Faith Leaders Respond to Religion's Changing Role

Monday, October 21, 2013

Last week we heard from members of the millennial generation who are grappling with the faith they were raised in. But millennials aren't just struggling with their religious identities, they're abandoning institutions all together. As the data shows, a full 1 in 4 millennials claim no religious affiliation.

These young Americans are determining their own faith outside of the traditional confines of organized religion. They're unabashedly picking and prioritizing traditions and values that work best for them.

But it begs the question: How do religious leaders feel about this shift? And what are they doing to try to attract young people back into the religious fold?

For answers, we turn to Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk of the Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Ohio; Pastor Dennis Baril of the Community Covenant Church in Massachusetts; and Imam Mustafa Umar with the Islamic Institute of Orange County, CA.


Reverend Dennis Baril, Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk and Imam Mustafa Umar

Produced by:

Allie Ferguson and Megan Quellhorst


T.J. Raphael

Comments [12]

David Bradley from Philadelphia, PA

As someone who grew up in a mainstream religious tradition, I was impressed to hear clergy talking about moving past Enlightenment notions of black and white and right and wrong, and particularly to hear Rabbi Nosanchuk speak about engaging people at the edge. His final response about focusing on valuing the humanity of others seemed to leave room for humanists and those pursuing faith to meet under the large tent of human interconnectedness. I've often felt spiritual inquiry should widen as it progresses, not narrow. This conversation did that. Well done!

Oct. 22 2013 08:33 AM
Winter Colby

As a secular humanist I am disappointed by the myopic representation from Abrahamic religions in this episode. I feel that a humanist atheist would have had valuable input as to why 1/4 of the youth born after 1980 describe themselves as not religious. Many of us see the "mysteries" of religion and also see the not so mysterious results of the effect of religion on society. There are plenty of mysteries which have been solved by science, and many more to be solved. The biggest problem with religion is that once the answer is "God's will" the faithful stop asking the good questions.

Oct. 21 2013 06:07 PM
Martha from Illinois

How disappointing! In 2013 we are still putting together interfaith panels that are entirely male. As a baby boomer with two millennial daughters, I can tell you they would be unimpressed with today's show as I was. Having been an ordained spiritual leader my entire adult life, I'm tired of such panels. Please do better next time.

Oct. 21 2013 05:06 PM

I only caught some of the shows, and they had their interesting points. The wrap-up show today (Monday) was disappointing in its focus on the Abrahamic religions, but that may represent John's particular bias. It would have been nice to have an interview with Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins, say, for an authoritative view on the humanist/realist take. Leaving it up to three kids wasn't balanced.

It would also have been nice if someone had expounded on the dangers of religion and the harm it does to society, especially in the form of taking away one's self-responsibility. Analytically, religion is akin to fascism in its structure and goals. There is a reason Constantine chose the top-down, authoritative Christianity to replace Roman polytheism. That "render unto Caesar" bit appealed to him. Your show, for example, didn't, apparently, explore the psychological needs of people that drive them towards accepting, nay, seeking, religious domination.

The basic nature of people is to cooperate and aid their fellow humans. This is true of every social species (heck, every species; a species divided against itself will not survive). People will do good on their own; it takes ideology to make them do bad.

Oct. 21 2013 04:49 PM
Ed75 from Larchmont

And the largest religious group in America is the Catholic Church ... and not a priest on the panel ... hmmm.

Oct. 21 2013 03:53 PM
Jim from Minnesota

Truth is not always representative of demographics and behaviors..

Oct. 21 2013 03:01 PM

Having a discussion about religion with three Abrahamic based religious representatives was lame at best. Is there nothing new/old or interesting in this vast Universe, as far as religion is concerned? Maybe the next time you guys are brain storming ideas someone might want to use Goggle. I just Goggled "religions of the world" and came up with 22 different "major" religions. And I can imagine how limited that list is being it the first thing that popped up on Goggle. Lazy journalism affects us all and makes for uninteresting radio.

Oct. 21 2013 02:40 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Many people out there in the world want everybody to be believe in what they believe, because they are scared for themselves.
I liked the panel. I love men of faith, any faith, who are trying to speak from the heart about man's understanding of the world and not trying to sway their audience. They have their beliefs and they say them and they understand other people and their beliefs and everybody just talks and listens, and comes to understandings of what it is to be human. Isn't that what God wants?
What I do hate, are the people who hide behind religion, and there are so many of them out there, and they aren't interested in talking to me or Millennials. They are scare mongers, and mean spirited. There's a lot of hate behind a lot of closed religious doors.

Oct. 21 2013 01:45 PM

Hi Vanessa Roe from Brooklyn,

Thanks for listening! We spoke with some Humanists last week who raise many of the same points you do. You can check out that segment here: You can also take a listen to the other segments in our series here: Thanks again for your interest and for adding your voice to the conversation!

T. J. Raphael
Digital Content Editor
The Takeaway

Oct. 21 2013 01:43 PM
skeptic from US

I like the take away, but this particular series was disappointing. It was Abrahmic faith centered. The assumption that young and older people of no faith are leaving religion b/c they are too selfish or consumer minded as the leaders suggested is offensive. You should have invited a speaker of no faith for a balance. Today's program felt judgmental despite the speakers attempt.
Do you want to know why people leave Abrahamic faith traditions? stick with getting the answer out of the horses mouth! ask a non believer, as we all have our own reasons for leaving religion. It is most certainly not because we are unable to see beyond our own circumstance. Most nonbelievers spend many hours introspecting prior to deciding to leave their faith tradition (that is if they were believers to begin with/

Oct. 21 2013 01:13 PM
Vanessa roe from Brooklyn

Thank you. Booooooring, ironic, sad, & disappointing, that public radio has such a tired line-up.
Especially when one of the main reasons young people turn away from the patriarchal big three is because of their abysmal record on human rights - that includes (yeah, hey!) women, children, & lgbts.
Next time include Buddhists, Humanists (for a start) and aim for 50/50 gender representation.

Oct. 21 2013 12:47 PM

The panel represents the status quo. Why still so many Male religious leaders and so few Women?

Oct. 21 2013 09:59 AM

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