Young Americans shifting US towards becoming less religious nation – Harriet Sherwood Tuesday 3 November 2015 16.31 EST

Growing numbers of ‘millennials’ who are unaffiliated or atheists are causing vast changes in the American religious landscape, report says

Catholic church

Declining levels of religious belief and practice among the generation of Americans born in the last two decades of the 20th century is shifting the US towards becoming a less devout nation, a major new survey has found.

The growing proportion of “millennials” – young adults now in their 20s and 30s – who do not belong to any organised faith is changing America’s religious landscape, says a report by the respected Pew Research Center, based on a survey of 35,000 people.

The religiously unaffiliated or “nones”, who include atheists and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular”, have grown to 23% of the US population, compared to 16% at the time of the last comparable survey in 2007.

But three out of four Americans still have some religious faith, mainly Protestant denominations, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. And 89% of US adults say they believe in God – including a significant proportion of “nones” – making America more religiously inclined than other advanced industrial nations.

Youth largely equates with a lack of religious activity, says the report. One in four millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with more than half of those adults born before or during the second world war. Only 38% of adults born after 1990 say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 67% of those born before 1945.

Overall, 55% of American adults say they pray daily, 53% say religion is very important in their lives and 50% attend a religious service at least once a month. Significantly, more women (64%) pray on a daily basis than men (46%).

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Rock The Vote: How This Generation Can Get Involved In The 2016 Race – Ashley Spillane June 2015

Consider this: There are nearly 93 million Millennials in the country right now, making them the largest generation in the country’s history.

….the most diverse generation in the country, and now make up the largest share of the workforce. So, why aren’t they the most influential voting bloc in the country?


It’s tough to imagine this happening now, but 25 years ago this month, a Florida judge banned a controversial record because the lyrics were deemed obscene.

When 2 Live Crew went ahead and performed tracks like “Me So Horny” and “Dick Almighty,” two members of the band were arrested.

This moment galvanized a national conversation on censorship, after the music industry decided it couldn’t sit on the political sidelines anymore.

Industry insiders launched Rock the Vote because they knew the only way to change what was happening in politics and government was to exercise their own political power at the ballot box.

Twenty-five years later, Rock the Vote is still guided by that same principle. We know that if we’re going to influence the future of our country, we need to exercise our right to vote.


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SEALs Being SEALs: When Is the Swagger Too Much? – By Paul D. Shinkman Jan. 16, 2015 | 12:01 a.m. EST

From ‘American Sniper’ to the bin Laden raid, top operators grapple with how to quench the public thirst for their exploits.

The public is hungry for details, but where should the clandestine draw the line? Pictured, a Navy SEAL prepares for a night mission to capture Iraqi insurgent leaders near Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007.

The public is hungry for details, but where should the clandestine draw the line? Pictured, a Navy SEAL prepares for a night mission to capture Iraqi insurgent leaders near Fallujah, Iraq, in 2007.

There’s a scene about halfway through Clint Eastwood’s new war thriller “American Sniper” in which Bradley Cooper, playing real-life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, is providing what the military calls “overwatch” for Marines on the streets of Ramadi. It’s the height of the worst part of the Iraq War, and the patrol he’s covering through his rifle scope is systematically kicking in doors and searching for bad guys.

The film depicts a teammate telling Kyle previously that half of the Marines had been civilians six months prior and were in desperate need of assistance, training and confidence.

Bradley Cooper portrays the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in “American Sniper.”

Against orders, Kyle packs up his gear and hurries down to the Marines, offering his hard-won expertise to lead the infantrymen through the dangerous room-clearing missions he can’t observe from the roof. The Marines in the movie visibly fawn and immediately accept wise counsel from the man who became known as “The Legend” and “The Devil of Ramadi.”

Commence slaying the “savage” Iraqis.

Perhaps this is precisely how it happened in real life. Actual Marines who served in Ramadi tell U.S. News anecdotally that partnering with SEALs was a common occurrence at that time in the war. Marines are, however, notoriously cynical, and this particular encounter may not have occurred exactly as it’s portrayed.

[READ: The White House vs. SEAL Team 6: When is it OK to Leak Classified Information?]

But this attitude among larger-than-life SEALs does encapsulate the public image of the elite warriors – and the result of the Navy’s concerted effort to brand its SEa-Air-Land force as the best of all the top commandos.

“American Sniper” comes out three years after the release of the eponymous book Kyle authored with two ghostwriters, and almost two years after he was gunned down by a Marine suffering from PTSD.

It also comes at a time when public hunger for details about the secretive community is contributing to a subtle chipping away of its desired image.

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When Will We See A #Millennial Congress? – Linda Killian 12.26.14

Millennials—rich or otherwise—have been notoriously uninterested in politics. So how do you mobilize a cynical generation?

ZUMA Press/Alamy

Whether it is entertainment, consumer goods or almost anything else that can be purchased, viewed or clicked on, Millennials are the most coveted demographic. There are about 80 million Americans between the ages of 18-34 and next year they are expected to spend $2.45 trillion.

But when it comes to politics and national policy they have relatively little clout because most of them don’t reliably vote and aren’t major political contributors. These young adults have voluntarily checked out of a political system they consider corrupt and dysfunctional.

Last month, a Gallup poll showed Barack Obama’s standing with white millennials down to 34 percent, the lowest rating of his presidency among this group, which reflects not only the disaffection young Americans have with the president but also with both parties and politics in general.

Despite being the country’s largest adult demographic the Millennial participation rate in the November midterm elections was the worst of any age group. Only about 21 percent of adult Millennials cast a ballot and exit polls showed that voters 30 and younger represented only 13 percent of the electorate. However, in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections they were the largest bloc of voters.

The unevenness of Millennial political participation is driven in part by apathy and by the belief that politics is not the way to solve problems. This feeling has been exacerbated by the political dysfunction in Washington and by their disappointment that Obama has not delivered on his promise to change the political system.

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Vinyl, Once Thought Dead, Makes A Comeback In The Digital Age – DENISE GUERRA November 29, 2014 5:49 PM ET

An employee demonstrates how a mother is checked for sound quality before it is duplicated during production at the Rainbo Records factory in Canoga Park, Calif. The vinyl record industry has seen an uptick in sales in recent years, keeping manufacturers like Rainbo busy.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at Nov 30, 2014 2.07

In the ’90s, Rainbo Records owner Steve Sheldon wanted to keep his vinyl presses going.

Everyone thought he was crazy; they told him it was a dead format. But Sheldon was adamant.

“I actually said, many times, ‘I think it will be around longer than CDs,’ ” Sheldon says.

Today, his Canoga Park, Calif., operation is massive. There are sound testing rooms, large printers for making labels and rows of workers stuffing sleeves. And then there are the actual presses themselves — 14 of them — giving off smoke and smelling of burnt rubber.

Sheldon describes the process as being somewhat like using a waffle iron. Instead of batter, they start with melted vinyl, squeezing it into a groove using hydraulic pressure.

The entire plant produces 28 records a minute, but Sheldon wishes he could press more. He’s increased his staff and now presses records 24 hours a day, 6 days a week to keep up with demand.

And it’s not just Rainbo Records: Vinyl presses all across the country are feeling the strain as the old format makes a comeback with a new generation.

“Vinyl right now is really the only bright spot in terms of album sales this year,” says Keith Caulfield, who tracks music charts for Billboard Magazine. He says before 2008, vinyl sales were so low they didn’t even publish the numbers.

But in the last six years, vinyl sales have tripled; in the first part of 2014, Billboard counted 6.5 million units sold. Currently vinyl makes up 3.5 percent of overall music sales, according to music tracker Nielsen SoundScan; a decade ago, that figure was 0.2 percent.

Digital downloads and CDs still make up the majority, but sales for those formats are down.

“It’s just really hard to convince people to spend money on buying music — period,” Caulfield says. “You know, it’s hard to get people to even buy a subscription to services like Spotify or Beats Music.”

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Why Millennial Women Have a Money Problem – By Kimberly Palmer June 17, 2014 | 9:05 a.m. EDT

In their 20s, women lag behind their male peers when it comes to saving and earning.

Women have unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement.

You’ve probably heard that by midlife, women tend to earn less than men and also have less money saved up. That’s not entirely shocking, given that many women opt to scale back their own career ambitions in order to take care of children or parents. What is surprising, though, is just how financially behind 20-something women are compared to their male peers.

Women have unique challenges when it comes to saving for retirement.

Consider these findings from the 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial Study released last week: College-educated millennial women, who are currently between ages 22 and 33, earn just $63,000 compared to men the same age, who are already bringing in an average of $83,000. Millennial men have also already accumulated higher levels of investable assets: $58,500 versus $31,400.

[Read: The Truth Behind Gen Y’s Financial Optimism.]

On more subjective measures, like how they feel about money, men also rank higher. Millennial women say they are less satisfied and less optimistic about their finances than millennial men, and they are also less likely to call themselves “savers.” In addition, women are more likely to report feeling “overwhelmed” with the amount of debt that they carry.

The study of 1,639 millennials raises some disturbing questions about 20-something women and their financial futures. Why are young women – who have been raised to believe they can do anything – already falling behind their male peers, even before the midlife crunch period when they might scale back careers for family priorities? And are they creating disparities that will only deepen with age and end up haunting them their whole lives?

Even financial experts have a hard time explaining the reasons behind the gender difference, which is at least partially due to the types of majors and careers women choose to pursue. One thing is clear, though: It’s alarming. “The saving disparities that are there are a little distressing for women,” says Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement at Wells Fargo.

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You May Not Use WhatsApp, But the Rest of the World Sure Does – BY ROBERT MCMILLAN 02.20.148:17 PM

Image: Lore SjöbergImage: Lore Sjöberg

If you did a double-take yesterday when Facebook announced that it was spending an astounding $19 billion to buy mobile messaging software company WhatsApp, you’re forgiven. After all, the software isn’t widely used in the United States, and WhatsApp is a 32-engineer company that’s kept a decidedly low profile.

In India, however, it’s the bomb. Mobile rewards company Jana says it’s the most popular mobile messaging App in India, and in Brazil and Mexico too — smartphone markets that are just coming online thanks to cheap Android phones. More than 1 billion smartphones shipped last year. In India, 26 million of them — 58 percent of the market — cost less than $150, according to research firm IDC.

For many folks in these emerging markets, these devices aren’t simply a first smartphone. They’re a first computer. And so when they pick WhatsApp, they’re starting from a clean slate. Here in the U.S., the age of the PC still colors our mobile messaging choices. We’ve already built our social networks on Facebook, Twitter, or Skype.

In India, there’s less legacy clutter, and people are picking the best software — the ad-free, easy to use, well-designed WhatsApp. It’s a no brainer really. Launch Facebook’s mobile app, and the first thing you’ll see will be a flurry of wall posts from people you barely know and a big juicy ad. It’s annoying, and it’s something you don’t find on WhatsApp.

That’s why WhatsApp is becoming a new kind of social network in these countries — one that connects people more immediately and intimately than Facebook; and that’s why it connects with young users too, who don’t suffer from this kind of PC hangover. That’s why Facebook needed to buy the company at such an astounding price.

Cheaper Than Texts — And No Ads

But there’s another big factor that has made WhatsApp popular not only in countries such as India, but in European markets, where people have already built up social networks on PCs. It’s a cheaper replacement for SMS. It looks and feels much like conventional text messages, but doesn’t come with the big fees.

In Spain, where WhatsApp had a commanding 96 percent marketshare last year, a text message costs €0.15. WhatsApp, in contrast, is free and has many features that SMS does not. It tells users when messages have been delivered and when they’ve been read. There’s an option where you can tell people when you last popped online. “It’s a great platform that works almost all the time,” says Eric Freeman, a marketing consultant based in Madrid who’s been using the software for the past two years.

“In markets like India and Spain, WhatsApp is a significant cost savings for users relative to SMS, which is a key driver for its growth,” says Rajeev Chand, head of research at Rutberg & Co., a technology investment bank. “It is the smartphone and messaging equivalent to Skype for international calls.”

That WhatsApp has been able to do this with a small staff, and virtually no marketing budget is a testament to how lightweight and fast-spreading new social networks can be on mobile phones. WhatsApp is free for the first year. After that, it costs $1 per year. Nine months ago, the company had 200 million users. Now it’s at 450 million users, and is adding another 1 million per day.

It’s doing this by putting users first instead of squeezing them to please advertisers. And that’s a good idea, no matter what country you live in.

OPINION: A bailout for jobless millennials? – by Michelle Chen January 27, 2014

For unemployed and depressed youths, job training programs and mental-health services are more important than ever.


A recent U.K. study of millennials suggests that the unemployment epidemic is driving a mental-health crisis.
Getty Images

In the shadow of the Great Recession lies a deep depression: Youths in their 20s and early 30s are hitting new lows. Compared with older workers who have lost their jobs, young people face more complex and layered hardships that could last most of their lives. They are experiencing disproportionately high unemployment, stretching indefinitely into the future, in an increasingly unequal and uncertain social landscape. And just when they are most in need of social support, the recession has led lawmakers to erode the welfare and employment programs that youths need to move themselves — and the economy they have inherited — toward recovery.

For young people in the United States and Europe, there is an emotional layer to this economic malaise. According to a recent U.K. survey of 2,161 people ages 16 to 25 by nonprofit advocacy group the Prince’s Trust, the unemployment epidemic is driving a mental-health crisis. While overall happiness levels for the surveyed youths stayed about level over the past year, reported emotional health fell significantly for the segment that is out of the workforce and not in school or job training. These young people experienced feelings of despondency and hopelessness at a higher rate than their peers. Chronically unemployed youths were more likely to have experienced panic attacks, engaged in self-harming behavior or felt suicidal. Mental-health problems struck 4 in 10 jobless young people “as a direct result of unemployment,” according to the Prince’s Trust.

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Sex and the Single Tween – By Abigail Jones / January 22, 2014 2:07 PM EST

You Go, Sexy Mama!” Today, 91 percent of 12- to 13-year-old girls have Internet access and 72 percent have mobile access. Photography by Elinor Carucci/Institute for Newsweek


Four best friends pile onto a couch in an attic playroom in a leafy suburb of Boston. It is the fall of 2009, just a few hours after school has let out for Thanksgiving break. The girls wear Uggs and Juicy Couture sweatshirts and are discussing boys, Lady Gaga and blow jobs. Every few minutes, someone screams, “Ewwwwww!”

“Wait, you guys – what’s going on at school? Who’s dating who?” asks Madison, then 11, who had recently left the local middle school for a private school. She has long blond hair, arched eyebrows and a gigantic smile.

“I’m not dating anyone right now,” says Sarah, 11, who lives across the street and says she wants to be an interior designer. She has an innocent face and wears a pink fleece jacket and dangly star earrings.

“Me neither!” barks Brianna, 12, the athlete of the group.

The only girl who doesn’t answer is Cat, a bubbly, plump 11-year-old who has a boyfriend but won’t admit it, so Brianna shouts, “Cat dates Andy!”

“Ewwwwwww!” the girls squeal.

After practicing their supermodel walks and screeching comments like “Rearrrrr!” and “You go, sexy mama!” they discuss what sexy means.

“When you’re sexy, it means you show off your body,” says Madison, who wants to be either an archaeologist or a Victoria’s Secret model. “Boys look for boobs.”

“No they don’t,” Brianna says. “Boys look for hot.”

The girls don’t think any of this is good news, but they also accept it as fact.

“I think that, um, our generation of kids is more advanced than like, any other,” says Brianna.

“I think it’s influenced from the media,” says Cat.

“Did you hear what Adam Lambert did?” Brianna says, referring to the singer’s controversial performance at the recent American Music Awards. “He kissed a guy. He made out with a guy on national TV. He did a little” she pauses, lowering her voice “oral sex there.”

“Wait – what is oral?” asks Madison.

The girls erupt in laughter, then unanimously agree that Miley Cyrus is a bad influence (and this was years before her twerking episode). “In Party in the USA, she’s like, humping a pole,” Madison says.

“And she has a tank top on,” Brianna shouts. “And that’s it! And her black bra is showing. Her shorts are up to here,” pointing high up on her own thigh.

No matter what the topic, their conversation always seemed to come back to sex. And a lot of their questions were directed at me.

“Do men measure their penises?”

“Do the girls care how big they are?”

“Are you getting married?”

“Are you a virgin?”

“Do you want kids?”

“Of course you’re a virgin, right?” says Madison, looking at me. “We’re all virgins!”

“But you’re not,” Brianna says, to me, in a hushed voice.

Cat’s mom walks in with Madison’s younger sister, Emma.

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