Worship service attendance is up in New York City, but down among young adult Jews, according to recent studies. On the other hand, fewer Spanish-speaking teens are attending Catholic mass, but more are showing up at Evangelical churches.
New York kids in a religion class
A recent Barna study shows not only increased New York City church attendance, but growing numbers of “born-again” Big Apple believers.
“The findings defy not only stereotypes about ‘godless’ New Yorkers,” writes Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, in a guest column in the Washington Post, “but also illustrate that, despite all the talk about secularizing America, church participation has remained remarkably unchanged nationally for most of 80 years.”
But what about all the reports in the media that nobody goes to church anymore? Actually only a very small percentage of Americans claim no affiliation with any particular faith. Tooley acknowledges the “much ballyhooed religiously unaffiliated” numbers, but notes that it translates to “about 15-20 percent of Americans (some of whom still report attending religious services and most of whom still profess belief in God.).” In fact, he points out, “About 75-80 of Americans percent say they are Christian, with Jews the next largest religious group, numbering under 2 percent.”
In fact among Jews, the Pew Research Center reports “a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish – resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox,” as reported recently by the New York Times.
The study shows that it’s the younger Jews who have catapulted this movement. The editor-in-chief of The Jewish Daily Forward found the results to be “devastating,” but not all hope is lost. There is a group called Reboot that was formed specifically to help young Jews feel more connected to their Jewish identity.
The co-founder of the group is Roger Bennett who, as a “non-religious Jew” himself, found that many of his peers wanted to connect in some way to their Jewish heritage, but did not want to go to synagogue every week or practice the seemingly dusty old religion their parents and grandparents had been brought up with.