WIR - Christianity, Millennials & Glee
- August 16th, 2010
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We’ve made mention of Glee’s cross-generational appeal frequently in the past, but two news items hit our essentials post last week that are worth pointing out.
The first is the reference to stats cited within USA Today, stating that church is losing appeal with teens. While the USA Today article cited stats by Barna Group, our favorite authority on this front is the Pew Research Center. From their work, the religious habits of Millennials are a little less cut and dried and a lot less sensational.
On one hand, Millennials are indeed less religious than older Americans. Fewer Millennials belong to any particular faith than older people do today. They also are less likely to be affiliated than their parents or grandparents were when they were the same age. Millennials have lived in a much more diverse context than their parents or grandparents, exposing them to a pastiche of beliefs that has led to one-in-four (25%) members of the Millennial generation being unaffiliated with any particular faith: at 25%, Millennials are more unaffiliated than members of Gen Xers were at a comparable point in their life cycle (20% in the late 1990s) and twice as unaffiliated as Baby Boomers were as young adults (13% in the late 1970s). Young adults also attend religious services less often than older Americans today and are less likely to say that religion is very important in their lives.
While less aligned with organized religion, Millennials do remain fairly traditional in their beliefs and practices. According to research by the Pew Research Center, young adults’ beliefs about life after death and the existence of heaven, hell and miracles is similar to that of older people today. Though young adults pray less often, the number of young adults who say they pray every day is nearly identical to the portion of young people who said so in prior decades. While belief in God is lower among young adults than among older adults at this moment in time, Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago, suggesting that religious differences among youth are not entirely generational but a result of people’s tendency to place greater emphasis on religion as they age.
Last week, MTV reported that Glee is planning to incorporate Britney Spears into the upcoming season, but an interview with Ryan Murphy last month on TV Guide revealed that a ‘Christian Character’ would also be joining the teen lineup this fall. According to Murphy, the inclusion is an attempt to add “someone who Christian kids and parents can recognize and say, ‘Oh, look—I’m represented there, too!’”
While this may be an attempt to placate older viewers, Millennials will find the show to be as inclusive as the real world they live in, populated by representatives from mainstream as well as alternative lifestyles. Based on attitudes measured within the research conducted by Pew, chances are that a generation as tolerant and accepting as Millennials will have plenty of room for all newcomers this fall.