In a recent study from Pew Research, the data shows that "black men are less religious than black women, but are still highly religious compared with men and women from other racial/ethnic groups." The study conducted surveyed 35,000 Americans across the nation and "... determined levels of religious belief based on answers to four questions: frequency of prayer, belief in God, attendance at religious services and importance of religion in their lives."
While it's no surprise that many African Americans are still connected to their faith, what was intriguing was that only 41 percent of the millennial black population shared the same values as their parents. In fact, the research concluded that around 18 percent of the population now consider themselves atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” So, the question must be asked: Are young black Americans losing their faith in God?
In a recent interview with life coach Dan Miller, who specifically works with young black adults, he said:
"Many of my clients have become disconnected with their family culture as our society continues to grow more independent every year. Now, more than ever, I am seeing so many young adults focusing on either just having fun or making money and success. So many of them see famous people on Instagram touting their celebrity lifestyle, and so they want that, too. Whereas back in the '60s and '70s when their parents were growing up, there was no social media (or major media for that mater) and the family community was the cornerstone of their life. But with so many kids these days being raised by single parents who mostly work, that family community, which was also strongly bound to the church, has all but dissipated."
While some may argue that it's good that so many young black Americans are interested in becoming successful, others are concerned that their values may be misplaced, and that focusing so much of their energy on acquisition and status will eventually lead to emotional and psychological challenges when they get older. Very often, people who spend so much time on their exterior lives do not invest in their “inner well-being" and then find themselves lost and unhappy even when they have it all.
In a recent article from Inc, "Why So Many Successful People Are Still Unhappy," the author interviews Raj Raghunathan, a University of Texas at Austin business professor who noted that many young people are determining their happiness and success level by comparing themselves to other people, which drives them to want what they have only to find themselves not happy when they get it.
Raghunathan is quoted as saying:
"When you don't need to compare yourself to other people, you gravitate towards things that you instinctively enjoy doing, and you're good at, and if you just focus on that for a long enough time, then chances are very, very high that you're going to progress towards mastery anyway, and the fame and the power and the money and everything will come as a byproduct, rather than something that you chase directly in trying to be superior to other people,"
This leads me to my theory that because so many black millennials are being raised by social media rather than their parents and community (which includes the church), many could be losing their connection to their faith in something higher than themselves and, instead, putting their faith into material things. And because they have lost connection to something "higher," they may be also losing their connection to their own authentic voice.