NPR asks six young people why they are moving away from religion

Published: Thursday, Jan. 17 2013 11:47 a.m. MST

Rigoberto Perez (from left), Kyle Simpson and Miriam Nissly participated in a roundtable discussion about religion with NPR's David Greene at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.

NPR.org

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Our take: A third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated, according to a poll published by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. In this two-part interview, NPR's David Greene talks with six young adults in an attempt to understand why they are distancing themselves from organized religion. About his struggle with his Christian beliefs, 27-year-old Kyle Simpson says, "I don't (believe in God) but I really want to. That's the problem with questions like these is you don't have anything that clearly states, 'Yes, this is a fact,' so I'm constantly struggling." Learn more about the other participants' perspectives in these interviews: Part 1 and Part 2.

Interview Highlights

Miriam Nissly, 29, was raised Jewish and considers herself Jewish with an "agnostic bent." She loves going to synagogue.

"I realize maybe there's a disconnect there why are you doing it if you don't necessarily have a belief in God? But I think there's a cultural aspect, there's a spiritual aspect, I suppose. I find the practice of sitting and being quiet and being alone with your thoughts to be helpful, but I don't think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with."

Yusuf Ahmad, 33, raised Muslim, is now an atheist. His doubts set in as a child with sacred stories he just didn't believe.

"Like the story of Abraham his God tells him to sacrifice his son. Then he takes his son to sacrifice him, and he turns into a goat. I remember growing up, in like fifth [or] sixth grade I'd hear these stories and be like, 'That's crazy! Why would this guy do this? Just because he heard a voice in his head, he went to sacrifice his son and it turned into a goat?' There's no way that this happened. I wasn't buying it.

"Today if some guy told you that 'I need to sacrifice my son because God told me to do it,' he'd be locked up in a crazy institution."

Read more about these interviews on NPR.org.

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