A Generation In Transition (The Times, They Are A-Changin’)

We measured the people with surveys and polls
Their political leanings, their spiritual goals
Scientifically balanced, with proper controls
We could see how the data were rangin’
And the answers we got from some two thousand souls
Said the times, they are a-changin’

We asked them to tell us just what they believe
Compared to their parents, they cannot conceive
While the older generation wears their faith on their sleeve
The younger don’t find it persuadin’
They start out in churches, but often they leave
Cos the times they are a-changin’

We asked what they thought about marriage for gays
We dissected the data in so many ways
Though the Christian conservatives push for delays
It is clear that their power is fadin’
Yes, the Christian tradition is in its last days
Cos the times they are a-changin’

Their views about Christians, it seems they depend
On whether or not they have Christ as their friend
The godless are growing, and they cannot pretend
An invisible god is worth praisin’
The numbers are rising, it’s more than a trend
The times, they are a-changin’

I’ll stop here–it’s such a fun form, I expect lots of additional verses in the comments (it’s national poetry month–go ahead and try!). Of course, the topic is the Millenial Values Survey report(pdf).

It’s an interesting mixed bag. I teach at Cuttlefish U., which is not religiously affiliated; my own experience is pretty much what they found for non-religious colleges. I was surprised by how much religious influence exists, nationwide–this is clearly the result of my Cuttlefish U bias. Which made perfect sense, half a second after I read it, but which was depressing as hell for about half a second.

anyway.. the good news is, 18-24 year olds are markedly different from their parents. For one thing… they are considerably less religious. (click to embiggen)

A huge net gain in “Unaffiliated”. These are not all non-believers, but it’s a start. How many non-believers? Depends on your definition, but 14% checked “I do not believe in God”, so there’s one possible number. Again, click to embiggen…

Of course, we can play around with numbers… 43% “seldom” or “never” attend religious services (aside from weddings & funerals); 33% say that religion is not too important or not at all important in their lives…I honestly have no idea how many atheists there are here.

One thing I do know, though. The times, they are a-changin’.


  1. AsqJames says

    According to the second chart, 35% of all Americans claim to attend once a week or more, but studies comparing actual and reported attendance have found up to half who say they go weekly are lying. A large part of the disparity is attributed to the social desirability of being seen as a good and moral person.

    Which makes me wonder…is attendance actually falling or is the connotation between church attendance and “goodness” weakening? Probably a mixture of both, but wouldn’t the latter lead to the former anyway?

  2. says

    One survey in Britain concluded that men have sex with women twice as often as women have sex with men. That should tell you everything you need to know about surveys.

  3. Jon says

    Did they control for the tendency of people to become more religious with age? That could explain some of the discrepancy compared to the “general population”.

  4. Tom says

    What, nobody took you up on your invitation? Oh well, here goes nothin’…

    A literate people that read the Good Book
    Find the moral instruction within it sure looks
    like the ravings of hypocrites, liars, and kooks,
    Or a sociopathic, insane djinn,
    And the preachers who peddle it unmasked as crooks,
    Yes, the times, they are a-changin’

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