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Deven Comen Deven Comen graduated from Georgetown College in 2012 with a major in Government. Deven worked as a research assistant for Professor Katherine Marshall on the religion and global development...
Where do young people come down on questions of faith, values, and public life? How do they relate their values to public policy issues including education, economic inequality, and the environment? These questions, critically important for the 2012 election, are at the center of a campus conversation being organized by the Berkley Center and Georgetown University. This blog features an ongoing conversation about these issues between students selected as Millennial Values Fellows through a national competition. You can read and comment on their blogs here.

To learn more about the project, visit the Campus Conversation on Values page.

OTHER POSTS

Millennials on Social Media and Politics

November 15, 2012

Millennials on Social Issues and Diversity

November 12, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Why the Presidential Election Matters to Millennials

November 7, 2012

Millennials on Religion and Interfaith Work

November 7, 2012

Ryan Price (Drake) on E Pluribus Duo

November 6, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on Unpredictable Millennials

November 5, 2012

Millennials on Affirmative Action Policy

November 3, 2012

Seth Warner (Vassar) on What Happens as the "God Gap" Widens

November 2, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on How Social Media Is Like Wii Bowling

October 31, 2012

Zachary Yentzer (Arizona State) on the Next Greatest Generation

October 29, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on Post-Racial America? Race, Millennials, and the 2012 Election

October 25, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on a Future of Hashtags #whatitmeansforus

October 23, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on How the People Can Heal a “Divided,” Partisan Nation

October 4, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Religion and American Democracy

October 4, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on How It’s All About Relatability: Voter Turnout

October 3, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on Mistaking Politics for a Hollywood Blockbuster

October 2, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on the Internet Solution

October 1, 2012


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Millennials Take on Faith in Public Life

Faithandvalues

April 8, 2012

Several millennial bloggers stood by the statement: “Faith is the only sure foundation for values in personal and public life”.

One millennial wrote, “If one does not care enough to form an opinion by which to live by, if one does not think about confronting the eternal, one cannot be expected to be able to form solid values in one’s life.”Another believes the kaleidoscope of faiths that make up the world are simply a synonym for different worldviews. He felt faith “shouldn’t be a dirty word used to relegate religious people to the status of anti-intellectualism,” since “[t]he ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres in which our faith plays out cannot be truly divorced; how we choose to live out our private lives will always lead us to make conclusions about how the world ought to operate.” In fact, one blogger says, “[c]onversations about faith allow us to bring our full selves to the table. It is there that we uncover the foundations of our values by understanding our own and others’ perspectives, and consequently, creating better policies.” Another doubted the possibiliy of “trust[ing] ourselves to be a constant force of good” without a foundation of faith.

Slightly more millennials expressed that faith was not the only sure foundation for values in personal and public life. It is not necessary to have faith to have values. As one blogger pointed out, “[f]aithful or irreverent, we are all capable of making either a positive or a negative impact on our world.”

One blogger fears her lack of religious faith limits a future career in public life. By holding faith as the only sure foundation for values, “[i]t alienates an entire group of people and automatically labels them as immoral and inferior.” Another echoed this sentiment, saying “[t]he statement reads as very Rick Perry-esque in its assumption that faith is the only “right” way, which, of course, cannot be empirically proven...all that is left is a dangerous risk of discrimination against agnostics and atheists.” But as one blogger pointed out, Millennials have a more accepting view of atheists and we may be facing the end of faith-based politics. He also notes the “reason faith is not going to continue to be the foundation for values in public life is not just because we’re getting less religious – it’s usefulness has run out. [...] Instead of our faith imploring us to push onward, it’s a crutch to hold us back in time, to cling to an old memory of the way life used to be.” Perhaps education and politics “can’t accommodate the vast amount of faiths we have in the United States...So we save ourselves a big headache by remaining secular and basing things off of facts, not ideology”, one blogger wrote.

Many respondents took a nuanced position on the statement. One blogger pointed out that “while faith often serves as a source of personal and public values, it is not a prerequisite”, especially when we examine American history.

Perhaps because the government does not impose a basis for morality but instead encourages a set of values by the laws it sets and upholds, “Americans have been able to act on their own morality and develop their own values as long as they follow the laws. This means that values have been developed by individuals and religious institutions to fill in the gaps of American morality.”