Boomers' Ties to Religion Are Loosening

By David Briggs Ap Religion | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 9, 1994 | Go to article overview

Boomers' Ties to Religion Are Loosening


David Briggs Ap Religion, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Four years ago, when the Rev. Barbara Blaisdell came to Central Christian Church in Indianapolis, the average age of the 60 worshipers on any Sunday was 75.

Since then, she has performed 47 funerals but attracted 150 new members and others who participate but have not joined. There are now 200 people in church on Sunday, nearly two-thirds of them baby boomers.

Many of the baby boomers are interesting people who are great at cocktail parties and more than willing to pitch in for community servicep, Blaisdell said. But amid the success doubt about the substance of their faith commitments lingers.

"It's me and my Jesus, or you and your Jesus or Buddha or whatever works for you," she told a recent conference of sociologists, pastors and theologians who gathered to discuss "Baby Boomers and the Changing Shape of American Religion."

The good news from the conference sponsored by the Louisville Institute for the Study of Protestantism and American Culture is that the nearly one-third of Americans who are baby boomers are interested in spirituality.

The more disturbing news is that the spiritual quests of many of the 76 million people ages 30 to 48 are startlingly personal, and the claims of of church tradition and sources such as the Bible are far less compelling to them than to past generations.

Many researchers saw a gloomy short-term prognosis for traditional religions, particularly for mainline Protestant churches such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In a study for their book, "Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Mainline Protestant Baby Boomers," sociologists Dean Hoge, Benton Johnson and Donald Luidens surveyed 500 people aged 33 to 42 who were confirmed in Presbyterian churches in the 1950s and 1960s. …

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