Atheists still have families. Checkmate, McFarland.
3. Militant secularism.
“Militant” is just the word Christians use to describe everyone who’s passionate about something they disagree with. There are Christian private schools and universities, churches on every block, and a Congress that’s overwhelmingly full of Jesus followers. Atheists have a handful of popular books and some real estate on the internet.
If that’s supposed to be our “army,” I have no clue how Christians are losing.
Maybe it’s because our ideas are more honest and persuasive than the constant stream of lies and hypocrisy sold by religious leaders.
4. Lack of spiritual authenticity among adults.
McFarland thinks we have a lack of religious role models who live out their faith. He’s got it completely backwards.
There are plenty of Christian leaders fully committed to their faith. And where has that led us (besides the election of a know-nothing President)? To a country where most Christians are against marriage equality, against women’s rights, against comprehensive sex education, against science, against immigrants, against helping the poor, and against all that other stuff they think Jesus stands for.
When Christians figure out what an “authentic” believer looks like, let us know. In the meantime, the Christian leaders who get the most airtime and have the largest followings tend to hold and promote a despicable set of values.
5. The church’s cultural influence has diminished.
I’m tempted to give him this one, but it’s not the fault of young people that they no longer look up to the church.
If I want to understand the nuances of humanity, and learn about complicated issues, and share a common bond with complete strangers, I’m better off chatting with people online after watching a few hours of HBO than listening to some pastor.
6. Pervasive cultural abandonment of morality.
81% of evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. Not because they thought he was the greatest man alive, per se, but (very likely) because he promised them he’d appoint a pro-life Supreme Court justice. He did just that with Neil Gorsuch. And Gorsuch’s first real action on the bench was to cast the tie-breaking vote in a 5-4 decision to kill a man.
This is what Christian morality looks like. They’re pro-life but love the death penalty. They’re pro-marriage but not for gay people. They love all of God’s creations but want to grab their guns and hunt them down. They want to understand God’s “mysterious ways” but block scientists at every turn.
The culture didn’t abandon morals. Christians did.
7. Intellectual skepticism.
This is just plain dumb. McFarland essentially says critical thinking is a problem. It’s not that we oppose people who claim to have the answers, like he suggests, but that we question people whose answers are clearly, objectively wrong.
Skepticism teaches you not to believe something just because an authority figure says it. You need to know how to evaluate their ideas. And religious leaders with absurd claims have lost their credibility many times over.
8. The rise of a fad called “atheism.”
He says that like atheism was invented around the same time as Crystal Pepsi…
Even the “New Atheism” — if you want to call that a “fad” — wasn’t a short-lived thing that people grew out of. It was mostly about saying it’s okay to challenge religious beliefs that have no basis in reality.
That’s a mindset, not a passing trend, and it’s not about to disappear.
If atheism is a fad, then McFarland should be thrilled, since fads disappear over time. The fact that he’s worried suggests that he realizes atheists aren’t going away or shutting up, and we’re going to keep calling him out on his bullshit.
9. Our new God: Tolerance be Thy name.
You would think the people who brag about Jesus loving the outcasts in society would have a little more empathy for those who are routinely marginalized… Instead, Christians have become a religion of exclusion while non-religious people have embraced and stood up for people who aren’t always like ourselves.
Leave it to a Christian to turn “tolerance” into a slur.
10. The commonly defiant posture of young adulthood.
He’s saying kids tend to be rebellious, so of course they would reject the religion of their parents. Maybe that’s true. But from all the data we’ve seen, young people have left religion in droves, and there’s no sign that a giant swath of young Nones are now heading back in the other direction.
The real question is whether second generation atheists will “rebel” against their parents and turn religious. There’s no indication that’s happening now, and no reason to think it’s going to happen later on.
By the way, the bio and byline in that Fox News article refer to “Dr. Alex McFarland.” That guy never earned a Ph.D. in anything. His own website says he earned “an honorary Doctoral from both Southern Evangelical Seminary and Louisiana Baptist University,” two Christian schools. As we’ve seen with David Barton and Joyce Meyer, honorary degrees from Christian schools are a dime a dozen and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
In other words, McFarland was misleading people before the very first word of his article.
You know why young people aren’t religious? Because Christians like Alex McFarland continue treating us like idiots, as if we can’t see through his propaganda.
If he really wants to know why we’re abandoning religion in record numbers, he should look in a mirror.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Mason for the link)