There is a top gun (excuse the expression) in town and they're called "Nones". These are people who are unaffiliated with any religious institution but who do claim some sort of spiritual ties. Here is a quick run down of who they are: Mostly male (56 percent); white (71 percent); atheist (27 percent); non church-going (72 percent); liberal on abortion and same sex marriage and not particularly hostile to religious institutions — they just don't want to belong to one!
While the rest of Christianity has experienced a decline since 2007 (Protestant 5 percent, white evangelicals 5 percent; white mainline 2 percent; Catholic 3 percent), these upstarts have experienced a 4.3 percent increase. They now represent close to 20 percent of the total population. Achtung Republicans! Most of them voted for Obama since they definitely have democratic leanings. Just another Republican headache for coming elections.
I would certainly not want to be in the missionary business these days because this voting- group would be a definite challenge. In spite of all the negativity surrounding them (those Millennials you know), I find a silver lining in their evolution. To me they possess a certain set of critical thinking skills that was sorely lacking in my generation (that's about as succinctly as I can frame it!) In other words they are not prone to believing the "stamp of approval" by the American Heart Association concerning Coco Puffs (since retracted) and the government food pyramid — definite improvement over the "duck and cover" generation.
It is comforting and exhilarating to know that this next generational replacement has '"gotten it". A nice counterbalance to the religious right, this rapidly growing segment of the population will define American spirituality for decades to come.