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The pagan boom – why young people are turning to non-traditional religions
Census trends tell us the UK is an increasingly secular place, with atheists now outnumbering Christians in England and Wales. Organised religion is also in decline across the pond in the US. In both cases, data reveal that young people are responsible for this trend. Statistics show that millennials are increasingly likely to the monotheism (a belief in one, often male god) they were socialised into as children for more self-determined, spiritual paths during their teens and early twenties.
Dovetailing with this decline is compelling evidence suggesting that, while monotheism declines, an increasing number of young people – ex-faith and otherwise – are identifying as pagan.
“Many young people are leaving organised religion for similar reasons to myself,” says Eileen Nash, 20, an ex-Catholic turned Wiccan. “They’re tired of the shame, they want to ask (theological) questions and they don’t want to be a part of an organisation that promotes discrimination of any kind.”
This chimes with Jonathan Wooley, 30, an ex-Anglican turned Druid. “As a queer man, I felt like I constantly had to apologise for my sexuality, and beg for forgiveness for something I didn’t choose. Meeting an increasing number of Christians at university – many of whom were bigoted, intolerant and closed minded, performing boring and aesthetically impoverished rituals – convinced me that this was not a spiritual community I wanted anything to do with. So I stopped going to church.”