Religious studies professors at Long Beach State have noticed that fewer students are attending religious services and more are identifying as “spiritual” or of no religious affiliation.
Senior public relations major America Olmedo, who was raised Christian, is among the growing number of college students with no current traditional religious affiliation.
“I feel like if you label yourself a certain way, it kind of limits your beliefs and how you act and the people that you meet,” Olmedo said.
The percentage of college students with no religious affiliation has tripled in the last 30 years, from 10% in 1986 to 31% in 2016, according to a CIRP Freshman survey.
The same survey also reported a dropped percentage of students who attend religious services from 85% to 69%.
Religious studies professor David Stewart said the politicization of religion could be a factor which influences the religion college students choose or choose not to affiliate with.
“That does not mean that there was not always politics there, but the positions have become hardened,” Stewart said.
He said abortion, for example, was accepted before the first movement of the fetus by the Catholic Church; however, now most Catholics oppose abortion altogether.
“I started looking at the church as if they’re telling you to think a certain way no matter how society is,” Olmedo said.
She is one of many students who find some traditional religious ideology to be hypocritical and outdated. LGBTQ+ rights are another topic of contention within the church.
Olmedo recalled a time when her church did not address the LGBTQ+ community in a way that aligned with her beliefs. Olmedo said she has family members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and she had always accepted them.
“You’re over here saying that the God that you believe in loves everyone, but you’re not supporting a certain community,” Olmedo said.
Religious studies professor Jon Stone suggested that, in some instances, ideologies within different religions fall short of properly addressing more modern social concerns.
“They have positioned themselves in such a way that they can’t capture the interest of these changing generations where they’re not speaking to the issues or the concerns of these generations,” Stone said.