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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
Have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see the similarity in numbers between the Millennials and Gen X’ers and how they self-report on daily prayer while in their 20s: two out of five pray daily.

Have to admit, I was a bit surprised to see the similarity in numbers between the Millennials and Gen X’ers and how they self-report on daily prayer while in their 20s: two out of five pray daily.

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The Consequence of Cohabitation

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Conservative Political Action Conference 2011A participant writes on a “Why Are You Conservative?” poster at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"The pro-life movement is definitely very appealing to younger evangelical Christians. … Definitely pushing the whole gay marriage thing, that’s more toward older folks. I don’t feel like our generation really cares about that at all."
Josh Kunkle, a senior at Manchester College on NPR

While some conservative mainstays boycotted the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year to protest the inclusion of GOProud, an advocacy group “representing gay conservatives and their allies,” younger attendees came in droves. Polling data shows that Millennials — those born after 1980 — are more likely than any other generation to support gay marriage. This trend was reflected at CPAC, too.

Princeton philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah characterizes this attitudinal shift as “the consequence of cohabitaton.” He says today’s college students are less homophobic because they’ve grown up knowing other gay peers — people they may or may not have liked, but who are nevertheless “just part of the normal range of what’s around” and therefore “the idea that these people are particularly horrendous is just not one that you can sell.”

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"Spiritual But Not Religious"

Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

"I think in a way that kind of cliche ‘spiritual but not religious,’ which apparently is a thing more and more people say to describe themselves, is in a way an attempt to reconcile in some cases with science. In other words…if I say I believe in this highly anthropomorphic God, if I’m religious and too old-fashioned in a sense, or buy into specific claims of revelation, that might not sit well with the modern scientific intelligence."
—Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God (February 2, 2010)

Young People Less Religiously Affiliated
(graphic: Pew Research Center)

New research from the Pew Forum on Public Life reveals that a sizable slice of the Millenial population (people born after 1981) does not affiliate with a particular religious denomination or faith. We’re aware that people of all ages are defining themselves under the expansive umbrella of “spiritual but not religious.” We see this, in part, through the weekly listener emails that flow into our inbox.

Our contact form includes a question: “What faith tradition, if any, do you belong to?” Here are examples of some recent responses we’ve received:

  • mindfulness
  • none now
  • I defy labels ;)
  • Christian, Baptist… though I refer to myself as a “recovering evangelical” currently not affiliated
  • atheist, with emerging theory of spirituality
  • the teachings of Christ, the Buddha, and my dog, not necessarily in that order

As you can see, it’s quite a spread. In his recent public conversation with Krista, Robert Wright provided some helpful insights about how this “spiritual but not religious” trend might relate to a concern with what he calls “modern scientific intelligence.”

If you consider yourself “spiritual but not religious,” can you help us understand what this term actually means to you? Does science have something to do with it? Is it primarily a youthful Millennial trend, as the Pew Forum report suggests? Are there other terms that you would add to the list above to describe yourself on this “spiritual but not religious” continuum?

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